Image 01 Image 03

American Anthropological Association Tag

Ilana Feldman, a professor of anthropology at George Washington University (GWU), recently was appointed Interim Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at GWU. There was an immediate firestorm of controversy, since Feldman is a supporter of and longtime activist leader of the academic boycott of Israel, which is part of the larger Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

We've written extensively of the disturbing phenomenon of anti-Israel activists taking over professional and academic associations (even associations in memory of holocaust victims), and diverting them for their own radical political agendas. This has been especially pronounced in the long battle that seems to dominate large portions of the social sciences and humanities academy: we refer of course to the apparently serious question of whether the academy should be devoted to the furtherance of knowledge and wisdom...or whether it should be devoted to fighting the State of Israel.

The Turkish purge of academia, which has been ongoing long before the recent failed coup, has accelerated since the coup attempt. Over 1500 university Deans were dismissed, travel for faculty restricted, and faculty abroad ordered home. On Saturday, July 23, 2016, President Erdogan expanded the purge, as we reported earlier. The Christian Science Monitor further reports:
President Tayyip Erdogan tightened his grip on Turkey on Saturday, ordering the closure of thousands of private schools, charities and other institutions in his first decree since imposing a state of emergency after the failed military coup....

Just three days ago, on June 6, the American Anthropological Association announced that the membership narrowly defeated an anti-Israel academic boycott resolution. The resolution was opposed by many Israel anthropologists, including Dr. Michael Feige of Ben-Burion University of the Negev: Michael Feige Ben Gurion Page The boycott, if passed, would have directly affected not only universities like Ben-Gurion, but those who work there like Dr. Feige. Feige was one of hundreds to sign a statement against the boycott, which read in part:

The American Anthropology Association (AAA) has announced that the resolution to boycott Israeli university put before the membership was narrowly defeated. For our earlier coverage of the years-long effort of anti-Israel radical faculty to demonize and boycott Israel, see here, here, and here. [embed][/embed]

Faculty associations have been a focus of anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activity. Unlike at universities, where there are counter-balancing constituencies, such associations can be hijacked by relatively small percentages of the membership, who take over committees and national councils. This allows the agenda to turn away fein the academic purposes of the organization, and instead, to turn the organizations into anti-Israel activist platforms. We have seen that play out at the American Studies Association and some smaller associations. The American Anthropological Association just finished membership voting on a BDS resolution, but the results have not been announced. The faculty association warfare on Israel is getting very personal:

Marc Lamont Hill is a professor at Morehouse College and a frequent TV Commentator. He also is coming out with a new book soon on social justice in the U.S. Lamont Hill also is a big supporter of the "Ferguson to Palestine" movement which uses the doctrine of intersectionality to connect Israel to inner city and racial problem in the U.S.  The only majority Jewish state in the world is held out as the connecting force of evil in the world. We wrote about his support in January 2015, when he was part of a Dream Defenders delegation to Israel and theWest Bank, Wow, Marc Lamont Hill drank the anti-Israel Kool-Aid. For that visit, Hill included this statement in a video about the trip:
We came here to Palestine to stand in love and revolutionary struggle with our brothers and sisters We come to a land that has been stolen by greed and destroyed by hate

This post is an update on the upcoming vote to boycott Israeli universities at the American Anthropological Association (AAA). For previous coverage, see here and here. As a reminder, at the Denver meeting on November 20th, attendees passed a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions. The resolution is now being voted on by the general membership, starting April 15, through May 31. Passage of a boycott means, among other things, that AAA will not cooperate with Israeli universities or the Israeli Anthropological Association (IAA), will not supply journals and databases to them and will not allow graduates of Israeli universities to partake in career fairs. It calls upon its membership to do the same, and more: e.g. not attend conferences at Israeli universities, not accept grants from them; this in addition to the “common sense” boycotts that are probably already in place.

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.

I was a guest earlier today on The Craig Silverman Show on 710 KNUS in Denver. For almost 20 minutes we talked about the use or refusal to use the term "radical Islam," Obama's world view and foreign policy, Jesse Watters' visit to Cornell, and the vote at the American Anthropological Association last night to send an anti-Israel academic boycott resolution to a vote by the full membership in the spring. If you didn't hear about the vote, you can read about it at the Times of Israel. I previously wrote about how over the course of several years anti-Israel professors and graduate students put together misleading and dishonest seminars and publications which presented a completely one-sided view of the conflict. That was compounded by a study commissioned by the AAA in which the authors adopted a settler colonial approach to predetermine the outcome of the study by framing it as Israel being illegitimate, then finding facts to support the narrative while ignoring or diminishing contrary facts. This series of maps, displayed outside the voting session purporting to show Palestinian loss of land, reflects the type of propaganda used to pass the boycott on to the membership. It's the false and misleading series of maps that MSNBC apologized for using because it is wrong. Yet it was on full display at AAA.

