EU academic body votes to boycott Israel universities

The European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) has approved with an overwhelming majority a motion to boycott Israeli academic institutions that are based in the West Bank.

The EASA voted in favor of the motion in an online poll “in overwhelming numbers to express their solidarity with colleagues in occupied Palestinian territories,” the body reported on its website on Friday.

As many as 830 participants supported the move in the poll, while only 21 voted against it, and 37 abstained.

The motion had been presented at the body’s annual general meeting in Stockholm in August when it received 164 votes in favor, and zero against.

It argues that the institutions solely serve the Israelis, something that warrants the EASA’s “non-cooperation.”

The motion also seeks “to express its solidarity with Palestinian academics and students suffering the brunt of these discriminatory policies as well as with the Israeli colleagues of the Israeli Sociological Association and Israeli Anthropological Association, who oppose the same policies.”

The EASA’s Israeli counterpart, the Israeli Anthropological Association (IAA), thanked the European body for the support after the meeting.

The IAA had itself decided in June to refuse cooperation with the three institutions of higher education in the illegal settlements built across the West Bank, namely Ariel University, Orot College, and Herzog College.

Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) had passed a law in February, forcing the institutions out of the authority of a body managing higher education in the West Bank and making “the Israel Council for Higher Education” responsible for their affairs.

Matan Peleg, the CEO of the right-wing Zionist Im Tirtzu organization, however, called the IAA’s praise for the European body a “disgrace,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

“While decision-makers and Israeli universities invest resources and effort to combat the international BDS movement, they ignore the fact that the ‘BDS from within’ phenomenon is occurring under their noses,” Peleg said.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations to initiate “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.” The movement has attracted considerable support among many international bodies, especially NGO’s.

“Only this week, we were reminded of the harmful effects that ‘BDS from within’ has on Israel,” added Peleg, referring to the recent move by home-renting company Airbnb, which removed its rental listings in the West Bank.

There are more than 230 settlements across the West Bank, which Israel occupied during a war in 1967. The structures are considered to be illegal under the international law on grounds that they have been constructed on occupied land.