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AAA Task Force Outlines Options for Board to Consider Regarding Israel/Palestine

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October 5, 2015

Contact Name: Jeff Martin
Contact Phone: 571-483-1163

AAA Task Force Outlines Options for Board to Consider Regarding Israel/Palestine

In response to mounting interest from its membership, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) today released a task force report listing recommendations as to how the organization might best engage with the issues concerning Israel/Palestine. The report lists a wide range of measures that can be adopted and strongly urges that the “no action” option be taken off the table.

The Task Force on Israel-Palestine Engagement was formed in August, 2014 to examine the issues that have relevance to anthropologists, to the AAA as an association of anthropologists, and to the field as a whole. These issues are reflected in the principles the report presents as relevant to its recommendations.

“These are recommendations as to what we could do, not should do,” said AAA President Monica Heller. “Our primary responsibility is to make sure our membership has access to information and space for respectful debate and informed decision-making. The Executive Board will be listening carefully to what our members tell us.”

The Task Force conducted extensive interviews with AAA members and other scholars  – especially those with expertise in the region, members of NGOs working in the region, and other Palestinians and Israelis. Background material and information on related actions taken by other scholarly associations were also compiled.

The report suggests a range of possible courses of action available to the AAA Executive Board to intervene on behalf of academic freedom and the rights of Palestinians. These courses of action are to be evaluated according to a number of guiding principles, each of which is discussed in some detail in the report, including:

• AAA’s commitment to human rights

• AAA’s commitment to academic freedom

• AAA’s commitment to advocate for minorities, disadvantaged groups, and indigenous


• AAA’s commitment to human subjects 

• A critical awareness of US complicity in the region

• The Executive Board’s fiduciary obligation to the Association

• The Executive Board’s obligation to flexible democratic practice within the Association

• The Executive Board’s awareness of the extent of the Association’s leverage.

The AAA Executive Board will review the task force report, and also take into consideration feedback provided before and during the organization’s annual meeting held next month in Denver. A course of action will then be mapped out beginning at the annual meeting.

“The Executive Board’s view is that the debate over Israel/Palestine is historically important and anthropologically relevant,” Heller added. “If there ever was a time when this was a fringe issue within the Association, that time has passed.”


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The American Anthropological Association, dedicated to advancing human understanding and addressing the world's most pressing problems since its founding in 1902, is the world's largest professional anthropology organization.

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