The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement once again suffered a defeat on Saturday, as the American Historical Association (AHA) rejected a resolution condemning Israel’s alleged “restriction of Palestinians right to education”.
According to JTA, the resolution which was submitted by a group calling itself Historians Against the War, was voted down 111-51 during the association’s annual convention in Atlanta, Georgia.
The resolution claimed that Israel places “restrictions on the movement of faculty, staff and visitors in the West Bank to impede the regular functioning of instruction and university activities at Palestinian institutions of higher learning” and that it “routinely refuses to allow students from Gaza to travel in order to pursue higher education abroad, and even at West Bank universities.”
The resolution also accused Israel of bombarding 14 institutions of higher learning during the Gaza war in the summer of 2014 and of “routinely” invading university campuses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
AHA rejected two similar resolutions last year, noted JTA.
Over the past several years there have been several attempts in the United States, some of them successful, to impose an academic boycott of Israel.
In 2013, the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to boycott Israeli institutions. The head of the ASA, Curtis Marez, later admitted to the New York Times that many nations, including many of Israel’s neighbors, have human rights records that are worse than Israel’s but said that “one has to start somewhere.”
The ASA's boycott decision was controversial even among its members. No universities actually came out in support of the boycott and at least four universities subsequently quit the organization in protest of the boycott.
A similar move was also made in Britain, where the official student body, the National Union of Students (NUS), last June voted to boycott all Israeli companies and officially affiliate with the BDS movement.
The representative body of all 133 universities in the United Kingdom later soundly rejected the boycott of Israel declared by NUS, saying it "firmly opposes academic boycotts on the basis that they are inimical to academic freedom, including the freedom of academics to collaborate with other academics."