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American Historical Association to Consider Anti-Israel Resolution

American Historical Association to Consider Anti-Israel Resolution

Scholarly reputation at risk from yet another anti-Israel political maneuver.

We wrote previously about the scheduled anti-Israel resolutions at the seasonal faculty association meetings in 2015-2016.

We are now in the midst of this season, with the American Historical Association (AHA) annual meeting in Atlanta this week. Once again, we see an attempt to politicize a reputable scholarly organization by a small group of radicals with an anti-Israel agenda.

On the table at the AHA Business Meeting on Saturday, January 9, 2016, is a resolution condemning Israel’s alleged mistreatment of Palestinians in education. Under the AHA Constitution, if the resolution passes the Business Meeting, it goes to the AHA Council for approval, non-concurrence or veto. If the Council votes not to concur, it goes to a full membership vote.[*]

Unlike resolutions at the American Studies Association in 2013 (which passed) and currently at the American Anthropological Association (pending a membership vote), the AHA resolution does not explicitly call on the AHA to adopt the academic boycott of Israel pushed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Rather, the AHA resolution is similar to the resolution which previously failed to pass a membership vote at the Moddern Language Association in 2014, denouncing Israel for allegedly violating the academic freedom of Palestinians.

But the AHA resolution is just as much a part of the BDS agenda, and would set the stage in later years for a full BDS resolution at AHA. Where BDS supporters think they can pass a full academic boycott they do; where they think they can’t, they try interim steps.

I analyze the AHA resolution below.


1. Background: Prior Attempt at 2015 AHA Meeting

Last year, the AHA rejected two anti-Israel resolutions, mainly due to a technicality (a missed deadline).

The resolutions were put forth by the far-left, anti-Israel outfit, “Historians Against the War” (HAW); a group of historians who found it appropriate to cast historical judgment on Israel’s 2014 Gaza operation, before it was even over. The resolutions criticized Israel for allegedly targeting an oral history archive at the Islamic University in Gaza and for denying access of foreign scholars and Palestinian students to universities in the West Bank and Gaza. A third resolution, calling for BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions of Israel), was tabled prior to the 2015 AHA meeting.

[New York City, February 15, 2003]

At the time of the 2015 annual meeting, there was some controversy regarding the authorship of the BDS resolution and the relationship between the BDS resolution and the other resolutions (see here and here). HAW insisted that they were not promoting BDS, despite their organization’s official endorsement of it. Regardless, it is evident that all of these resolutions are linked by a long term incremental strategy: first a condemnation of Israel, followed by a boycott resolution on the basis of said condemnation. This will become clear later in this post.

HAW was criticized for not supporting their claims and for asking an organization of historians to pass judgment on a complicated political matter without sufficient evidence, documentation, nuance, context, and time.

As Prof. Jeffrey Herf of the University of Maryland wrote on this website last year:

To ask historians at a Business Meeting to reach conclusions about assertions of fact regarding events that supposedly occurred during the Gaza War and [the] travel rights of scholars in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank was absurd. This was the case because it was asking historians to act on the basis [of] political opinions rather than as a result of careful examination of evidence. No one, we argued, was able to make such assessments as a result of scholarly research. Doing so without research would be abolishing the distinction between politics and scholarship—doing what no historian should do, namely assume what remained to be proven before examination of evidence had taken place.”

The resolutions were defeated at last year’s Business Meeting by at vote of 144 to 51 with 3 abstentions.

2. This Year’s Resolution 

This year, once again the AHA will consider a resolution put forth by HAW.

The language of the resolution is as follows:

