The American Anthropological Association moved closer to a boycott of Israeli academic institutions on Friday, as members at the group’s annual meeting, in Denver, voted overwhelmingly to support a resolution calling for the move. The resolution now will be sent to the association’s full membership for a final vote this coming spring.
The resolution calls for the association to refrain from any formal work with Israeli colleges and universities, though it does not address individual scholars. The vote was 1,040 in favor and 136 against.
Members at the meeting defeated a separate measure that called for rejecting any boycott of Israeli institutions, with a vote of 1,173 against and 196 in favor.
A group called Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions called the move “historic” and said that the group would be the largest academic organization to boycott Israeli institutions.
Ahead of the vote, a coalition of academic groups, including the Academic Council for Israel and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, issued a joint statement opposing the boycott resolution. Their statement called the move “counterproductive to the goal of peace” and “antithetical” to academic freedom.
Other academic groups — including the Association for Asian American Studies and the American Studies Association — have adopted similar boycott proposals. The moves are part of a broader BDS movement, which calls for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.