American Historical Association rejects vote on anti-Israel resolutions


(JTA) — Anti-Israel resolutions presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association did not come up for a vote after members rejected a vote to suspend the group’s by-laws.

The resolutions were submitted to the 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 Friday in New York City.

In a vote Sunday night, AHA members by a vote of 144 to 54 declined 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 …” It called on the 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 called on the AHA to condemn the “acts of violence and intimidation by the State of Israel against Palestinian researchers and their archival collections,” as well as other alleged violations of academic freedom, and accused Israel of bombing the Islamic University in the Gaza Strip in August during its military operation.

A resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel was rejected in November.

Jan Goldstein, the AHA’s outgoing president and a history professor 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-Palestinian conflict and related concerns about academic freedom, according to Inside Higher Education.

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