WHEREAS, members of the historical profession support the Right to Education, including the universal access to higher education enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and
WHEREAS, members of the historical profession are dedicated to the documentation of human experience through the collection and preservation of historical information;
WHEREAS, the Right to Education can be exercised only when students and faculty alike have the freedom of movement to teach and study at institutions of their choice; and
WHEREAS, Israel’s restrictions on the movement of faculty, staff and visitors in the West Bank impede the regular functioning of instruction and university activities at Palestinian institutions of higher learning2; and
WHEREAS, Israel routinely refuses to allow students from Gaza to travel in order to pursue higher education abroad, and even at West Bank universities; and3
WHEREAS, the Right to Education is undermined or deterred when educational institutions are damaged, or partially destroyed, and when state authorities raid, and even close, campuses; and
WHEREAS, during its siege of Gaza in the summer of 2014, Israel bombarded fourteen institutions of higher learning, partially or completely destroying nine of them, including the Islamic University of Gaza, which houses the Oral History Center;4 and
WHEREAS, the Israeli military routinely invades university campuses in Jerusalem and the West Bank and frequently impedes entry;5 and
WHEREAS, the Right to Education can be exercised fully and freely only when students have access to a broad range of ideas and a faculty of diverse backgrounds; and
WHEREAS, Israel restricts the right to lecture, teach, or attend Palestinian universities by denying entry to select foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, thereby denying Palestinian educational institutions the rich experiences enjoyed in other universities worldwide;6
THEREFOREBE IT RESOLVED that the AHA upholds the rights of all faculty and students, including Palestinians, to pursue their education and research freely and wherever they choose, and therefore,
BE FURTHER RESOLVED that the AHA calls for the immediate reversal of Israeli policies that restrict the freedom of movement required to exercise this right, including denial of entry of foreign nationals seeking to participate in educational programs; and
BE FURTHER RESOLVED that the AHA calls for the cessation of attacks on Palestinian educational institutions, including raids on campuses, which undermine and deter education and endanger historical records;
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the AHA commits itself to continuing to monitor Israeli actions that restrict the right to education in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

3. HAW’s Supporting “Documents & Analysis” are Unfit for Professional Historians

This time, HAW has supplied documentation in support of its resolution, which while supposedly presenting factual evidence and context on a level fit for professional historians, is, unfortunately, a insulting disgrace.

Compiled by Sherna Berger Gluck, of California State University, Long Beach, a long time veteran of the US campaign for the academic boycott of Israel and former host of “Radio Intifada”, its title is “Impediments to Education in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: A Publication of the Palestine-Israel Working Group of Historians Against the War” (the order of Palestine-Israel is telling) and is part of a series called “Conflicts in Context: Historical Documents & Analysis from Historians Against the War”.

Historians Against The War 2016 Palestine Resolution Guide Cover

Despite the name, context is one thing clearly missing from this document. The remainder of this section will analyze this report more closely.

(a) HAW Introduction

The introduction is written by Sa’ed Ashtan, an Anthropologist who has made an academic career in ‘me studies’, in this case being an LGBT Palestinian activist, and who now teachesPeace and Conflict Studies” at Swarthmore.

Needless to say Mr. Ashtan is a BDS activist and signed the Anthropology boycott resolution. His activism takes him to some of the most feverishly silly corners of BDS, including campaigning against Pinkwashing (in which Israel is accused of tolerating gays as a means of oppression [for background see herehere, and here]) and “Faithwashing”, the comically perverse attempt to condemn Islamic/Jewish interfaith dialogue if it occurs on any terms other than capitulation to BDS (Ashtan accuses the liberal, ecumenical Shalom Hartman Institute of “supporting the status quo”, a rich accusation coming from an Ivy League educated, Swarthmore professor of Peace Studies, himself attempting to sabotage dialogue and peace negotiations).

Like the report submitted to Ashtan’s home discipline of Anthropology, this document is a litany of claims with little factual content, minimal support for the allegations made, and a completely one-sided report written in a hysterical, rather than historical tone. That this Anthropologist leads off this ‘historical document’ is telling.

Ashtan leads with the story of Berlanty Azam who was deported from the West Bank to Gaza in the midst of her undergraduate studies in 2009. The story is told without mentioning the reasons her petition to the Israeli Supreme Court was denied, failing also to mention that her story actually concluded with a happy ending back in 2010. Telling this story was meant to suggest that such cases are typical; yet the international fame and media attention devoted to this particular story would suggest the opposite.

While Atshan neglects to update his readers on Ms. Azam’s story, he proceeds to offer an update of his own, quoting a report by the Israeli NGO “Gisha”, without mentioning that the report he cites (and which the resolution itself cites in footnote 3, in support of the ‘Whereas’ claim regarding purported routine restrictions on travel) actually concedes that Israel allows Gazans to depart via Israel to Jordan, complaining that the process is “too little too slow”.

Reasonable people can disagree about what a prudent security policy of allowing Gazans to enter Israel should be. It might be worth mentioning that Gaza has an additional border with Egypt (via the Rafah Crossing), or that involved in the procedures to allow travel for Gaza’s residence are also Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas itself, each introducing their own obstacles and complications. HAW’s report, of course, makes no mention of Rafah or Egypt, let alone the PA, Jordan, or Hamas. Perhaps next year they will?

