NGO Involvement in the American Anthropological Association Boycott Resolution
On October 21, 2015, a group named Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions submitted to the American Anthropological Association (AAA) a draft resolution calling for the AAA to boycott Israelis. The resolution employs the rhetoric of “ethnic cleansing” and “colonization” to encourage the implementation of BDS (boycotts, divestments, sanctions) against Israel.
The resolution follows a report produced by “Task Force on AAA Engagement on Israel-Palestine” (also in October 2015), which is quoted throughout the resolution. In attempting to justify its anti-Israel and anti-academic freedom agenda, this publication relies heavily on long-time anti-Israel and pro-BDS activists, including Ali Abunimah, Omar Barghouti, Jeff Halper, Eyal Weizman, Noam Chomsky, Ilan Pappe and Neve Gordon.
In addition, many of the allegations and accusations reflect the claims of political advocacy NGOs (non-governmental organizations) such as Human Rights Watch, Emek Shaveh, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), B’Tselem, and Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). As documented in detail, the publications of these NGOs lack credibility, reflecting political and ideological agendas, the absence of systematic methodologies, and the failure to adopted fact-finding standards and best practices. They frequently rely on unverifiable and often contradictory claims based on “eyewitness testimonies” or subjective personal evaluations. In addition, they often make tendentious claims invoking the language of international law.
NGOs allegations featured in the resolution and report include:
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
- The resolution cites publications by HRW to support its accusation that “anthropological frameworks and methods, ethnographic and archaeological, are actively used by the Israeli state to further occupation and colonization.” A 2014 HRW report without verification is used as the basis for the statement that “Israel has obstructed Palestinians’ right to education by destroying Palestinian universities and schools in military strikes.”
Funding: Annual budget of $48 million in 20101; in September 2010, HRW announced a 10-year, $100 million donation from billionaire George Soros.
- Emek Shaveh is cited to bolster the allegation that “anthropological frameworks and methods, ethnographic and archaeological, are actively used by the Israeli state to further occupation and colonization.”
- An article by Yonatan Mizrahi, an activist with Emek Shaveh is cited to claim that Israel is “preventing Palestinian archaeologists from accessing, studying, stewarding, or protecting their own cultural heritage.”
Funding: According to its website, “Supporters” include: Switzerland (FDFA – Swiss Foreign Ministry), HEKS (Switzerland), Cordaid (Netherlands), Norway, Ireland, Oxfam GB (UK), CCFD-Terre Solidaire (France), and Oxfam Novib (Netherlands).
According to its 2013 financial report, Emek Shaveh received 228,120 NIS from the Norwegian Embassy, 123,339 NIS from Cordaid (Netherlands), 84,726 NIS from HEKS- EPER (Switzerland), and 94,320 NIS from FDFA (Swiss Foreign Ministry).
- Quoted in the context of accusing Israel of “restricting Palestinians’ movement which limits their ability to attend and work at universities, travel to conferences, and study abroad.” Gisha’s allegations generally strip away the context of the conflict and repeat unverifiable “testimonies”.
Funding: 2013 budget of NIS 3,864,477 (accessed August 3, 2015).
Donors include: Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), UK, Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (joint funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Norway, Trocaire (Ireland), EU, UNDP, and others. In 2008-2014, the New Israel Fund (NIF) authorized grants worth $213,756 to Gisha (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014).
- A book written by Forensic Architecture head and former B’Tselem board member Eyal Weizman is cited to support the blatantly ideological declaration that “Israeli academic institutions have been directly and indirectly complicit in the Israeli state’s systematic maintenance of the occupation and denial of basic rights to Palestinians, by providing planning, policy, and technological expertise for furthering Palestinian dispossession.”
- Weizman signed a petition during the 2009 Gaza conflict calling for the UN Security Council and the EU to impose sanctions on Israel.
Funding: Received an initial grant of approximately €1.2 million for 2011-2015 from the EU’s European Research Council.
- Following criticism from NGO Monitor over massive support from Oxfam Novib, which receives the vast majority of its budget from the Dutch government, HRW added language to its website, “we accept no government funds from these foundations, only privately sourced revenues.” This assertion cannot be independently verified.