This was supposed to be a landslide victory for the Israel haters, and although the vote was very close, the defeat is resounding.
In a massive blow to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) movement, the American Anthropological Association voted to reject a resolution for the academic boycott of Israel, it was announced Tuesday.88% of AAA members in a meeting in Denver last year voted to have this referendum, which seemed to indicate that a majority of actual members supported boycotting Israel. As usual, the haters lobbied the smaller group to make it appear like they had massive support within the organization at large.
The resolution, which sought to officially adopt a boycott to refrain from formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions, though not of individual academics, was narrowly defeated by 2,423 votes against and 2,384 votes in favor.
The BDSers are trying to put a positive spin on their devastating loss:
Despite this setback, the decision to hold this vote in the first place marks a historic step forward in opening spaces for critical discussion of the U.S. role in enabling Israel’s widespread and systematic abuses against the Palestinian people. The past three years of debate about the boycott have brought exponentially more discussion of Palestinian rights in the AAA than ever before in the Association’s history. This includes a ground-breaking report by a AAA Task Force recognizing the settler-colonial practices of the Israeli government. These represent important first steps towards opposing Israeli human rights violations. Separately, over 1,300 anthropologists have signed a petition pledging to uphold the boycott through their own personal practice.The BDSers, who routinely make death threats against musicians who want to play in Israel, are also accusing the pro-Israel side of intimidation tactics. Examples include that the pro-Israel side "lobbied university presidents across the country to intervene in the vote; paid AAA membership dues for boycott opponents; called for the firing of Israeli scholars accused of supporting the boycott; and, just as the AAA began voting, filed a frivolous lawsuit against the American Studies Association for its own endorsement of the boycott in 2013."
The AAA will do some symbolic anti-Israel moves anyway, including writing letters of censure to Israeli ministries. It also says
Considering the ways in which Israeli government policies and practices make it difficult for Palestinian academics, including anthropologists to travel to international conferences, and considering the ways in which Israeli policy emplace obstructions on Palestinian and dissenting Israeli academics, AAA will establish fellowships to enable the travel of Palestinian and/or Israeli academics to AAA conferences, and of academics and/or visiting scholars in anthropology to act as teachers, mentors or research collaborators with colleagues in the West Bank and Gaza, assuming financial feasibility and/or successful fundraising efforts.I'm willing to bet that this never happens, because the haters aren't interested in raising money for actually helping their Palestinian colleagues but in attacking Israel.
I'm also not so sure that any Palestinian anthropologists have problems traveling anyway. I found a single lecturer in anthropology at the English-language Al Quds University website, who received his PhD from Hebrew University.
(h/t David A, Leonard K)
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