The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Tuesday welcomed the rejection of a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions by the membership of the American Anthropological Association (AAA).
In a statement, the ADL said the rejection was “an important milestone in the effort to counter the BDS movement and in support of academic freedom.”
“The AAA is the largest American academic association to consider a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, so the decision by its membership to reject this discriminatory and extreme measure is an important marker,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO.
“Other academic associations should take note of how divisive this effort to delegitimize and demonize Israeli academia contradicted the very value of open exchange cherished by educators and academics. This was not about changing any specific Israeli policy. It was a bigoted and ham-handed attempt to indict any academic simply on the basis of their nationality,” he added.
“Importantly, the anthropologists made clear to their colleagues how an academic boycott would directly and unfairly harm Israeli anthropologists and anthropology students, and how it would violate sacrosanct values of academic freedom,” Greenblatt said. “This is an important milestone in the effort to counter the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement and in support of academic freedom.”
ADL commended two groups, the ADIP (Anthropologists for Dialogue for Israel/Palestine) and Against Anthro Boycott, for educating and mobilizing their colleagues against this resolution.
The resolution banning collaborations with all Israeli universities and research institutions was defeated by 2,423 votes against as opposed to 2,384 votes in favor, indicating a thin margin of 39 votes.
AAA members had voted by email about the resolution over the course of six weeks. Despite the failure, AAA organizers of the boycott campaign vowed on their website Tuesday to continue pressing for BDS.
In an ironic twist, a report last month by the grassroots Zionist group Im Tirtzu revealed that leading Israeli academics were instrumental in the AAA boycott efforts – and in doing so encouraged a boycott of the very institutions where they are employed.
The move is the latest rejection of BDS in the United States, where earlier this week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order directing state entities to divest all public funds supporting the BDS movement.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, who just last week held the largest anti-BDS event yet at the UN General Assembly in New York, welcomed Cuomo's announcement.
"Following last week’s ‘Ambassadors Against BDS’ conference and the unprecedented show of force against BDS, Governor Cuomo’s announcement is another effective strike against those seeking to harm Israel," said Danon.
"America is Israel’s largest and most important ally, and the Governor’s initiative emphasizes this special bond. This is another victory in the battle against BDS and I am sure that more states will continue to join this fight in stopping BDS across the U.S."