The AAA’s Task Force report on Israel/Palestine: a Valuable Contribution to the debate

By: Dan Rabinowitz, Professor of Anthropology at Tel Aviv University

The Task Force should be commended for three important accomplishments. One – it has researched and written a comprehensive, nuanced and contextualized analysis of a complex situation. Two – it comes out with an unequivocal call to the AAA’s executive and membership to become engaged with Israel / Palestine, and lists an array of options for action. Three, and most important, it offers a penetrating analysis of the texts which advocate the boycott of Israeli universities, paying particular attention to the conditions made in these texts which, if met, would merit ending a boycott. Its analysis (p.83) correctly identifies the highly problematic wording of these conditions on all pro-boycott texts: “These conditions are straightforward to support in principle. In practice, however, they are highly problematic. AAA lacks the in-house capacity to monitor and assess the extent to which such conditions are met, and in the absence of further clarity concerning what these conditions entail, it is not possible to determine whether such a boycott could ever be ended.”

Bravely voicing the concern that a boycott, if administered, might prove indefinite, the report does the association a valuable service. It cautions members against a measure which purports to be constructive and conducive to genuine change, but might in fact be nothing more than a punitive, mendacious and inflammatory gut-reaction.

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