For the fourth time in a row, the American Historical Association (AHA) rejected anti-Israel resolutions at its annual meeting on Sunday, January 5.

The Algemeiner reported,

Two resolutions targeting Israel failed to pass at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting in New York on Sunday, amid a years-long campaign encouraging the organization to take a stance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…The measures — which were introduced by academics affiliated with the group Historians for Peace and Democracy (H-PAD), and supported by 104 signatories — were among a total of three items submitted by AHA members that were voted on during the business meeting, and the only ones focused on a foreign country.

We have covered the AHA before; since 2015, factions within the organization have persistently introduced resolutions that single out Israel for the supposed suppression of Palestinian academic freedom.

You can peruse some of our previous coverage in:

In an article in Commentary Magazine, writer Jonathan Marks summed up the anti-Israel movement’s multiple failures at AHA:

In 2014, a group of scholar-activists, Historians Against the War (HAW), endorsed the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The following year, HAW rolled out two resolutions on Israeli’s alleged crimes against academic freedom. They asked the American Historical Association (AHA), the “largest organization of professional historians in the world,” to lend its prestige to the proposition that Israel, whose record on academic freedom compares favorably to many, should be condemned, alone among nations, over that record.

Because they submitted the resolutions late, HAW needed a two-thirds vote to be considered at AHA’s annual business meeting. They barely cleared one-quarter.

In 2016, the organization mashed the two resolutions into one and, having submitted it in a timely manner, needed to win only a majority of votes. They lost, just clearing 30 percent.

In 2017, they tried a different strategy, petitioning the AHA Council, the organization’s main governing body, to “investigate the charges that academic freedom is widely violated in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” The Council declined to get into detective work.

Today, HAW has a new name, Historians for Peace and Democracy (HPAD). Retooled for our time, they vow to “join the organized resistance to Donald Trump’s regime.” Evidently, they also favor recycling. The two anti-Israel resolutions HPAD sponsored for consideration at this year’s business meeting, which took place in New York City on Sunday, don’t much differ from the resolutions of 2015. They lost again, by a vote of 80-41 on one and, as the voting crowd thinned, 61-36 on the other.

The Algemeiner added:

Opposition to this year’s iterations was spearheaded by the Alliance for Academic Freedom (AAF), a coalition of self-described “progressive scholars and academics who reject the notion that one has to be either pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian.” The group distributed informational flyers ahead of the vote, which criticized the resolutions as “part of a larger politically motivated campaign … across the scholarly associations to target Israel alone.”

Here is the full text of both resolutions:

Resolutions on Right to Education and Academic Freedom in Palestine-Israel

RESOLUTION on PROTECTING THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION in PALESTINE-ISRAEL

WHEREAS members of the historical profession support the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including universal access to higher education; and

WHEREAS Israel violates its obligation to these principles by refusing to allow students from Gaza to travel in order to pursue higher education abroad, and even at West Bank universities; and

WHEREAS members of the historical profession believe that the free exchange of ideas is facilitated by teaching, delivering lectures and participating in conferences; and

WHEREAS Israel arbitrarily denies entry to foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, who seek to lecture, teach and attend conferences at Palestinian universities, denying both faculty and students the rich experience enjoyed by their peers at other universities worldwide; and

WHEREAS, members of the historical profession are dedicated to the documentation of human experience through the collection and preservation of historical information; and

WHEREAS, the Israeli Defense Forces bombed the Islamic University in Gaza which houses the Oral History Center on August 2, 2014;

THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED that the AHA condemns the acts of violence and intimidation by the State of Israel against Palestinian researchers and their archival collections, acts which can destroy Palestinians’ sense of historical identity as well as the historical record itself; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the AHA calls for an immediate halt to Israel’s policy of denying entry to foreign nationals seeking to promote educational development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the AHA calls on Israel to provide free access for Palestinian faculty and students alike to pursue their education wherever they choose.


  1. RESOLUTION on ACADEMIC FREEDOM of U.S. CITIZENS VISITING ISRAEL and PALESTINE

WHEREAS members of the historical profession are committed to the principles of academic freedom, whose curtailment severely compromises education; and

WHEREAS members of the historical profession believe that the free exchange of ideas is facilitated by teaching, delivering lectures and participating in conferences; and

WHEREAS Israel arbitrarily limits the entry of foreign nationals who seek to lecture, teach and attend conferences at Palestinian universities, denying both faculty and students the rich experience enjoyed by their peers at Israeli universities and other universities around the world;

THEREFORE

BE IT RESOLVED that the AHA calls for an immediate halt to Israel’s policy of denying entry to foreign nationals seeking to promote educational development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the AHA demands that the U.S. Department of State honor the academic freedom of U.S. citizens by contesting Israel’s denials of entry of U.S. academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.

This year’s resolutions showed H-PAD’s repeated use of a strategy we’ve described before:

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 Modern 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.

To date, the American Studies Association (ASA) is the only major academic association to adopt an Israel-boycott measure. Legal Insurrection was at the forefront of covering ASA’s December 2013 vote and the reaction, including the rejection of the boycott by over 250 university presidents and numerous major university organizations.

