Welcome to ADIP’s website

Following upon last year’s AAA meeting, a group of anthropologists formed Anthropologists for Dialogue on Israel and Palestine.  The purpose of ADIP is to put forth a vision of dialogue and justice to counter the prominent role that boycott supporters have played in the affairs of the Association.  ADIP’s Mission Statement stresses the important role that anthropology can play in deploying our moral sensitivities and expertise as researchers and teachers to promote peaceful change in the Middle East.  ADIP works to defend freedom of academic speech and to encourage the development and dissemination of research, teaching and dialogue on peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians.

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One thought on “Welcome to ADIP’s website

  1. A Reaction to the Report of the Task Force to the Executive Committee

    “As AAA President Monica Heller has noted elsewhere, the Executive Board’s view is that the debate over Israel/Palestine is historically important and anthropologically relevant. The association is well placed to offer AAA members a chance to gain an anthropologically informed perspective on the region and on the broader questions it raises, and to participate in productive conversations about them.” (Introduction p.1)

    How sad it is that the report of the Task Force shows little sign of the historically or “anthropologically informed perspective” that President Heller promised. Instead we have a report that could not be more one-sided in its basic orientation, even if it contains some statements that could be cited to demonstrate “objectivity.” The primary concern of the committee appears to have been to prove the claims of the BDS movement correct–not to understand the historical and anthropological situation as a whole and in its extraordinary complexity. We have come to expect this from an academic field whose obsession has become the search for victims and victimization, but we could have hoped for a bit of professional objectivity and understanding as well.

    Above all the report is lacking in two major areas. First, there is no hint of Palestinian or Arab agency throughout the 68 or so years of this conflict. In an era when “agency” has become a key word, amazingly the Palestinians seem to have none–and apparently never did. Secondly, it appears according to the Task Force Report that the sins of the Israelis are unmotivated except by greed and the desire to control others. The history that is appended to the report has the appearance of a straightforward account, but it lacks any hint that the Arab countries and their leaders and the Palestinians had any role in the events that lead to the terrible situation we have now. There is absolutely no consideration of the concerns of Israelis throughout the long history of the conflict. How can an anthropologically informed perspective totally ignore the worries and interests of one of the major parties? This appears to be the work of a group that was already committed to one side of the case.

    The examples of bias and key omissions in the document are legion but here are just a few. Nowhere does the report mention the primary desire of Israelis for the recognition of their right to their own state, and to live their lives in safety and peace. Nowhere is it noted that these desires have been repeatedly denied, thwarted, and attacked, first politically by the combined forces of the Arab League in 1947, and then militarily in 1948 when armies from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon invaded Israel. Through the decades there were continual attacks on Israeli communities, especially once the Palestinians themselves developed their own nationalist organizations in the 1960s. Here are several examples of important elements of this historical conflict that never appear in the Task Force report.

    1. The word “Khartoum” is not in the document. After the Six Day War of June 1967–forced on Israel by Egypt, Jordan, and Syria–Israel gained control of the West Bank and Gaza (previously ruled by Jordan and Egypt respectively). Israel officially, through its Foreign Minister Abba Eban, proclaimed a desire for peace, “Everything is negotiable,” he said. Seventeen Arab nations met in Khartoum in 1967 and declared “the three ‘no’s” — no negotiations with Israel, no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel. At that time there were no Jewish settlements on Arab land in the West Bank or Gaza. Settlement activity was enabled by four decades of Palestinian unwillingness to settle with Israel.

    2. A search of the report reveals that the cluster of letters plo appear 34 times, mostly in such words as employment, redeployment, explore, upload, but only twice as “PLO.” Reference to the Palestine Liberation Organization is found only in the appendix, where it is noted that this organization was given control of the West Bank and Gaza by the Madrid and Oslo accords. There is no mention of the development of this political movement, headed by Yasser Arafat, sworn in its National Charter to destroy Israel. This and similar groups, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, used every violent method they could devise to kill Israelis and those who dealt with them. They blew up airplanes as well as hijacking them, they bombed civilian sites (buses, a hotel, a university cafeteria, and much more), killed innocent (non-Israeli) passengers in an airline terminal, took over schools with the threat to kill the children (which they carried out more than once), and kidnapped and killed Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. While the PLO’s acceptance of the Oslo accords in 1993 and 1995 required their grudging recognition of Israel, the implications of the current rejection of those accords by President Mahmoud Abbas are unclear. Hamas, ruling in Gaza, never agreed to these accords in the first place.
    To many people the violent acts mentioned above would be considered “terrorism.” Perhaps these are “weapons of the weak” but they do give Israelis some reason to be concerned–or so reasonable people might think. But the words “terror” and “terrorism” appear in this report almost exclusively as Israeli “allegations” of Palestinian terrorist acts. In 120 pages there is only one incidental suggestion that fear of violence might, in fact, be a legitimate concern for Israelis (p. 38) and that is followed immediately by the suggestion that Palestinians are even worse off! The authors of the report show more consideration for the feelings of those individuals who feel uncomfortable espousing the Palestinian cause on American campuses than they do for Israelis who have been exposed to deadly attacks for generations–and still are. (They do not mention the problems of those students and faculty who defend Israel in the face of the concerted efforts of the forces of the BDS in universities and scholarly associations, especially in Europe.)

    3. “Recognition”–a primary, a major, concern of Israel since 1948, appears only as “Palestinian Al-Quds University Fights for Israeli Recognition.” (The word also appears in two incidental and unrelated senses.)

    4. The name “Hamas” appears just once. Surprisingly, there is a reference to “Hamas rocket attacks,” but no mention of the fact that the rockets were always aimed at civilian targets in heavily populated areas. Nor does the report point out the fact that after the Israeli government withdrew its troops from Gaza, and then forcibly removed Israeli settlers from there in 2005, instead of a movement for peaceful coexistence, Hamas took over Gaza by force, renewed its declared intention to wipe out Israel, and began the rocketing of Israelis. (Those who are interested may read the Hamas Covenant at many websites, for example: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp.) This was a great disappointment to Israelis, but not much of a surprise. It was just a continuation of a half-century of such declarations and hostile action directed at civilians.

    Not for a moment do I consider the Israeli side of this conflict blameless, but the situation is not the one-sided affair depicted in this report. There is a great deal of “agency” that we can ascribe to the Palestinians, who are seen in the Task Force’s Report only as victims. A report that was produced from an “anthropologically informed perspective” would have been much more balanced and a better guide to action by the AAA. The association had a right to expect much better.

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