New York, NY, June 7, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called the rejection of a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions by the membership of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) “an important milestone in the effort to counter the BDS movement and in support of academic freedom.”
“The AAA is the largest American academic association to consider a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, so the decision by its membership to reject this discriminatory and extreme measure is an important marker,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “Other academic associations should take note of how divisive this effort to delegitimize and demonize Israeli academia contradicted the very value of open exchange cherished by educators and academics. This was not about changing any specific Israeli policy. It was a bigoted and ham-handed attempt to indict any academic simply on the basis of their nationality.
“Importantly, the anthropologists made clear to their colleagues how an academic boycott would directly and unfairly harm Israeli anthropologists and anthropology students, and how it would violate sacrosanct values of academic freedom,” Mr. Greenblatt said. “This is an important milestone in the effort to counter the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement and in support of academic freedom.”
A little over half of the AAA membership participated in the online voting with 2,423 voting against the academic boycott 2,384 in support. The AAA annual meeting in November 2015 voted in favor of placing a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions on the organization’s spring 2016 election ballot, in a move ADL referred to as a “misguided attack” on academic freedom. The issue was first raised at the annual conference in 2013, which was followed by a “study visit” by the AAA Task Force on Engagement with Israel / Palestine in 2014 and subsequent report which recommended boycott.