For background and previous Legal Insurrection coverage of the ASA’s and other academic associations’ brushes with BDS, see this sample of posts:

American Studies Association

Modern Language Association

American Anthropological Association

AHA member resolution signatories are listed on the AHA website; a quick look at the list shows that it’s composed of a motley crew of anti-Israel faculty from around North America and even the United Kingdom, including:

Professor Abdel Razzaq Takriti of the University of Houston, who has also supported BDS resolutions within the Middle East Studies Association; Professor Joel Beinin of Stanford, who notoriously announced on a 2008 television program that, “The American empire is going down” and that Jews traumatized by the Holocaust now inflict the same trauma on others via Israel; Professor Joshua Schreier of Vassar College, who led a 2016 Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace event on campus promoting BDS in response to the prospect of a Bret Stephens lecture there; and Professor Ussama Makdisi of Rice University, who is the nephew of the late Edward Said and has been described as “a partisan advocate who teaches students that Israel is an illegitimate, colonial, racist, apartheid state, and who calls into question Israel’s right to exist.”

This is the full list of faculty signatories:

Amber Abbas, Saint Joseph’s University, Pennsylvania
Kevan Antonio Aguilar, University of California, San Diego
Faiz Ahmed, Brown University
Seth Anziska, University College, London
Silvia Arrom, Brandeis University
Joshua Avina, University of Illinois, Springfield
Laila Ballout, Wichita State University
Marc Becker, Truman State University
Joel Beinin, Stanford University
Norman R. Bennett, Independant Scholar
Iris Berger, State University of New York, Albany
Allison Blakely, Boston University
Howard Brick, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Renate Bridenthal, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Jeffrey Byrne, University of British Columbia
Michelle Campos, University of Florida
Clayborne Carson, Stanford University
Erin D. Chapman, George Washington University
Lucy Chester, University of Colorado, Boulder
Robert Cliver, Humboldt State University
Bruce Cohen, Worcester University
Alon Confino, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Sandi E. Cooper, College of Staten Island, CUNY
Emilye Crosby, State University of New York, College at Geneseo
Kenneth M. Cuno, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Daniel Czitrom, Mount Holyoke College
Leena Dallasheh, Humboldt State University
Natalie Zemon Davis, University of Toronto
Dennis Deslippe, Franklin & Marshall College
Sandra McGee Deutsch, University of Texas, El Paso
Arie M. Dubnov, George Washington University
Carolyn Eisenberg, Hofstra University
Geoff Eley, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Esmat Elhalaby, NYU Abu Dhabi
Marjorie N. Feld, Babson College
Eileen J. Findlay, American University
Tami J. Friedman, Brock University
Jairan Gahan, University of Toronto
Nate George, Rice University
Linda Gordon, New York University
Van Gosse, Franklin & Marshall College
Bill Hagen, University of California, Davis
Martin Halpern, Henderson State University
Rick Halpern, University of Toronto, Scarborough
Benjamin H. Johnson, Loyola University, Chicago
Juan Cole, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Hilary F. Kalisman, University of Colorado, Boulder
Temma Kaplan, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Rebecca Karl, New York University
Osamah Khalil, Syracuse University
Peter N. Kirstein, Saint Xavier University
Craig Koslofsky, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Maurice Jr. Labelle, University of Saskatchewan
Scott Laderman, University of Minnesota, Duluth
Zachary Lockman, New York University
Henry Maar, University of California, Santa Barbara
Ussama S. Makdisi, Rice University
Patrick Manning, University of Pittsburgh
José Juan Pérez Meléndez, University of California, Davis
Karen Miller, La Guardia Community College, CUNY
Pamela Murray, University of Alabama, Birmingham
Premilla Nadasen, Barnard College, Columbia University
Maha Nassar, University of Arizona
Mary Nolan, New York University
Oghenetoja Okoh, University of Akron
Roger Peace, Tallahassee Community College
Samuel Pearson, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
Charles Post, Borough of Manhattan Community College
Margaret Power, Illinois Institute of Technology
Carol Quirke, State University of New York, College at Old Westbury
Shira N. Robinson, George Washington University
Laura C. Robson, Portland State University
Louise Rolingher, University of Alberta
Sonya Rose, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Karin A. Rosemblatt, University of Maryland, College Park
Ellen Ross, Ramapo College
E. Natalie Rothman, University of Toronto, Scarborough
Adam A. Sabra, University of California, Santa Barbara
Michal Schatz, University of Pennsylvania
Ellen Schrecker, Yeshiva University
Joshua Schreier, Vassar College
Kirsten Schultz, Seton Hall University
Joan W. Scott, Institute for Advanced Study
Sherene Seikaly, University of California, Santa Barbara
Julia Shatz, California State University, Fresno
Todd Shepard, Johns Hopkins University
Lewis H. Siegelbaum, Michigan State University
Robyn Spencer, Lehman College, CUNY
Paul Spickard, University of California, Santa Barbara
Lior Sternfeld, Pennsylvania State University
Thomas Stevens, University of Pennsylvania
Camille Suarez, Valparaiso University
Dennis Sweeney, University of Alberta
Carol Symes, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Laura Tabili, University of Arizona
Abdel Razzaq Takriti, University of Houston
Judith E. Tucker, Georgetown University
Frank Warren, Queens College, CUNY
Beatrice Wayne, Harvard University
Barbara Weinstein, New York University
James A. Young, Montgomery County Community College
Kevin A. Young, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Andrew Zimmerman, George Washington University
Kenneth R. Zimmerman, History Business

The AHA rejection of the 2020 H-PAD resolutions represents yet another stunning defeat for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against Israel; though many of the resolution signatories have shown their aggressive pro-BDS leanings in other contexts, their resolutions showed a more cautious approach by avoiding the suggestion of a full Israel-boycott and seeking to introduce anti-Israel condemnations incrementally. Thankfully, it seems that most AHA faculty can see through this tactic and have so far refused to allow it to hijack their slice of the academy.

————————-

Samantha Mandeles is Senior Researcher and Outreach Director at the Legal Insurrection Foundation.

 
 
donate
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.