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Contact: Nicole Rosen

Santa Cruz, CA, July 10, 2023 – One thousand eight hundred and seventy students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff and taxpayers signed a petition, sent today, urging university leaders to publicly condemn a resolution “to boycott Israeli academic institutions” currently being voted on by the American Anthropological Association (AAA). The petitioners also demand the universities, whose anthropology departments are fee-paying members of AAA, immediately sever all ties with AAA should the resolution pass.

AAA, which is among the largest scholarly and professional organizations in the country, has been voting on the academic boycott resolution all month, and voting concludes this Friday.  A similar effort failed by just 39 votes in 2016.

The petition, organized by AMCHA Initiative, reads:

As members of the public, with many of us students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff and taxpayers, we represent a vast constituency connected directly and indirectly to your university community.

We are profoundly concerned about the upcoming vote on an academic boycott of Israel resolution within the American Anthropological Association (AAA), a resolution that, if passed, could fundamentally undermine academic freedom and harm the educational opportunities and experiences of your students and faculty.

As a University engaged in the Department Services Program (DSP) with the AAA, you hold a direct stake in ensuring that the AAA's decisions do not adversely affect your institution, its students and faculty, or the trust placed in you by the public.

We stand united with 107 education, civil rights, and religious groups that have recently called on you to:

  • Immediately and publicly condemn academic boycotts in general, and the AAA resolution specifically, and urge the AAA to reject the resolution.
  • Reaffirm your commitment to academic freedom and the well-being of your students and faculty by cutting all ties with the AAA, should the resolution pass.
  • Investigate and implement safeguards to ensure that an academic boycott can never be implemented at your university.

Thank you for promptly addressing this critical issue. We appreciate your commitment to upholding the principles of academic freedom and protecting your students and faculty.

The petition follows statements from hundreds of organizations warning of the enormous significance and dangerous ramifications of this AAA vote. One letter, also organized by AMCHA Initiative and sent last month from 107 organizations to the same university leaders, points out that unlike the few disciplines that have misguidedly endorsed an academic boycott of Israel, anthropology is a core discipline of the academy, and its abandonment of scholarship for the promotion of politically motivated and directed activism will have rippling effects for years to come. The signatories noted that unlike an economic boycott, an academic boycott, as AAA is considering, directly threatens to:

  • Suppress the open exchange of ideas, collaboration, and scholarly discourse: By supporting an academic boycott, the AAA would be contradicting the fundamental principles of academic freedom, the pursuit of knowledge, and the open exchange of ideas. It also undermines the values of inclusivity and diversity that higher education institutions should provide.
  • Invoke irreversible harm on students and faculty: An academic boycott would restrict the academic freedom and educational opportunities of students and faculty by discouraging events and learning opportunities including study abroad programs and engagement with Israeli scholars who provide valuable insights and perspectives that contribute to a rich academic discourse and intellectual diversity.
  • Incite antisemitic activity: Studies have shown a clear correlation between academic boycotts and the rise of anti-Jewish hostility and antisemitism on campus.

In that letter, the groups warned school leaders that continued association with the AAA, should they pass a discriminatory academic boycott of Israel, would tarnish their institution's reputation, noting that several universities severed ties with the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), including most of the universities with prestigious federally-funded Middle East Studies programs, when that association endorsed an academic boycott of Israel last year: “As an institutional partner of AAA, you have a direct stake in ensuring that the AAA's actions do not harm your own students and faculty or erode the public's trust in your institution,” emphasized the groups.

A blistering letter, organized by the Alliance for Academic Freedom (AAF) and the Academic Engagement Network (AEN) and signed by more than 100 major Jewish and education organizations, implored members of AAA to reject the BDS resolution.

AMCHA Initiative is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to combating antisemitism at colleges and universities in the United States. The organization monitors more than 450 campuses for antisemitic activity, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and the U.S. government. AMCHA is not a pro-Israel advocacy organization, nor does it take a position on current or past Israeli government policies; criticism of Israel that does not meet the IHRA and U.S. government criteria is not considered antisemitic by the organization. AMCHA has recorded more than 5,000 antisemitic incidents on college campuses since 2015 which can be accessed through its Antisemitism Tracker.

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