The remainder of Atshan’s report is sprinkled with hyperbole and unsupported facts. He asserts, without any evidence, and contrary to the very assertion made by Israeli officials and courts, that these “violations of Palestinian educational infrastructure have little to do with security”. Further, he asserts that “A byproduct of Israel’s occupations…is its policy to limit the free development of ideas and knowledge” in Palestinian institutions. While it is puzzling how an alleged policy can be a byproduct, it is especially ironic coming from a Palestinian scholar who managed to study at Swarthmore and Harvard, despite this “policy”, but who actually, by advocating for boycott, is directly advocating the limitation of the free development of ideas and knowledge, and not as a byproduct!

Atshan then proceeds to the familiar claim that:

While Israeli universities are able to recruit whomever they please, Palestinian institutions are largely unable to avail themselves of the talented diaspora and solidarity communities of academics who seek to teach at Palestinian universities. Moreover, while Israeli scholars are able to conduct research in Israel/Palestine, and their historians have access to archives, Palestinian scholars are severely limited in their access.”

One might be forgiven for wondering where this is going, until Atshan mentions the Orwellian named “Right to Education Campaign” at Birzeit University, essentially a BDS front (is this what HAW really means by the Palestinian ‘right to education’?), followed by the hallowed “call” by Palestinian “Civil Society” for BDS, promising his readers that such a call distinguishes between institutions and individuals. The relevance of all this is puzzling.

Apparently, Atshan didn’t get the memo that HAW is not interested in BDS, only in protecting Palestinian academic freedom. We emphasize this, because HAW continues to insist that this resolution has nothing to do with BDS, calling such claims a “red herring“.

(b) Section on The Palestinian Right to Education

This section is a compilation of various unconnected sections.

IIA. is an aptly named “partial chronology” (emphasis added), apparently with no author, last updated in June of 2015, consisting of links to news items going back to May 2008 with no context or explanation. Apparently we were too quick before to equate this report to the ludicrously one-sided Task Force Report offered to the American Anthropological Association, as this document makes the AAA document look like real scholarship. That a document like this would be submitted to an association of historians is, frankly, embarrassing.

II.B. is an “Abbreviated” (by whom?!) version of a report by “a delegation of British, French, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish academics” (full reports here and here) (what the document neglects to mention, is that these documents are explicitly partisan BDS reports; in fact, the second of the two links, courtesy of BRICUP, states explicitly, right at the top, that the report was commissioned by PACBI – the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel Committee).

IIC. Is an article from the anti-Israel, pro-BDS website, Mondoweiss, titled “Imagine you are a Palestinian Academic or a Student” by Nazmi Al-Masri of the Islamic University of Gaza. The piece is a long list of anecdotes of suffering in Gaza, each beginning with “Imagine you are…”, that the reader is invited to empathize with. The tragic difficulties faced by Gaza’s residence are palpable and real. Nobody denies them. So what is the article’s relevance to the report? Its operational conclusion is as follows:

Nobody knows when these unbearable restrictions and this suffering will become history apart from Israel, its strongest ally, the USA, and the EU governments who could force Israel to end its inhumane and illegitimate military measures – which plant seeds of hatred, violence and extremism – by lifting the siege, respecting human rights and above all ending the occupation. These steps would plant the seeds of tolerance, co-existence and peace.”

While nobody does in fact know when exactly these restrictions will become ‘history’, it is ironic that after a long list of invitations to ‘imagine’, the author displays very little imagination indeed: it’s not difficult to imagine that all of these restrictions will become history as soon as the Hamas government in Gaza ceases to wage war and terror on Israel and Israeli civilians. Imagine that!

(c) Researching Palestine: Records, Cultural Properties, and the Politics of Archival Declassification

III.A. “Destruction and Appropriation of Palestinian History and Cultural Property: The Responsibility of Historians”, is by Stanford’s Joel Beinin, veteran anti-Israel advocate and former president of the Middle East Studies Association.

Beinin doesn’t disappoint. His piece begins:

Israel as a state and society is premised on the destruction of the history and living society of the Palestinian Arab people”.

More interestingly, Beinin attempts to explain the potential relevance of all this to the AHA: The ‘destruction of Palestinian Arab society includes many instances of destruction of cultural property’, something that should concern historians.

