Jewish Organizations Unite Against BDS Resolution Targeting Israeli Academia

In a strong show of solidarity, over 80 major Jewish organizations from across the American political spectrum have signed a letter urging members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) to reject a resolution proposing an academic boycott of Israeli universities. The resolution accuses Israel of being an apartheid regime and committing crimes against humanity. If passed, the AAA would become the first major academic professional association to endorse the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement since the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) did in 2022.

The letter, drafted by the Alliance for Academic Freedom (AAF) and The Academic Engagement Network (AEN), states that the proposed boycott would punish individual academics based on their nationality, political views, and the policies and actions of their employers and government. The signatories emphasize that Israeli universities work diligently to foster Arab-Jewish coexistence on their campuses and promote viewpoint diversity, including support for Palestinian voices. They also note that Israeli academics often lead the criticism of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Signatories of the letter include well-known organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), B’nai B’rith International, American Jewish Committee, J Street, StandWithUs, and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), among others. Miriam Elman, AEN executive director, highlights the open and diverse campus climate in Israeli universities that encourage dissenting views, including Palestinian voices. She also mentions the various initiatives launched by Israeli universities to enroll Palestinian students and foster diversity and coexistence.

Cary Nelson, chair of AAF’s executive committee, asserts that the signatories of the letter stand united for academic freedom. The BDS campaign, launched in 2005, opposes Zionism and seeks to isolate Israel with economic, political, and cultural boycotts.

Despite the challenges posed by the BDS movement, the State of Israel remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting diversity, coexistence, and academic freedom. Israeli universities continue to offer a platform for open dialogue and intellectual exchange, contributing to the advancement of knowledge and understanding in the region. The unwavering support from Jewish organizations around the world is a testament to Israel’s resilience and the shared values that bind the global Jewish community.