CCAR Statement Condemning American Anthropological Association Boycott of Israeli Institutions and Anthropologists

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Central Conference of American Rabbis, in the strongest terms, condemns the overwhelming vote by members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), to boycott Israeli academic institutions and the anthropologists employed by them. The vote taken at AAA's annual business meeting must now be ratified by vote of AAA members, whom we urge to reject the boycott.

If ratified, the boycott would not serve the cause of peace or bring the Palestinian people closer to the realization of their legitimate national aspirations. Instead, American anthropologists would penalize Israeli academics, many of whom actively oppose the very policies that AAA seeks to reverse. Worse, the boycott would end American anthropologists' access to learning from their Israeli colleagues and vice versa.

We note in particular:

  • As part of this boycott vote, AAA members specifically rejected an amendment to affirm the Association's non-discrimination policy, with debate centering on discrimination based on national origin.
  • Past AAA boycotts have targeted only institutions, not the academics who are employed by them.
  • As noted by a group of anthropologists who oppose both the boycott and Israeli occupation of territories held since the 1967 Six-Day War, "The call by anthropologists to boycott Israeli universities is a refusal to participate in productive dialogue."
  • Yad Vashem, the world's foremost institution for Holocaust studies, is included in the boycott, which would appallingly sever American anthropologists' access to some of the world's leading thinkers in this critical area of scholarship.

We call on the AAA membership at large to reject convention attendees' contemptible proposal -- which would join the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in a particularly noxious way -- and instead to engage with their Israeli and Palestinian colleagues productively, doing anthropologists' part to bring peace to a troubled region and to achieve the dream of a Palestinian State.

BDS seeks only the delegitimization of Israel as a Jewish state, and therefore cannot be a peaceful path to two states, Jewish and Palestinian, living at peace, side by side.

Rabbi Denise L. Eger               Rabbi Steven A. Fox
President                                Chief Executive

Central Conference of American Rabbis