A specious comparison is drawn to the physical destruction of Iraqi libraries and museums in the wake of the Iraq war. How you might ask? Here’s how:

  1. Books from abandoned Palestinian homes were ‘looted’ by Israel as recently as 1948 (i.e 67 years ago, during a war);
  2. “Settlers masquerading as archeologists” (aka archeologists) have conducted excavations in the city of David. By digging, the archeologists have destroyed evidence of other peoples living there. So the Israeli archeological digs in the City of David (which most recently found the seal of King Hezekiah) is the ‘destruction’ of cultural property? Orwell would be proud!
  3. In 1982, the Israeli army “looted the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Research Center” (no kidding! Read the document!). The seizure of intelligence information of a terrorist army’s ‘research center’ in the midst of a war against the same organization constitutes “destruction of cultural property”! Similarly, in 2001 with the PLO’s Headquarters (Orient House) in Jerusalem.
  4. A long dispute (involving litigation) regarding the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s endeavor to construct a Museum of Tolerance over part of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.
  5. The unhiring of Prof. Steven Salaita at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign  I suppose Stanford’s history department has discovered that UIUC is really an arm of the Israeli government. Presumably, Prof. Salaita’s unhiring is somehow a physical destruction of Palestinian historical property. I wonder how many other tenure disputes will be litigated by the AHA on these grounds! Perhaps Tim Tebow’s release by the Eagles should be taken up by the AHA as well. Regardless, the two seem of equal relevance to this resolution.
  6. Not to be undone, Norman Finkelstein’s denial of tenure at DePaul is mentioned as well.

Finally, in case you’ve lost track of what Prof Beinin is arguing for (purportedly the relevance of all of this to the AHA), a discussion of BDS follows. Beinin admits that historians do not

have any particular professional competence on whether or not this [BDS] is an appropriate measure. We do have an obligation…to point out that [this]…has nothing to do with anti-semitism”.

While historians are apparently equally incompetent to judge the merits of BDS, some historians are more equal than others, e.g. Prof Beinin, who then proceeds to tell us that

An absolute faith in the efficacy of dialogue often relies on historical amnesia and category errors…Dialogue can be meaningful only when conducted among parties of equal status. In the case of Israel/Palestine, dialogue has most often served to perpetuate the status quo” (like tenure at Stanford, one supposes).

Beinin, it seems, didn’t get the ‘we don’t deal with BDS‘ memo either.  So the documents “supporting” the resolution contribute little to what the resolution is purportedly about, all the while attempting to build a (flimsy) case for BDS, rather than support the factual allegations in the resolution itself.

4. Other Historians Critique the Resolution

Prof. Herf has once again stepped up against the resolution again this year, forcefully writing:

as historians we have neither the knowledge nor expertise to evaluate conflicting factual assertions about events in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. These remain powerful reasons to vote against this resolution.

Moreover, it is possible that what this resolution asserts about the policies of the government of Israel is not true.  The standards of evaluation we use in this case should be comparable to those we demand of ourselves in our work as historians.  It is fair to insist that where there is an indictment, we must pay attention to the case for the defense. It was for this reason that I asked Israeli Embassy in Washington to reply to the assertions made in the HAW resolution.”

In fact, Professor Herf has referenced a statement by the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC which responds to each of the allegations in the resolution and asserts that, contrary to the HAW resolution, (a) Israel does not as a matter of routine policy restrict the movement of faculty, staff and visitors in the West Bank, (b) the extent to which movements are restricted or Israeli military forces enter Palestinian universities (as in Tul-karm), it is because Palestinian universities periodically serve as sites of violence and incitement, (c) There are no restrictions on foreign academics teaching in the West Bank, they are free to enter, unless there are exceptional security concerns, (d) Israel does not routinely refuse to allow students from Gaza to travel to pursue education abroad and at West Bank universities but permission may be restricted if members of Hamas seek to continue their activities in the West Bank ,and (e) in the war of 2014, Israel bombed the Islamic University not because it was a university but because it was used by the terrorist organization Hamas to manufacture and fire rockets at Israeli civilians.

The Embassy statement points out that the number of undergraduates in the last ten years at Palestinian universities doubled from 129,000 in 2005 to 209,000 in 2015, the number of graduate students in that period tripled from 14,000 to 36,800 and the faculty increased from 3,700 to 6,880. The Israeli government would not support this remarkable expansion if it were adopting the policies alleged in the HAW resolution. It also bears mentioning that almost all of the universities in the West Bank and Gaza were founded after 1967.”

