Anti-Israel demonstrators (CC BY-dignidadrebelde, Flickr) (CC BY-dignidadrebelde, Flickr)
Anti Israel demonstration

A resolution calling for an investigation into allegations that Israel “widely violated” Palestinian academic freedom was rejected by the American Historical Association.

The American Historical Association (AHA), a leading American organization, has again rejected a resolution harshly critical of Israel.

A petition filed by historian Van Gosse on behalf of Historians Against War (HAW) asked the “Council to investigate charges that academic freedom is widely violated in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

The Council rejected the petition this past weekend during the annual AHA meeting, the History News Network reported.

This was the third year in a row that HAW failed in an attempt to put the AHA on record against Israel. In 2015, an AHA resolution was voted down on procedural grounds after historians complained they hadn’t been given notice of the resolution vote ahead of time. Last year, a resolution was considered by the Business Meeting of the AHA and rejected in a decisive vote of 111 to 51.

This time, HAW leaders attempted to bypass the Business Meeting by taking the matter directly to the Council via a petition, but they failed.

The AHA has traditionally been apprehensive about taking part in political activities not directly related to the organization’s scholarly mission.

HAW had some success with a second petition calling on the AHA to condemn blacklists publicizing the names of people who support “Palestinian rights.”

The Council approved a statement embracing the right of historians “to speak freely and to engage in nonviolent political action,”  but the statement makes no reference to the Palestinians or Israel.

The reference to watch lists is apparently a direct response to the establishment this past year of the Professor Watchlist website, created by activists critical of alleged liberal bias at universities in the US.

Academic Boycotts are Failing

This failure to condemn Israel at a prestigious academic organization comes just days after the Modern Language Association (MLA) rejected a resolution calling for an academic boycott of their Israeli colleagues.

The vote, held at the MLA’s annual convention in Philadelphia last week, rejected the resolution to boycott Israeli in a 113-79 vote. A counter resolution condemning academic boycotts passed at 101 to 93.

A third resolution condemning the alleged hindering of Palestinian academic freedom by Israel was taken off the agenda after their first failure.

Academic boycotts on Israel are failing in the US, despite concerted efforts by the BDS movement to isolate the Jewish state, a recent study shows.

This positive trend progressed despite resolutions by several American academic bodies to boycott Israeli academia.

In recent years, the Association for Asian American Studies, the American Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and the National Women’s Studies Association approved boycott measures.

In November 2015, a meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) overwhelmingly endorsed a motion supporting a boycott of Israeli universities.

However, BDS also suffered a series of failures in this realm. Earlier this month, the Association of American Universities (AAU), one of America’s largest and most prestigious academic bodies, reaffirmed its opposition to boycotts on Israel and BDS initiatives.

The president of New York University (NYU) recently assailed the BDS movement, slamming the global initiative in a recent interview as “an affront to academic freedom.”

By: United with Israel Staff