A letter signed by over 100 Jewish and pro-Israel organizations on Tuesday demanded that university heads reject a proposal by the American Anthropological Association (AAA) to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The 107 education, civil rights and religious groups wrote that they were “deeply concerned” about the upcoming online vote on the measure by AAA, which accuses Israel of “apartheid” and “crimes against humanity.”

Noting that AAA is one of the largest scholarly professional organizations in the US and that anthropology is a “core discipline of the academy and its abandonment of scholarship for the promotion of politically motivated and directed activism will have rippling effects for years to come,” the signatory organizations stressed that passage of the pro-BDS motion would have a “harmful impact… that should not be underestimated.”

They requested that university administrators reject the proposal in order to “protect the well-being of your students and faculty.”

The letter, organized by the AMCHA Initiative which documents antisemitic activity on hundreds of US campuses, went on to state that “an academic boycott, unlike an economic boycott, seeks to suppress the open exchange of ideas, collaboration, and scholarly discourse. The AAA resolution, if passed, not only threatens the core principles of academic freedom, but also poses significant risks to the educational opportunities and experiences of your students and faculty, the reputation of your institution, and the inclusivity and diversity of your campus community. We therefore implore you to consider the following detrimental consequences of the boycott.”

It added that if passed by AAA, the resolution would have an “irreversible impact” on students and faculty that was “inconsistent with academic values” and would lead to an increase in antisemitic activity on campus, citing research showing a correlation between academic boycotts and anti-Jewish incitement and antisemitism on campuses.

They urged university administrators to “immediately and publicly condemn academic boycotts in general, and the AAA resolution specifically, and urge the AAA to reject the resolution” and to “reaffirm your commitment to academic freedom and the well-being of your students and faculty by cutting all ties with the AAA, should the resolution pass.”

They also asked for universities to “investigate and implement safeguards to ensure that an academic boycott can never be implemented at your university.”

“As an institutional partner of AAA, you have a direct stake in ensuring that the AAA's actions do not harm your own students and faculty or erode the public's trust in your institution,” the letter concluded.

A previous resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions by the membership of the AAA was voted down in June 2016 after a nearly four-year campaign by BDS supporters within the organization pushing for a boycott.