Courses of AAA Action Concerning Israel-Palestine

June 6, 2016

Approved by the AAA Executive Board, May 2016

1. Issue a statement of censure of the Israeli government

The statement of censure will address Israeli government policies and practices that: restrict freedom of movement for Palestinian academics and foreign academics going to the West Bank; restrict access to publications on the West Bank; inflict damage on Palestinian academic life; deny full accreditation for Al-Quds University; deny freedom of expression to Palestinian and dissenting Jewish faculty and students at Israeli universities; and obstruct payment of salaries to West Bank faculty.

The censure will be lifted at such time that Israeli government policies and practices indicated above, many of which are codified in law, are amended. AAA will charge the Committee for Human Rights (or its future substitute) with monitoring the situation on a regular basis.

2. Issue a letter to the relevant ministries of the Israeli government

The letter will call on relevant ministries of the Israeli government to:

  • Repeal Israeli laws that make it a crime to speak publicly in favor of a boycott
  • Change visa regulations for foreign scholars to teach, study and do research in Palestine
  • Dismantle the “closure regime” (term used by the World Bank in a 2007 report) that includes physical impediments such as checkpoints, roadblocks and gates
  • Improve Internet access in the Occupied Territories
  • Desist from having the IDF raid universities, arrest students on campuses, and use tear gas on campuses
  • Grant Al-Quds University its long overdue accreditation
  • Grant the same rights to Palestinian students on Israeli university campuses as Israeli students enjoy for gathering and action, including expression of their identity

3. Issue a letter to relevant authorities in the US government concurrently with the statement of censure of the Israeli government and letter to the relevant ministries of the Israeli government

The AAA letter will identify the ways in which US government resources and policies contribute to policies in Israel/Palestine that violate academic freedom and disenfranchise Palestinians, and will call on relevant US government agencies to work towards effective changes in Israeli government policies and practices.

AAA will charge the Committee for Human Rights (or its substitute) to monitor changes in US policy on a regular basis (time frame to be determined).

Note: A related course of action was presented to the 2015 business meeting for Executive Board consideration in the form of an advisory motion by AAA member Ellen Oxfeld. The Oxfeld motion would oblige AAA to “call on the US Government to cease supplying any military and economic aid to Israel which is used directly or indirectly to support the occupation and to violate Palestinian human rights.” We believe our proposed recommendation is in keeping with the spirit of the proposed motion, is more specific in identifying the problem areas, and will be more effective in its call on the relevant parties in the US to work towards effective change.

4. AAA will participate in conversations with sister societies (e.g., Society for American Archaeology; the Archaeological Institute of America, the European Archaeology Association; the American Schools of Oriental Research) with regard to ethical and legal issues related to Israeli-authorized excavations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the contested ways in which cultural heritage and archaeological research are implicated in these issues.

5. AAA will provide active resource support for Palestinian and Israeli academics as well as visiting scholars in the region, as delineated below:

Considering the ways in which Israeli government policies and practices make it difficult for Palestinian academics and non-Palestinian academics working in Palestine, including anthropologists, to access publications, acquire and maintain research equipment and get paid, AAA will make its digital, online literature (AnthroSource) available free of charge to Palestinian universities in the same way it does for Tribal Colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (i.e., AAA will ungate content to specific IP addresses).

Considering the ways in which Israeli government policies and practices make it difficult for Palestinian academics, including anthropologists to travel to international conferences, and considering the ways in which Israeli policy emplace obstructions on Palestinian and dissenting Israeli academics, AAA will establish fellowships to enable the travel of Palestinian and/or Israeli academics to AAA conferences, and of academics and/or visiting scholars in anthropology to act as teachers, mentors or research collaborators with colleagues in the West Bank and Gaza, assuming financial feasibility and/or successful fundraising efforts.

6. AAA will issue a statement reiterating its socially responsible investment policy (see below), pointing out that AAA has no investments in any company anywhere that does not fit this criterion, including Israeli companies

Socially Responsible Assets:

Securities should fall under the classification of “Socially Responsible Assets” and, to the best of the managers’ ability, should specifically avoid companies that are broadly understood to:

  • Manufacture tobacco, weapons or ammunition (10% or more of the earnings derived from)
  • Use forced, compulsory or child labor
  • Not comply with national hour and wage laws/health and safety standards
  • Not have policies against discrimination regarding race, gender, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation

Note: The TFIP report (p. 80) offers, AAA “could articulate an investment policy statement to ensure it does not invest in companies that have been spotlighted by pro-Palestinian activists as particularly complicit with violations of Palestinians’ basic rights.” A related course of action was brought to the floor of the business meeting for Executive Board consideration. The Oxfeld motion would oblige AAA to divest from all corporations that profit from the violation of Palestinian human rights and the illegal occupation by Israel of Palestinian territory.

The statement AAA recommends is a reiteration of its existing policy that is consistent with the spirit of divestment. AAA cannot divest from that which it has no investments. AAA’s socially responsible investment policy applies to corporations operating anywhere across the globe.

The Oxfeld motion would also oblige AAA “to advocate that all its affiliated academic institutions follow suit (economic divestment).” We believe such an action will be very poorly received by our affiliated academic institutions, in part because of the presumptions it makes.

7. AAA will request other AAA entities to take responsibility for particular actions, as follows:

  • The Middle East Section: to be responsible for assessing the feasibility of setting up and institutionalizing a collection/distribution system for AAA members to donate journals and books to Palestinian universities.
  • The Committee for World Anthropologies (or its equivalent): to be responsible for developing and maintaining an up-to-date international bibliography of relevant sources on Israel-Palestine (as part of their existing world anthropologies bibliography project).
  • AAA Publishing sections/editors: to consider publishing special issues on the topic and spotlight conference panels that would draw attention to these concerns.

8. AAA will leave it up to individual members to take responsibility for particular actions on their own behalfas follows:

  • Write letters to relevant government authorities concerning cases where there is felt to be a violation of academic freedoms.
  • Assess individual employer investment portfolios in order to make investment choices according to their conscience.


For more information, please contact Executive Director, Ed Liebow: gro.orhtnanacirema@wobeile.