While a group of Maryland universities protested the academic boycott of Israel in December, now some local college anthropologists have decided to join the movement rather than resist it.
According to The Washington Post, more than 500 anthropologists have joined the boycott of Israeli academic institutions to protest Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Support comes not only from members of the American Studies Association who voted to endorse the boycott in February, but also the Association for Asian American Studies and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.
The signatory list of anthropologists involved in the boycott hail from a whole range of U.S. colleges and universities, including many from local academic institutions. Those who chose to publicly support the boycott include six anthropologists from Georgetown University, six from Johns Hopkins University, and one anthropologist from each of the following area schools: American University, College of William and Mary, George Mason University, George Washington University, Sweet Briar College, Towson University, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech.
[Read the entire statement signed by more than 500 anthropologists from around the world here]
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel details guidelines for the international academic boycott of Israel, saying in part that the reason for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions is "based on the fact that these institutions are deeply complicit in the Israeli system of oppression that has denied Palestinians their basic rights guaranteed by international law, or has hampered their exercise of these rights, including academic freedom and the right to education."
While the American Association of University Professors says academic boycotts "strike directly at the free exchange of ideas," PACBI maintains that the boycott does not conflict with the universal right to academic freedom, citing the definition of academic freedom as adopted by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:
Academic freedom includes the liberty of individuals to express freely opinions about the institution or system in which they work, to fulfill their functions without discrimination or fear of repression by the state or any other actor, to participate in professional or representative academic bodies, and to enjoy all the internationally recognized human rights applicable to other individuals in the same jurisdiction. The enjoyment of academic freedom carries with it obligations, such as the duty to respect the academic freedom of others, to ensure the fair discussion of contrary views, and to treat all without discrimination on any of the prohibited grounds.
The AAUP said it stands by its belief that academic boycotts can end up being a "dangerous tool." It's likely that the academic boycott of Israel will continue to intensify, and the more attempts to restrict the academic freedom of pro-boycott advocates will probably increase, too, leading to more significant protests over First Amendment rights.