Towards an Informed AAA Position on Israel-Palestine

Several US-based scholarly associations have recently undertaken debates or passed resolutions with respect to Israel/Palestine. We have discussed related issues in recent years in a variety of panels at the AAA Annual Meeting, and within section conversations. This winter, some members approached the Executive Board and the Executive Program Committee for the 2014 AAA Annual Meeting to discuss how to open up these matters to association-wide conversation.

The debate over Israel/Palestine is historically important and anthropologically relevant. We believe 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. Our members can provide us with a diverse set of lenses through which to explore and understand these questions.

Just as important, we have an opportunity here to develop modes of mutually respectful exchange on controversial anthropological topics that will serve us well now and in the future. After all, anthropologists work at understanding multiple perspectives for a living; indeed, it is one of our signature strengths. If we are able to have a focused conversation in which opposing views can be expressed and complexities can be acknowledged and understood, we will have made progress in exploring how to make dialogue work despite—or maybe because of—difference. We believe this is a worthy goal in and of itself.

We know that this subject is controversial and potentially divisive, but we think our approach can actually strengthen the association. It is important to facilitate exchange in ways that allow members to feel they have had a chance to learn what they want to learn, and say what they want to say, in ways that respect the integrity of anthropology and the legitimacy of our members’ perspectives. It is also important to take the time to have this conversation well, and with all interested members—recognizing that while some of us have been thinking about some of these issues for a long time, others may well be relatively new to this set of topics and deserve to have the chance to inform themselves to their satisfaction.

We will not pre-empt activities our members might want to propose, but we also want to offer some of our own. In this spirit, we are starting with (1) a series of 2014 annual meeting events that will allow for circulation of information and exchange of perspectives; and (2) this space here, on the Anthropology News website, open to anyone to read and share, with an option for comments and discussion for current AAA members.

Please be mindful of the AN policies and guidelines for submitting comments as well as commentaries. We encourage lively conversation and debate, but at the same time we expect it to be professional and respectful.

In this text, we’d like to provide a bit of background information, and invite members to add more information that will help the association decide on appropriate courses of action. Let’s be absolutely clear on one matter: at this moment we do NOT take any position for or against a boycott or any other form of statement or action. Instead, we offer this information to facilitate open dialogue about the many issues concerned, and to help the AAA think through those issues, especially as they relate to anthropology, anthropologists and the association. More information is accumulating all the time, and we plan to maintain a place on an ongoing basis to provide links to this growing body of resources. Comments are open to AAA members, and we just ask your patience in giving AN staff time to check member status before comments get posted.

Background Information

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is a global campaign that started in 2004 in response to calls from Palestinian civil society organizations. Its aim has been to pressure Israel regarding a range of Palestinian rights. The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) coordinates the global campaign. BDS involves various campaigns: consumer, cultural, and academic boycotts; divestment; and sanctions. We focus here on academic and cultural boycott, since this has been the dimension most discussed among academic associations recently (although we welcome comments on the other dimensions as well). The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued a call in 2004 for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. FAQs about the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel contain further information on various aspects of the boycott strategy.

On December 4, 2013, the American Studies Association (ASA) National Council proposed a resolution on the academic boycott of Israel; a membership vote involving nearly 25% of ASA’s 5,000 members voted 66%-34% in favor of the boycott. The ASA boycott bars the ASA as an organization from entering into partnerships with Israeli institutions and bars the ASA (again, as an organization) from issuing invitations to Israeli academics as official representatives of their universities—e.g., invitations to deans and provosts. It does not bar individual Israeli academics from attending conferences or entering into research collaborations with ASA members, unless they are funded by their university or other Israeli institution.

Other academic associations that have adopted a boycott include:

  1. British Association of University Teachers, 2005 (rescinded one month later).
  2. Asian American Studies Association (AAAS), May 3, 2013.
  3. Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA), December 15, 2013.
  4. Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI), April 4, 2013.
  5. Federation of French-speaking Belgian Students, April 2013.
  6. The University and College Union of the UK, in 2008 and 2011, called for the circulation to all members of the call to boycott, but stopped short of formally endorsing the boycott.
  7. March 2014 the Modern Languages Association (MLA) executive board decided to put before the membership a resolution condemning Israeli travel restrictions seen to violate academic freedom that had been passed by a vote in its delegate assembly in January 2014.

We have closely monitored these unfolding developments. The circumstances are complex, but the general questions raised for AAA are straightforward: Should AAA take a position? If so, why? What is the range of appropriate positions we might take?

We recognize that a wide range of positions could be taken by AAA, including no action, further information-gathering, deeper consideration of what the exact nature of AAA interest in the debate might be, and even whether we have left out key positions that ought to be considered.

We also recognize that a boycott is not the only possible AAA response, should the AAA choose to act. Without prejudicing an open-ended conversation, we present some alternatives to a boycott that have been proposed or can be imagined within the scope of the debate as it has been presented here. Others are certainly also imaginable. Here are just a few other possibilities:

  1. Resolution condemning Israeli policy toward Palestinians with specific reference to violations of international law, human and civil rights; and a resolution condemning US participation in supporting the occupation. (AAUP distinguishes a “censure” from a “boycott”; this would be like a censure in AAUP terms).
  2. Call for universities to divest from Israel or businesses (like Sodastream, Dell, General Electric and Hewlett-Packard) that help sustain inequitable treatment of Palestinians. (This could be modeled on the AAUP position on the South African divestment movement: AAUP supported economic divestment from South Africa, but opposed an academic boycott.)
  3. Advocate a more selective boycott.
  4. Use AAA resources to create special opportunities for Palestinian scholars or for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
  5. Organize events at Palestinian universities to help build momentum behind existing international efforts to overturn restrictions on foreign passport holders living and working in the Palestinian areas.
  6. Join the campaign to pressure TIAA-CREF to divest from companies that profit from the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.
  7. Take up the MLA resolution calling for US scholars to be allowed to accept invitations to visit the occupied territories.
  8. Produce carefully researched “intervention” letters to protest violations of academic freedom, following the approach of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA).

call outWe believe we can benefit from the wisdom of our sister societies when it comes to guaranteeing a process for airing what are bound to be deeply felt and passionately expressed perspectives. We are mindful, for example, that it took the American Studies Association six years of various kinds of dialogue within the association before the membership adopted a boycott resolution. In addition, we feel that ASA and MLA experiences teach us that: (1) it is best for debate in AAA to be led by AAA members, rather than by non-members who may have less to lose from polarization of the membership; (2) it is important to ensure space for presentation of multiple perspectives; (3) association-wide discussion should be moderated by honest brokers who are respected by all.

In addition to starting the discussion here, the AAA Executive Board, in collaboration with the 2014 Annual Meeting Executive Program Committee, is working on the following:

    • Considering organizing a task force. Our membership has considerable expertise on the Israel/Palestine issue, and on related questions.
    • A forum or roundtable to be held early in the annual meeting. While the format has not yet been fixed, the event is likely to start off with a small number of presentations of a range of perspectives, followed by discussion.
    • Screening informative films and documentaries at the 2014 Annual Meeting.

Robust advance notice will be given to the membership about fora on this topic at the annual meeting. As always, if any resolutions are introduced for the AAA membership to consider at its business meeting, AAA staff will provide assistance.

We look forward to a deliberate, considered and educational dialogue. Those of you who follow Monica’s From the President column in Anthropology News might remember her opening remarks from her very first column: disagreement is fine; in fact it is healthy. But we need to be aware of her Canadian sensibilities, so it has to be polite. Merci infiniment, et au plaisir d’échanger avec vous toutes et tous.

Monica Heller is president of the AAA and professor at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Hugh Gusterson is special advisor to the AAA president for public affairs and professor at George Mason University’s department of cultural studies.

Alisse Waterston is vice president/president-elect of the AAA and professor of anthropology at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Edward Liebow is AAA’s executive director.

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That this matter is being brought up by the AAA’s leadership is disheartening for multiple reasons, most of which have been mentioned repeatedly in a variety of venues. Some of reasons this initiative is misguided, and profoundly so, include the following:
–Academic boycotts are a bad idea. They stifle scholarship.
–This particular initiative has a chilling effect on many Jewish anthropologists as well as on anyone who feels a connection with the State of Israel.
–Many AAA members have no particular expertise on Israel-Palestine and may express positions and cast votes influenced more by current trends in academia and distorted media representations.
–That this particular issue is being raised smacks of prejudice of one sort or another, as well as a hint of anti-Semitism. Why are punitive options mentioned only in regard to the State of Israel?
–That other scholarly associations have raised this issue does not make it right for the AAA to do so.
–Despite the AAA’s officers’ disclaimers, this initiative has its origins in a so-called “movement” to destroy the State of Israel. Shame!
–“BDS” efforts in academia against the State of Israel have been opposed by Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
This is not the association I felt so proud to join more than 20 years ago.

I am an anthropologist because I strive to understand perspectives that differ from my own, particularly those that seem strange, irrational, or disturbing.

I am an anthropologist because I aim to understand the ways historical trauma becomes discursively framed as collective memory and used as the material for social identities based on bounded and hostile forms of closure.

I am an anthropologist because I seek to understand the competing moral perspectives and political-economic interests that structure enduring conflicts.

I do so not as a moral relativist but as a scholar critically concerned to recognize and examine asymmetries in power relations.

I am an anthropologist because I engage in research and teaching on these topics to challenge the public to think anew about stereotypes, stigmas, dynamics of domination, subordination, and victimhood.

And as an anthropologist, I know that it is possible to apply these perspectives to generate creative ways for subverting the violence of the status quo.

For these reasons, I oppose a boycott on Anthropologists in Israel, our professional colleagues who share these goals and aim to realize them through their research, teaching, and social engagement.

An academic boycott contradicts the fundamental precepts of anthropology– an insistence on listening, learning, and leaving room for ambiguity in the analysis of complex situations; an understanding that the anthropologist cannot be less embedded in social and symbolic relations than the people and situations that are studied. A boycott positions “us” –the non-Israelis–as less entangled, less responsible, less complicit in the militarization and violence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—despite the deep involvement of the US government and corporate world in this conflict. It expresses a hubris of moral purity that one can condemn colleagues without understanding the lives they lead, or knowing the specific labor they pursue. A boycott represents a simple refusal to engage, under the guise of engagement, rather than the challenging investment of time and energy to figure out how our expertise may contribute positively to the goals of peace.

For these reasons, I urge the AAA to consider productive ways that we, as an organization expressing deep concern over the violence in Israel/Palestine, can deploy our expertise as researchers and teachers, to promote peaceful change in the Middle East through supporting the development of anthropological research, teaching, and dialogue.

Such initiatives should include educating ourselves about the efforts currently underway or desired in local universities, colleges, and at the grassroots, to bring anthropological kinds of insights to the publics engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Such initiatives could include supporting Palestinian anthropologists through research fellowships, opportunities to network with colleagues abroad, and support for their teaching endeavors.

Such initiatives could include supporting the work of Israeli anthropologists who research and teach on topics related to peaceful co-existence, the historical and cultural analysis of nationalism, collective memory, the anthropology of the military, education, NGOs, and human rights.

Such initiatives should put our outrage and anguish over this conflict to work in ways that support our Middle Eastern colleagues in their profoundly courageous efforts to promote peace through anthropological knowledge.

I am writing to voice my concern about the upcoming conversation on Israel-Palestine. The goal of this conversation as stated in the announcement by the AAA leadership is to have a conversation in which “opposing views can be expressed and complexities can be acknowledged and understood.” Unfortunately, an examination of the four key panels involved strongly suggest that this will not be the case.

Most troubling is the fact that three of the four panels are composed almost entirely of individuals who have already publicly endorsed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions [These endorsements can be easily found through a simple web search]. In a key panel, “What is the Role of Academia in Political Change: The Case of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and Israeli Violations of International Law” six of the seven members have previously endorsed the boycott of Israeli universities. The panel is composed of many leaders of the BDS movement including Omar Barghouti, a founder of BDS; Rebecca Volkerson, head of Jewish Voices for Peace; and Noura Erekat, a lawyer, advocate and BDS movement activist and Richard Falk, the former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

In the second panel, “Anthropologists of Palestine-Israel and the Academic Boycott of Israel,” five of the six panel members have previously publicly endorsed the boycott. In the third panel, “Anthropologists and Controversial Engagements: the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions,” six of the seven panelists have publicly endorsed the boycott and the seventh has protested her institution’s education abroad programs in Israel. All these panels include anthropologists from leading American universities and from the Palestinian Territories, not a single anthropologist from a major Israeli university is on any of the panels.

The fourth session, “Boycotting Israeli Institutions of Higher Education Abridges Academic Freedom,” is composed of five individuals all of whom oppose the boycott as a matter of academic principle. But the panel, which does not contain a single anthropologist, suffers from an absence of anthropological “street cred.” The demographic makeup of the program is equally problematic: while the three pro-BDS sessions are include many young American, European, and Palestinian anthropologists with research experience in both Israel and the Palestinian territories, leading female ethnographers of the Middle East, and activists skilled in public advocacy, the sole anti-BDS panel is made up of five senior academics with scant connection to our discipline. Indeed, in the absence of a single anthropologist from any Israeli university (some of whom have long been members of the Association), the entire event appears to presage the proposed boycott. Israeli academic institutions and Israeli anthropologists, the object of this entire conversation, have been effectively silenced to the point of exclusion.

In my view, whatever one’s position is on the conflict in Israel/Palestine these proceeding do not meet the basic standards of fundamental fairness that one would expect from a professional scientific organization.

I commend the Executive Board on seeking to undertake a “mutually respectful exchange”, and to use this debate to explore issues of anthropological and global relevance. If we at AAA can succeed at this, we may be among the first in the world to do so, and can serve as an important model for both academics and activists on this and many issues. The ongoing war in Gaza has made it clear that this is needed more than ever.

Although the Executive Board has made it clear that this is not a discussion of an academic boycott, most of the comments here seem to be directed at just such a boycott. I oppose any academic boycotts, and particularly those that single out one particular side in this conflict. The reasons for this have been stated clearly in other comments. [Such boycotts end up punishing individual scholars, not institutions; these scholars are often the very people seeking to understand and address the issues in the region; singling out Israel when other conflicts and human rights issues are ignored implies that there are other underlying reasons for this call to action; singling out Israel demonstrates a lack of understanding of this particular conflict (see for example, the article linked to by Damion Dozier, which describes the firing of a Palestinian academic who sought dialogue with Israeli colleagues) and the larger socio-political dynamics of the region as a whole.]

I believe that anthropologists can make an important contribution to the heated and passionate discussions about the Middle East, and about Israel-Palestine in particular. We are one of the only scholarly disciplines who have the tools to problematize the social, religious and political histories of the public discourses on all sides of the debate, and to explore the everyday experiences of those living in the midst of these terrible events.

If the Executive Board – and AAA as a whole – truly want to support greater understanding and catalyze movement towards peace in Israel and Palestine, academic boycotts are the opposite of what we should be doing. AAA should be encouraging academic dialogue, theoretically and methodologically sophisticated scholarship, and curriculum development. Rather than an academic boycott, AAA should spearhead an initiative for greater academic engagement in Israel/Palestine, advocate for more research funding, challenge universities to teach more courses and create more faculty lines for those who take on these challenging issues.

There are many anthropologists – Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and Europeans – who have done excellent work to help us analyze and understand this region. These scholars have demonstrated tremendous sensitivity and have worked hard to build the trust and neutrality that is necessary in such a polarized and emotionally-laden region. They have done this academic work despite the risk to themselves, their families, and their careers. Their research looks beyond the deep fears, angers, and passions that characterize any discussion of the Middle East; it forces us to challenge our assumptions, helps us to better understand those we might see as “other” – on all sides of the political, cultural and religious spectrums – and provides rare insights into an extremely complicated situation. This is exactly the type of anthropological scholarship that I want to make available to my students. I want to hear more from these researchers, and I want new scholars to tackle these complex questions. I would hate to see us shut down these lines of inquiry through a boycott of our colleagues and peers. We would achieve nothing by silencing the very voices that are most needed on this complex issue.

We might also consider turning our anthropological lens on ourselves, in order to explore the very questions raised in other comments here: Why has Israel/Palestine been singled out by so many academic institutions? Why is the discourse around Israel so different from that about other countries in the region? Why have AAA members chosen to bring this issue to the Executive Board, and not the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan?

Anthropological studies of Israel-Palestine, and of the other conflicts spread throughout the entire region, have much to teach us. Rather than boycott those grappling with these issues, we should do everything we can to support and encourage them.

