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Contact: Nicole Rosen

Santa Cruz, CA, July 24, 2023 – AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin issued the following statement today in response to the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) vote to endorse an academic boycott of Israel:

“This is a dark day for higher education and, far worse even, a truly dangerous day for all students, especially Jews. For the very first time, a major discipline has endorsed bringing the antisemitic BDS campaign into the classroom. Unlike American Studies or Feminist Studies or any of the other fringe disciplines that have endorsed an academic boycott of Israel, Anthropology is a core discipline in the academy which reaches many students and intersects with many other disciplines. Its commitment to academic BDS is likely to spread throughout the university like wildfire and have rippling effects for years to come.

“Make no mistake about it, contrary to what proponents would like you to believe, the biggest victims of academic BDS are not the Israeli institutions targeted by the AAA resolution, but students on U.S. campuses. The boycott calls on faculty to work towards closing popular academic exchange programs in Israel; to refuse to write letters of recommendation for their students who want to study in Israel; and to disrupt or shut down educational programs about Israel or featuring Israeli scholars or leaders that are organized by professors and fellow students. Academic BDS also directs its faculty adherents to impose an anti-Zionist orthodoxy over their classrooms and conference halls, ensuring that their students will only hear a one-sided, anti-Israel perspective designed to turn them against Israel and its supporters, including Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus.

“These actions not only constitute an egregious assault on students’ academic rights and deny them objective and crucial knowledge about a complex topic of global importance, they engender antipathy towards Jewish and pro-Israel students and incite acts of aggression that target them. Research shows an undeniable correlation between the hate-filled propaganda spewed by academic boycotters in their classrooms and acts of antisemitism on campus. 

“Frankly, it is no surprise that our nation’s confidence in higher education is plummeting. Now that AAA has taken this reprehensible and dangerous action and called for the substitution of bigoted and hateful political advocacy and activism for scholarship, it is high time university leaders unequivocally stand up, first and foremost, to protect their students, as well as for the bedrock principles of the academy. University presidents must immediately denounce academic boycotts and the AAA resolution, sever ties with the AAA to demonstrate to AAA and all other disciplines that they cannot politicize and degrade the academy with impunity, and implement safeguards to ensure that an academic boycott can never be implemented on their campuses."

AMCHA notes that Anthropology was the discipline with the largest number of faculty to sign the Palestine and Praxis statement, whose signatories committed to implementing an academic boycott of Israel on their campuses and in their classrooms.

Once AAA began voting on its BDS resolution, AMCHA organized a statement from more than 100 education, civil rights and religious groups, as well as a petition from nearly 2,000 students, parents faculty, alumni and university stakeholders to university leaders, urging them to publicly condemn AAA’s resolution and demand universities whose anthropology departments are fee-paying members of AAA immediately sever ties with the organization should the resolution pass.

A recent Gallup poll shows American confidence in higher education has hit a historic low.

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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