In recent years, an increasing number of academics and student organizations throughout the world have been promoting the academic boycott of Israel. The goal of this boycott is to halt the cooperation between Israeli academics and academics abroad, an act that would cause significant harm to Israeli research as it heavily relies on international cooperation. This phenomenon could pose severe implications on the Israeli economy, and would significantly harm Israel’s standing in the world.
A new report from Im Tirtzu reveals the level of involvement of Israeli academics in the encouragement and promotion of the international effort to impose an academic boycott on Israel. The report focuses on the Israeli Anthropological Association as a case study that reflects the significant influence of Israeli academics in promoting the academic boycott on Israel. The report highlights how prominent Israeli professors, who receive salaries provided by the Israeli taxpayer, encourage, legitimize, and often promote boycott efforts, including boycotts that directly harm the institutions in which they work. It is important to note that a 2012 resolution passed by the Israeli Council for Higher Education explicitly rejects boycott efforts:
“The Council for Higher Education views the call for academic boycott on Israel by members of Israel’s institutions of higher education as an undermining action to the foundations of Israel’s higher education system” and thus “calls on institutions to consider the matter, and to formulate ways of dealing with it.”
As stated above, this report focuses on the Israeli Anthropological Association as a case study and examines its involvement with the advancement of the academic boycott on Israel, which began to intensify in 2013 after the American Anthropological Association (AAA) began to discuss the possibility of boycotting Israeli academia.
On May 31, 2016, the 10,000-member AAA will conclude its vote on a proposed resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions, regardless of where the institution is located within Israel.
The Israeli Anthropological Association has sent a letter to the AAA in August 2014 advocating against this anti-Israel initiative and calling it an unprecedented and unjustified act of boycott against Israeli academia. But while the Israeli Anthropological Association was trying to block this attempt to harm the State of Israel, another group of 20 Israeli anthropologists, many of whom teach in publicly funded Israeli institutions, sent a petition to the AAA praising this effort and urging them to continue pressing for an academic boycott on Israel. These professors grant legitimacy to the academic boycott of Israel, and to the BDS movement against Israel as a whole.
In 2015, a task force sent by the AAA to “investigate” the situation in Israel produced a biased report filled with distortions and lies against Israel. The report repeatedly quoted anonymous Israeli academics as a means of attaining legitimacy to the baseless accusations raised in the report. These Israeli academics served as the “voice from within” who “verified” all of the anti-Israel charges in the report.
Several months prior to the publication of the report in July 2015, the Israeli Anthropological Association sent another letter in which they demonstrated a complete capitulation to the amounting boycott pressure. This letter condemned and severely criticized Israel for its prolonged “occupation,” urged Israel to rehabilitate Gaza, and called for a solution for the Palestinian refugees. At the end of the letter, however, they once again urged their colleagues at the AAA to refrain from academic boycott.
Like clockwork, this second letter by the Israeli Anthropological Association was also followed by another letter – this time from a group of 22 “anonymous” Israeli anthropologists – that contained an unequivocal call for academic boycott against Israel:
“We urge all members of the AAA to join in supporting the academic boycott resolution on the spring ballot.”
Im Tirtzu’s report emphasizes that all the Israeli signatories on the first petition sent to the AAA in attempt to foil the Israeli Anthropological Association’s effort to halt the boycott are activists in radical Left organizations, which are backed by copious amounts of foreign political funding and operate within Israel against the state and against the soldiers of the IDF.
In addition, the report notes that most of the Israeli signatories do not currently reside in Israel, and the vast majority of them are directly connected to other foreign agent organizations or to the international BDS movement. These facts substantiate the claim that Israeli organizations and individuals represent the head of the spear of the BDS phenomenon and often produce the initial efforts to boycott Israel.
Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg stressed that the phenomenon in which a radical minority operates from within Israel in order to impose international pressure on Israel is not merely a display of ungratefulness, but an act of shamelessness. The challenge posed by the advancement of boycotts from within forces decision-makers to formulate a fitting response to this phenomenon: “Decision-makers and presidents of Israeli universities look to combat the international BDS movement, but completely ignore the boycott phenomenon from within Israel that is being led by Israeli academics. It is sad to see that those leading the boycott are cutting off the branch on which they are sitting and are working behind the scenes in order to mortally wound the future of Israeli academia.”
Peleg added that “The BDS movement is driven by blind hatred towards the State of Israel and is equipped with tremendous resources. Faced with the consistent attempt to harm the Israeli public, we as citizens need to mobilize against it. The State of Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and the only country in the region that preserves human and civil rights.”
Peleg stated that “The Im Tirtzu movement will continue to use all the tools at its disposal to fight against this theater of the absurd in which Israeli academics are playing the leading role.”