Prof. Herf concludes, sensibly:

AHA members do not need to accept the, in my view, plausible case that Israel presents in order to vote against this resolution. All they need to do is acknowledge the limits of our ability as historians to reach a judgment about the facts in dispute.”

Also speaking out against the resolution is the Alliance for Academic Freedom of the progressive Third Narrative, which released two statements: The first is an assessment of the state of Academic Freedom worldwide; the second, a direct response to the HAW resolution. Both documents are worth reading in full (they are also summarized here).

The first document states:

It is well documented that scores of nations around the globe regularly infringe on education rights and academic freedom in ways that warrant at least as much attention as Israel’s actions. If the AHA or any organization of American scholars is to commit itself to monitoring foreign governments’ actions that affect education, it must do so in a way that is fair and commensurate with the problems…

Given the dire state of academic freedom around the world, Israel would not strike a reasonable observer as the proper place for an American scholarly society to train its focus.”

The document surveys the real violations of academic freedom (cases in which regimes directly affect the ability or freedom of scholars to pursue their scholarship) in numerous countries. This list includes obvious egregious examples such as China, Iran, the Arab World (including the Palestinian Authority), ISIS, but also, Turkey, Singapore, India, South Africa, and South Korea. Obviously, none of these countries are sought for condemnation by the AHA.

The second document elaborates further, pointing out that restrictions on granting of visas are routine. In fact:

Foreign academics are free to enter the West Bank after acquiring a visa or permit—a standard procedure the world over. They can receive a three-month visa to the West Bank that can be renewed for up to twenty-seven months. More than 90 percent of academic applications are approved. Denials typically occur for security reasons. Israeli decisions on granting visas or allowing border entry are also subject to judicial review. Visa denials perceived to be unjustified can be overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court, to which all non-admitted persons have a right of appeal. Israel’s policy thus resembles other that of democratic states. In 2012, for example, only 142 Americans were denied entry into Israel out of some 626,000 applicants—a refusal rate of 0.023 percent. In comparison, in 2012, the United States denied Israeli applications for “B” visas was at a rate of 5.4 percent. By this measure, the U.S.’s practices were far more restrictive than Israel’s.” (emphasis added).

The document provides context and extensive evidence on the Islamic University of Gaza’s role in Hamas’ operations, as well as background on the alleged “routine invasions” by Israeli forces of Palestinian campuses:

For example, the resolution claims that Israel “routinely invades university campuses in Jerusalem and the West Bank.” But the evidence provided in the resolution via the corresponding footnote (no. 5) amounts only to a single September 17, 2013 letter from Peter Sluglett, then the president of the Middle Eastern Studies Association. That letter in turn refers only to a single incident at the al-Quds University that does not describe an invasion. According to this letter, which is based on a report from the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, Israeli forces seeking to enter the al-Quds campus engaged in clashes with university guards and staff on September 8, wounding two men. (No Israeli perspective was provided.)

Prof. Sluglett’s description of the incident comes nowhere near supporting the resolution’s broad allegation of “routine invasions.” Further research is needed to determine whether the incident amounted to an infringement of academic freedom by Israeli authorities, or whether the description offered by the resolution is even accurate. As it stands, the current resolution fails to meet the AHA guideline that “in all cases, the facts should be established, to the extent that is possible, before a public statement is drafted—much less circulated.” For a claim as sweeping as the one in the resolution, substantial and unimpeachable evidence should be furnished, not one letter regarding a single incident.

In some cases when Israeli authorities have entered campuses, it is at least plausible that they were responding to threats of terrorism. On December 23, 2015 for example, news outlets reported that a Hamas terror cell, which was planning suicide bombings and car bombings, involved as many as twenty-five students from al Quds University in Abu Dis. The cell had a makeshift laboratory for making explosives. There have been other cases of students operating as part of terrorist operations, according to the Israeli Security Agency. When students, like any other individuals, engage in planning terrorism, military or police action would seem to be warranted. At the least, these fact complicate the picture of an Israeli militarily routinely and arbitrarily running roughshod over Palestinian campuses.”

5. Will AHA Adhere to its Guiding Principles?

The AHA actually has Guiding Principles on Taking a Public Stand. Citing the AHA Constitution, which states that AHA’s:

…object shall be the promotion of historical studies through the encouragement of research, teaching, and publication; the collection and preservation of historical documents and artifacts; the dissemination of historical records and information; the broadening of historical knowledge among the general public; and the pursuit of kindred activities in the interest of history.”

