The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) salutes the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) in the United States for its principled support for the cause of justice in Palestine by adopting, at its annual meeting in Seattle on 20 April 2013, a resolution supporting the boycott of Israeli academic institutions and in solidarity with the world-wide movement responding to this call from Palestinian civil society.
Palestinian academics, students and society at large deeply appreciate and are inspired by this most effective expression of international solidarity that reminds us of similar initiatives taken by academics and academic associations worldwide in the 1980s in support of the academic boycott of South Africa under apartheid.
The adoption of this resolution by the General Membership of the AAAS is precedent-setting. This is the first time that a professional association of academics anywhere outside the Arab world adopts such a clear and unequivocal resolution in support of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions due to their entrenched complicity in Israel’s persistent denial of basic Palestinian rights, including the right to education and freedom of movement.
The resolution, approved unanimously, resolves that the Association for Asian American Studies “endorses and will honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions,” and that it “supports the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Israel-Palestine and in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.” .
PACBI wishes to acknowledge, with gratitude, the determined efforts of all the academics who worked on and who endorsed this unprecedented resolution. Considering the prevailing climate of intimidation in the US academy when it comes to voicing the slightest criticism of Israel’s violations of international law, it indeed takes courage to advocate for the academic boycott and to demand that the rights of those who support the BDS movement should be protected. Such resolutions indicate a refusal to be intimidated by the persistent efforts of apologists for the Israeli state and Israel lobby groups inside and outside the academy to keep BDS outside the domain of acceptable public discourse.
This decision cannot but be viewed as a triumph for the logic of academic boycott against Israel‘s complicit academy, as consistently reflected in the positions of the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) as well as PACBI and its partners worldwide. It is, indeed, a significant step in the direction of holding Israeli institutions accountable for their collusion in maintaining the state‘s occupation, colonization and apartheid regime against the Palestinian people.
The AAAS resolution amounts to a clear decision to challenge the notion that Israel’s complicit institutions, including the academy, can be "normal" partners of any self-respecting institution or association. Indeed, it has to be recognized by academics the world over that Israeli universities, in particular, are part and parcel of the structures of domination and oppression of the Palestinian people. Far from being neutral, Israeli academic institutions have played a direct and indirect role in promoting, justifying, developing or otherwise abetting the state‘s racist policies and persistent violations of human rights and international law. As the resolution acknowledges, it is significant that not only have Israeli academic institutions failed to condemn the state‘s colonial policies and practices and the longstanding siege of Palestinian education, they have facilitated, enabled, and often encouraged the collaboration of their academic departments, faculty members and researchers with the Israeli military-security establishment, above all in the occupation regime, in flagrant violation of the principles of the independence of universities and academics.
The AAAS has proven beyond doubt that effective solidarity with the oppressed is the most morally and politically sound contribution to the struggle to end oppression and to promote human rights and justice. We are certain that this outstanding expression of solidarity and support for the Palestinian BDS movement will galvanize academics across the United States as well as in other countries to issue similar calls for the boycott of the Israeli academy and its complicit institutions. As in South Africa during apartheid, only by isolating these institutions can there be any chance of ending their complicity in Israel’s multi-tiered system of oppression against the Palestinian people.