The academic year in progress features several Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) resolutions to boycott Israeli universities by major academic professional organizations, as well as preparatory boycott activity to lead up to votes in future years. Here is the schedule, in chronological order, based upon what we now know: 1. National Women’s Studies Association (Boycott Resolution Voting Now through Nov. 25) 2. American Anthropological Association (Denver, November 20)(Boycott Resolution Vote) 3. Middle East Studies Association (Denver, November 21-24, 2015)(Boycott Activity) 4. American Historical Association (Atlanta, January 7-10, 2016)(Boycott Resolution Vote) 5. Modern Language Association (Austin, TX, January 7-10, 2016)(Boycott Activity) Each of these boycott resolutions adopts the general PACBI dictated BDS guidelines.

On November 10, 1975, the United Nations General Assembly passed the infamous "Zionism Is Racism" Resolution 3379. The Resolution was revoked in 1991, but the theme remains the same among those who want to destroy Israel. You can attend just about any Boycott Divestment and Sanctions rally, "Jewish Voice for Peace" protest, "Campaign to End the Occupation" conference, and you will here vile rhetoric similar to that of Resolution 3379. You'll also hear it at some faculty associations where BDS resolutions have passed, such as the American Studies Association, and other associations where it is under consideration, such as the American Anthropological Association. "Zionism is Racism" in words or concept is the rallying cry of Students for Justice in Palestine and a host of other anti-Israel campus groups, as well. The oldest hate endures, taking new forms but never changing its tune. So it's worth considering the words of Daniel Patrick Moynihan in opposition to that Resolution, which we covered before in my December 15, 2013 post, American Studies Association about to pass odious equivalent of Zionism is Racism resolution. Here is an excerpt from his speech could just as easily be given today, tomorrow or any other day:

Last year we highlighted a debate within the American Anthropological Association as to whether to boycott Israel, and how the anti-Israel activists had stacked the deck, Anti-Israel academic boycotters rig debate at American Anthropological Association. That stacked deck recently resulted in a one-sided report calling for action against Israel, though a full boycott similar to what the American Studies Association adopted was only one of the potential actions discussed. The ideological nature of the boycott push is clear in the Report, in which the authors explicitly applied a "settler colonialism" construct (see Report, starting at page 11), which is the prism through which boycott advocates view Israel itself (not just the "occupation" of the West Bank) as illegitimate:
... We found the “settler colonialism” frame suggested by many of our interlocutors to capture some aspects of the relationship of the Israeli government to Palestinians that concerned us and we present that frame first....

The fight over the academic boycott of Israel in the United States mostly is confined to professional associations in the Humanities and Social Sciences, where anti-Israel activist faculty have some ability to rig the system in their favor through control of key committees and programs. Unlike in the real world at universities, the faculty who take control of professional organizations are not counterbalanced by the faculty as a whole, students, administrators, trustees, parents and alumni.  Professional organizations are the perfect vehicle for anti-Israel activists for this reason. The activists have the ability filter the debate and tailor the information provided to membership so as to provide a one-sided view. That's what happened at the American Studies Association, which passed a boycott resolution but refused to distribute to the membership materials requested by the pro-Israel side. The resolution passed with less than 20% of the total membership voting for it, because of low overall participation.  Since then the ASA has turned into a full-time boycott entity, with its executive board calling for a complete boycott of Israel in all aspects, and an entire day of boycott organizing scheduled alongside its Annual Meeting. At the Modern Language Association debate last January on a resolution critical of supposed Israeli travel restrictions on academics, the panel discussion at the annual meeting was limited to anti-Israel activists. At the house of delegates, pro-Israel faculty did get a chance to argue against the resolution, and with that the resolution -- which had been expected to pass easily -- barely passed, and only after the language was watered down. When put to the entire membership, the resolution failed to gain the needed votes, and failed. Rigging the debate appears to be happening now at American Anthropological Association for an upcoming debate, as Haaretz reports, U.S. academics bemoan 'rigged’ fight in battle against BDS: