Israeli Universities Ask Anthropologists to Rethink Boycott


The Association of University Heads in Israel (VERA) has asked the American Anthropological Association to reconsider a motion to boycott Israeli academic institutions passed at a recent conference, The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday.

Prof. Peretz Lavie, chairman of VERA and president of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, sent a letter to Prof. Alisse Waterston, president of the AAA. “We ask that before bringing this motion to a formal vote by all members of the association to consider revisiting the motion, which presents a distorted and false depiction of reality in Israel,” it said.

The letter, signed by the presidents of Israel’s seven universities, was an attempt to head off a final vote on the matter scheduled for April. The AAA’s 10,000 members will then decide whether to officially endorse a motion to suspend formal collaboration with Israeli academic institutions, though not with individual academics.

“It is both ironic and absurd that specifically those supporting such boycotts are using politics in an attempt to incite and introduce hatred and racism into the Israeli academia. With these actions, they are creating a division where one does not exist,” Lavie wrote.

The VERA head noted that Israeli universities are open to all students, “regardless of religion or gender,” and that a “significant percentage” of the student population is made up of Israeli Arab students who “benefit from full equality.”