I have just examined the list of participants in the panel organized by Lisa Rofel
ANTHROPOLOGISTS AND CONTROVERSIAL ENGAGEMENTS: THE BOYCOTT OF ISRAELI ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS and was unpleasantly surprised to find that the organizer, chair and discussant as well as ALL of the presenters in it are not only advocates of an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions but very active participants in the larger BDS campaign.

In fact, the session’s organizer is an advocate of the dismantling of Israel as a Jewish state.

I clearly recall that the AAA leadership had promised to have a “balanced discussion” of this complex issue, where both sides of the argument would be represented. How balanced is this discussion going to be and what would uninformed members of the audience learn from it???

P.S> I’d also really like to ask Prof. Rofel why no anthropologist critical of this misguided boycott and only Palestinian/Arab but no Israeli anthropologists have been invited to participate in this session?

It seems like there are three issues being discussed here:
1. Whether or not AAA should be taking a stand on political issues.
2. If so, then whether or not the Israel-Palestinian situation is one that should be included.
3. If so, then whether or not scholars Israeli should bear the brunt of AAA’s sanctions

As to 1, it seems that 1 has already been answered by AAA’s past policies. As one example, consider their policy on immigration that can be found here:
The language clearly demonstrates that AAA does get involved in political issues. (e.g., the final sentence of the sixth paragraph states: “Backing this resolution with its pocketbook, the AAA, its Sections, Commissions and Committees will not hold conferences in Arizona until SB 1070 is either repealed or struck down as constitutionally invalid (this declaration does not apply to Indian Reservations within the State of Arizona).”) .

So, it is clear that AAA does get involved in this way (whether or not it SHOULD get involved is, of course, still worth asking – more on that below).

As to question 2, I assume that is what this blog/page is setting out to figure out.

As to question 3, as should be clear from the example given above, in cases where AAA takes action, those actions tend to be harmful to academics in the regions that AAA is taking action against. E.g., if you are a scholar in Arizona and would like to organize a national conference of an AAA at your university, you will find that it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to do so since AAA will not support you. Thus, the ones who are most affected by AAA’s policy are the the scholars in Arizona – many of whom, I know for certain, are some of the strongest opponents of the immigration policies that are opposed by AAA.

My assumption is that this is because AAA is very limited in what kinds of actions that they can take and thus the only actions that have any teeth are those that involve sanctions against academics.

Hopefully that helps to speak to how AAA has approached political issues in the past.


It is not clear to me at all why Israel has been singled out by the current AAA leadership as a topic of intense scrutiny and possible punitive action(s), including an academic boycott. To condemn Israel in a year when Russia invades a sovereign neighboring country and begins to harass Crimea’s indigenous minority (Tatars), when China continues its colonial policies vis-á-vis its Tibetan population, when courts in several African countries sentence LGBT persons to death, when various other regimes commit atrocious violations of human rights and the rights of indigenous minorities, and when the Palestinian government is joined by a terrorist organization, will send a clear message that the AAA has a special “Israel (Jewish?) problem.” Even if some AAA members strongly disagree with certain policies of Israel’s government, boycotting Israeli academic institution is the most counterproductive way to express this point of view. Among other things, the most liberal (anti-settlements, pro-peace) members of the Israeli public are concentrated in the academy. To boycott Israeli universities only (!) and not the individual Israeli academics, as ASA and NAISA have proposed to do, is pure hypocrisy: most Israeli academics attend meetings abroad using the funds provided by their universities. Finally, what the present AAA statement does not tell us is the fact that at least 2 regional sections of the ASA (California and East Coast) have already rejected their own organization’s vote in favor of this boycott and that an overwhelming majority of the MLA members have recently voted against it as well. By jumping on the BDS bandwagon (even “BDS-lite”), the AAA will be joining a very (!) small group of radical academic organizations, which have placed politics ahead of academics…. I have already cancelled my membership in NAISA and I do hope I will not have to quit the AAA.

