June 15, 2023
The Association of Black Anthropologists hereby endorses the Resolution to Boycott Israeli Academic Institutions. In keeping with the AAA’s “commit[ment] to the promotion and protection of the right of people and peoples everywhere to the full realization of their humanity,” (1999 DAHR) we heed the resounding call from Palestinian civil society organizations to take action toward affirming their inalienable right to self-determination. We raise our voice in concert with the chorus of prominent American academic organizations that have already expressed support for the Resolution.
While some members of the AAA have publicly expressed concerns regarding the efficacy of the proposed boycott, we reject the colonial inclination to speak for oppressed peoples, instead respecting that the aforementioned Palestinian civil societies know what will be most useful in their struggle toward liberation. As past AAA president Alisse Waterston wrote, “If the boycott proves ineffectual, this must be weighed against complicity with the silencing of the condition of Palestinians under apartheid, leaving them isolated, lonely, and invisible.” Additionally, we challenge the sincerity of any notion that a boycott would diminish academic freedom at Israeli universities when many are actively colluding with the state in the repression of dissent against its apartheid project. Meanwhile, Israel undermines the free exchange of ideas at Palestinian academic institutions through such measures as imposing strict limits and quotas on international faculty and students visiting Palestinian universities for work and study.
As Black anthropologists whose work often centers around issues of structural subjugation, we recognize the striking similarities between the Netanyahu government’s abhorrent treatment of Palestinians and Arabs on one hand and the South African National Party’s institution of apartheid against Black Africans writ large.
Based on the above evaluation of the circumstances surrounding the Resolution, in addition to the case expertly presented by the Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions group and points expressed by countless others who support a boycott of institutions complicit in Israeli apartheid and violations of international law, we encourage all members of the AAA to vote in favor of the boycott.
In 2021, the ABA was a signatory on the AAA Middle East Section (MES)’s statement condemning the forced evictions and retaliatory violence by Israeli state forces against Palestinians. In 2023, the ABA stands once again in solidarity with Palestinian academics, against Israeli apartheid and the oppression of Palestinians.
As our colleagues of AnthroBoycott remind us, the time for action is now.
The Association of Black Anthropologists