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American Historical Association Rejects Push for Anti-Israel Votes

Anti-Israel resolutions presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association were not voted on after members rejected a vote to suspend the group’s bylaws.

The resolutions were submitted to the American Historical Association, or AHA, by the independent group Historians Against the War. However, business meeting agenda items were supposed to be submitted by Nov. 1 to allow members time to plan to attend the annual meeting. The anti-Israel resolutions were submitted on Dec. 22, and did not appear on the business meeting agenda.

The three-day annual meeting opened on Jan. 2 in New York City.

In a vote Sunday night, members of the AHA declined by a vote of 144 to 54 to suspend the by-law on when the resolutions could be submitted, in order to allow the Historians Against the War to present the resolutions.

One resolution accused Israel of violating academic freedom, saying Israel “arbitrarily limits the entry of foreign nationals who seek to lecture, teach and attend conferences at Palestinian universities, denying both faculty and students the rich experience enjoyed by their peers at Israeli universities and other universities around the world,” and calls on the U.S. State Department to “honor the academic freedom of U.S. citizens by contesting Israel’s denials of U.S. academics who have been invited to teach, confer or do research at Palestinian universities.”

Another resolution calls on the AHA to condemn the “acts of violence and intimidation by the State of Israel against Palestinian researchers and their archival collections, acts which can destroy Palestinians’ sense of historical identity as well as the historical record itself ,” as well as other alleged violations of academic freedom. It also accuses Israel of bombing the Islamic University in Gaza in August.

A resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel was rejected in November after it was found to be beyond matters “of concern to the Association, to the profession of history, or to the academic profession.”

Jan Goldstein, outgoing AHA president and a professor of history at the University of Chicago, told the meeting that several leadership-sponsored sessions for the 2016 annual meeting have already been reserved for discussions of the Israel-Palestine conflict and related concerns about academic freedom, according to Inside Higher Education.

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