American Historical Association votes down anti-Israel resolution

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The American Historical Association voted down a resolution condemning what it calls Israel’s restriction of Palestinians right to education in the West Bank and Gaza.

The resolution, submitted by the independent group Historians Against the War, was voted down on Saturday during the business meeting of the association’s annual convention, by a vote of 51 in favor of the resolution and 111 against.

The meeting opened on Jan. 7 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The resolution accused Israel of  placing “restrictions on the movement of faculty, staff and visitors in the West Bank impede the regular functioning of instruction and university activities at Palestinian institutions of higher learning,” and “routinely refuses to allow students from Gaza to travel in order to pursue higher education abroad, and even at West Bank universities.” It also accused Israel of bombarding 14 institutions of higher learning during the 2014 Gaza war and of “routinely” invading university campuses in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

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It also accused Israel of “restrict(ing) the right to lecture, teach, or attend Palestinian universities by denying entry to select foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, thereby denying Palestinian educational institutions the rich experiences enjoyed in other universities worldwide.”

Two similar resolutions were rejected by members of the group last year, when they voted against a measure to suspend the association’s by-laws after the  anti-Israel resolutions failed to appear on the agenda since they were submitted late.

Van E. Gosse, an associate professor at Franklin and Marshall College and a member of Historians Against the War, told the New York Times that the vote was  “a complete moral victory.”

“The American Historical Association has just spend a spent a serious amount of time discussing the Israeli government’s violation of Palestinians’ right to education. This debate is not going away,” Gosse said.

Resolutions condemning Israel or endorsing an academic boycott of Israel have been passed by several American academic groups, including the American Anthropological Association, the American Studies Association and the Asian American Studies Association

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