The AHA states that it has the right to take public stands in defense of:

  1. The preservation of or free access to historical sources. “In particular, the AHA should stand ready if political or commercial concerns threaten the professional administration of an archive, historical society or other institution that has custody of sources”
  2. Freedom of expression, in particular the censorship of the writing, exhibiting, or teaching of history.
  3. Freedom of movement and travel for historians to and from the United States.
  4. Equal access to historical materials in the possession of federal, state, and local archives. In particular “efforts to give preference to private entities in using and profiting from the merchandising of sites or materials.”
  5. Standing with “sister organizations” (i.e. other academic organizations) in defending their rights to (1)-(3)


“in all cases, the facts should be established, to the extent that is possible, before a public statement is drafted-much less circulated”. (emphasis mine)

These standards are reasonable and convey what would normally be thought of as protecting the academic interests and integrity of the History profession. While HAW’s document occasionally (when it doesn’t lose focus) attempts to pigeonhole its allegations into these concerns, their relevance is specious and absurd. To the extent that they are even true, the allegations do not concern a direct intervention on the part of Israeli authorities on historical scholarship, except where such scholars are incidentally affected by more general policies affecting the population at large.

In any case, as is clear from the analysis, the facts are not established, nor is there even a remotely plausible attempt to objectively establish these facts or to put them in context.

6. The Record of AHA Statements Cuts Against This Resolution

Looking back at the history of the AHA’s statements and resolutions bears out that the current resolution does not meet the historical and factual standards of past resolutions.

The last resolutions passed by the AHA were in 2007, concerning the Iraq war and the use of free speech zones. The Iraq war resolution was controversial at the time, but at least it concerned American government policy and made some plausible connections to issues of concern to historians (that the resolution called upon the government to end the war was, like this resolution, an unacceptable overstep for a scholarly association).

Other than resolutions, there are statements and letters. The only such statements concerning foreign affairs since 2007 concern: a letter on the destruction of El Salvadorian archives (2014) a statement of support for Russian scholars deemed as foreign agents by their government (2013) and a letter concerning an alleged raid on a Russian human rights organization, calling on the authorities to return confiscated materials from their archive.

Without judging the merit of any of the above (which this author is in no position to do), all of these cases involve what are at least prima facie plausible cases of issues of concern to historians as historians, and in any case, in none was a resolution put forth by the body of the AHA.

7. Conclusion – AHA Should Not Risk Its Reputation

Reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom or fairness of Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Israeli government (as shown in the statement from the Israeli Embassy) claims the restrictions on movement from the West Bank and Gaza are necessary for security. Given the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the terror attacks emanating from Gaza and the West Bank, these claims are not absurd on their face. Not all of the facts are available, and when they are, they have eluded political solution for over a decade. For this reason, a reasonable person would conclude that this dispute is of a political nature and not one that can be settled in a Business Meeting of the American Historical Association.

While this resolution does not really help Palestinians, it does manage to misrepresent both the context and content of Israeli policies, displaying a callous lack of concern or interest in the need for plausible security measures to protect Israeli citizens from suicide bombings and other terrorist threats that are a part of daily reality in the region.

Singling out an Israeli policy for censure without a serious attempt to understand it, to compare it with similar policies in countries facing analogous threats, and without any serious constructive proposal on how to satisfactorily resolve the problem, could be summarily dismissed as the product of naivete, were it not part of a depressingly consistent pattern of politicization of scholarly organizations and institutions in the service of century old Palestinian nationalism and Arab revanchism. One hopes that historians of all people would be sober enough to see this pattern.

Once again, this is an example of how relatively small groups within an organization can mobilize against an apathetic majority. As is often the case in scholarly associations, only a minority of people attend the Business Meeting. What this means is that a motivated group of ideologues (e.g. HAW) can create the perception that an organization like the AHA is behind its radical agenda, thereby falsely lending the prestige of that organization to said agenda and in return politicizing the organization and harming its integrity and reputation.

This is what happened with Women’s Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, and Middle Eastern Studies. Yet those fields were already far along in the radicalization of their respective membership. That this could happen to a more mainstream discipline like History at a more prestigious organization like the American Historical Association is concerning and a troubling sign of what is to come in the American academy.

[* This sentence was updated to clarify the Constitution provisions.]


The author is a graduate student who must write under a pseudonym for fear of retribution from pro-BDS faculty.


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Historians? People who sit in comfortable offices and attempt to fit other people’s victories and failures into their own agendas.