BDS and the Future of Israel

By Dan Rabinowitz, Professor of Anthropology at Tel-Aviv University, and currently the head of the University’s Porter School of Environmental Studies. Served as President of the Israeli Anthropological Association from 1998 to 2001.

December 1st 2014


“I, an Israeli anthropologist, support these four demands. In fact I am on record making similar suggestions. I am troubled however by the impasse the petition, and BDS’s strategy at large, create here. It makes me wonder whether this movement might damage reconciliation rather than enhance it.”


“Clicking support for an online petition is easy, and emotionally gratifying. But people of good will watching Israel/Palestine from afar should act responsibly, and carefully consider the consequences their support might have. They certainly must not endorse a ploy designed to neutralize Israeli academics, a group consistently committed to the Herculean effort to forge some common ground.”

Read Rabinowitz’s piece here.


AAA blog: Over 300 Anthropologists Oppose a Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

By: David Rosen

“Indeed, many Israeli academics, in their work within and beyond the university, are leaders in advocating peace, non-violence and the end of the Occupation. Our unique skills as anthropologists lie in examining and challenging the taken-for-granted while suggesting new perspectives and previously unimagined ways to subvert the violence of the status quo. We urge all anthropologists to consider the manifold ways in which anthropology and anthropologists might move forward in the search for justice and in striving for peace in Israel/Palestine. Boycotting and demonizing Israeli academic institutions and our Israeli colleagues is not one of them, and is in fact, counterproductive.”

AAUP Statement on Academic Boycotts

“Colleges and universities should be what they purport to be: institutions committed to the search for truth and its free expression. Members of the academic community should feel no obligation to support or contribute to institutions that are not free or that sail under false colors, that is, claim to be free but in fact suppress freedom. Such institutions should not be boycotted. Rather, they should be exposed for what they are, and, wherever possible, the continued exchange of ideas should be actively encouraged. The need is always for more academic freedom, not less.”

Read the full 2005 report here:

And, the 2013 statement here:

BDS and the politics of ‘radical’ gestures

By: Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology and chair of the Ph.D. program in Communications at Columbia University

28 October 2014

“Without doubt, BDS looks like a plausible feel-good proposition for people who weary of endless bloodshed. It is not a feel-good proposition for the victims of a blacklist—the Israeli academics whose scholarly collaborations and publications and research trips to the United States BDS proposes to halt, or the scholars who are to be forbidden access to Israeli archives. BDS is not a practical proposition to raise the price Israel must pay for the Occupation: by demanding, say, that the United States cut aid to Israel that goes to sustain and enlarge the Occupation. It is not focused on unjust practices, like divestment from, or sanctions against, particular corporations that sustain the Occupation, like the three companies recently divested by a narrow vote of the Presbyterian Church. It is categorical, absolute. It knows only one set of wrongs, not another. It proclaims that there is but one story to be told of the Middle Eastern tragedy, and it is theirs.”

From: OpenDemocracy


A letter from a North Carolina-based anthropologist

By: Michele Rivkin Fish, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“A boycott positions “us” –the non-Israelis–as less entangled, less responsible, less complicit in the militarization and violence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—despite the deep involvement of the US government and corporate world in this conflict. It expresses a hubris of moral purity that one can condemn colleagues without understanding the lives they lead, or knowing the specific labor they pursue. A boycott represents a simple refusal to engage, under the guise of engagement, rather than the challenging investment of time and energy to figure out how our expertise may contribute positively to the goals of peace.”

Read Michele’s letter: Rivkin Fish letter to AAA re-boycott

A letter from an Arizona-based anthropologist

By: Gila Silverman, School of Anthropology, University of Arizona

“I commend the Executive Board on seeking to undertake a “mutually respectful exchange”, and to use this debate to explore issues of anthropological and global relevance. If we at AAA can succeed at this, we may be among the first in the world to do so, and can serve as an important model for both academics and activists on this and many issues.”

Read Gila’s letter: Silverman letter to AAA re-boycott