US Anthropology Group Joins Academic Boycott of Israel

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Israeli soldier during an incursion into the Jenin Refugee Camp in the occupied West Bank in July. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The American Anthropological Association has become the largest U.S. scholastic group to pass a resolution to boycott Israeli educational institutions, Peoples Dispatch reports. The measure does not extend to individual academics.

In a major win for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) has voted to boycott Israel.

The vote on the resolution was held on July 14 and 15 by electronic ballot, the AAA said in a statement. Those who voted in favor of the resolution in an all-member referendum numbered 2,016, or 71 percent, and 835 voted against. 

The resolution was welcomed by the BDS movement and the Palestinian Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI).


As Palestinians we warmly welcome the historic vote of the American Anthropological Association (AAA @AmericanAnthro) to support our call to boycott Israeli academic institutions complicit in Israel’s regime of military occupation, settler colonialism & apartheid. #AnthroBoycott

— PACBI (@PACBI) July 24, 2023


AAA is now the largest and oldest such association to endorse a boycott of Israel. Reports noted that a similar vote with full attendance on boycotting Israel had failed in 2016, but a preliminary vote a year earlier was in favor of boycotting Israel.

Following the announcement, AAA President Ramona Perez in a statement said that:

“this was indeed a contentious issue, and our differences may have sparked fierce debate, but we have made a collective decision and it is now our duty to forge ahead, united in our commitment to advancing scholarly knowledge, finding solutions to human and social problems, and serving as a guardian of human rights.” 

She added that,

“by means of these actions, AAA will contribute to raising critical awareness of the dynamics of peace and conflict in the region, draw attention to the disproportionate suffering of the Palestinian people as a result of the Occupation and what can be done about it, and expand the space for dialogue on these sensitive and important human rights and academic freedom issues.”

The AAA will not collaborate with Israeli colleges and universities on any educational or academic projects. Additionally, Israeli academic institutions will be excluded from being listed in AAA’s published materials, advertising in AAA publications, participating in joint conferences and republishing and reprinting articles from AAA publications in journals and publications. Individual Israeli academics are exempted from the boycott.

The BDS movement in a statement on its website thanked the AAA and those who took the time to “learn from and listen to Indigenous Palestinian voices.”

It also noted that the vote by the AAA was “wholly consistent with the association’s stated commitment to anti-racism, equality, human rights and social justice and furthers the drive to decolonize anthropology and academia in general.”

The statement said that the AAA was joining other academic associations in the U.S. which have also endorsed a similar boycott of Israel in the recent past, such as the American Studies Association, the Association for Asian American Studies, the Middle East Studies Association, the National Women’s Studies Association and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.

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