1) Let us be frank and honest, one can not boycott Israeli universities and not damage individual Israeli researchers. Grants go through institutions and are not given directly to researchers, faculties ask for recommendations for tenure and promotion etc. Such a boycott, is intended by its advocates to hurt all of Israeli academe.
2) Hurting Israeli academics which are the heart and soul of opposition to occupation, lead in inter-ethnic co-operation and one of the most important places where all ethnic groups meet is “cutting off (y)our nose to spite (y)our face”. Hurting cultural connections between Israelis and the world should raise red flags for anthropologists everywhere.
3) This attempt to portray Israel as a second “Apartheid South Africa” (and use the same methods) is simply ignorant of the history of the conflict and the situation on the ground. Understanding complexity, nuanced approaches to problems, and understanding all sides, goes out the window in this kind of boycott.

I would appreciate if the people who initiated this political conversation –Monica Heller, president of the AAA,
Hugh Gusterson, special advisor to the AAA president for public affairs,
Alisse Waterston, vice president/president-elect of the AAA, and
Edward Liebow, AAA’s executive director —
would kindly explain how they decide to choose this particular issue as demanding the AAA members special attention, including a possible decision about academic boycott? What about all other political and moral issues within the US and in other countries?

As we state in the article, the conversation was initiated by members. The duty of our officers is to be responsive to the concerns of our members and to help facilitate open discussion on issues of importance that concern and affect them. This is one such issue that members have brought to our attention (the various ways in which we feel this issue is relevant to anthropology and anthropologists are discussed in the text). The AAA chooses from time to time to discuss or to take a stand on a wide range of issues. You can consult the AAA website ( for information on issues AAA currently is addressing, or has addressed in the past, through its task forces, committees, public policy/advocacy statements, and resolutions.

My recollection is that the AAA has actually made many political statements, motions, and resolutions over the course of its history. There was a statement about marriage equality in relation to DOMA a few years ago, and as a Latin Americanist, I have noticed quite a few statements in support of communities and their political struggles in that region. Given that many of these statements are resolutions brought forward by AAA members, it seems clear that some part of our membership views political statements as both important and within the purview of the organization. On this particular issue, I appreciate the AAA bringing this issue – which has been part of conversations in other academic organizations for some time now – to our collective attention. Rather than prevent discussion, as the jump immediately to a “no action” position might do, I would appreciate an opportunity to read the suggested links that have been provided thus far and think about the various possibilities.

As the conversation has still not begun, it might be useful for people to get acquainted with some of the arguments for academic boycott. Many of our colleagues in the American Studies Association have already written extensively on this topic, and so, in order not to reinvent the wheel, I am posting some links to key articles from the ASA blog. It might be useful, before waging counterarguments against the boycott, to read some of these articles. This might help make the discussion more constructive.

Why the ASA’s Israel boycott won, by Steven Salaita

Defending Zionism under the cloak of academic freedom, Robin DG Kelley

The nightmare hidden within liberal Zionism, by David Lloyd

The BDS movement and the front lines of the war on academic freedom, by Sunaina Maira

The Top 5 reasons why BDS is winning

And finally, here is a link to the ASA blog for more articles to learn about this issue:

Finally, to respond quickly to Shari, I believe the AAA has taken a position on some of the issues mentioned in her post, and certainly the AAA has taken on political issues. Regardless, every political act is selective, otherwise no one would ever act. For example, when we mobilize on LGBT issues we are not expected to first consider all other global issues. Similarly, taking a position on Israel/Palestine should not be contingent on taking other political positions, nor should it foreclose doing so.

I don’t understand why professional organizations need to take stands on political issues. I am an active citizen who has worked from the local level (preventing a tire-burner from being built in my area) to the national level (canvassing for presidential candidates). I share my concerns with elected officials and write letters to the editor and op-eds. I encourage all members of the AAA to be politically active. What I don’t look for is for my professional association, on which I tangentially rely to feed my family, to do my politics for me. We are not likely to agree on all political issues, and it seems patently wrong to mess with people’s careers if they don’t share the majority’s politics, which is what will happen if members feel obliged to resign because of one stance or another the Association has taken. My number one issue right now is gun control. Will the AAA take a stand on this? Gay marriage? Drones? Guantanamo? The DR Congo? Incarceration rates of Americans of color? Death penalty? All these matter deeply to me, but surely it is beyond the scope of our professional association to make a stand on all of these. Why Israel/Palestine and not all the other issues I care about? Please let us all be concerned and active citizens, but having our professional organization take sides is deeply problematic. That being said, I am all for panels, discussion groups, films, and the like representing different perspectives.

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