Daniel Markind

Why Is Israel’s security so important? Ask America’s anthropologists

On Monday, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) voted to impose an academic boycott on Israel. The vote was overwhelming, with 71% of respondents voting in favor. The AAA boycott resolution left little room for misunderstanding. It called Israel “an apartheid regime from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

The vote was a repeat of 2016 vote, where a similar resolution was defeated by the narrowest of margins, 2423-2384, after the full membership in 2015 overwhelmingly demanded that this be put to a vote. That vote was 1040-136.

As a result of the 2023 vote, the AAA imposed an academic boycott on the Jewish state, and only on the Jewish state.  No other country in the world receives such treatment.

The timing was curious, and instructive.  During this last week, Amnesty International reported that Iran once again is cracking down again on women not wearing a hijab.   Some women even have been killed for failing to do so.  American anthropologists have no problem with that.  As the New York Times’s Brett Stephens confirmed with the AAA, they have no academic boycott of Iran.

A recent CNN report shows the extent to which China continues to rip Uyghurs from their historic homeland in Xinjiang and throw them into concentration camps.  The AAA doesn’t mind.  It continues to allow collaboration with Chinese institutions.

And of course there is Russia.  In 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine, seeking to wipe that country off the map.  Russia claims that Ukraine is not a real country.  It prosecutes its invasion by firing indiscriminately at Ukrainian civilians and purposely wrecking Ukrainian infrastructure.  Now, it is threatening worldwide starvation in poor countries by trying to embargo Ukraine’s grain exports.  The AAA apparently approves, or at least acquiesces. It continues to work with Russia.

There is only one country in the world with which the AAA will not engage.  Of course, it’s the only Jewish country.

The question is often asked when is criticism of Israel antisemitic?  Our anthropologists provide the answer.  It Is when the Jewish state, and only the Jewish state, is singled out for treatment that others deserve, and often are far more deserving of.  By any measure, the position taken this week by the American Association of Anthropolgists is blatant racism.

That leads to a second question.  What is it about academics that makes them so racist?  Why is it so easy for these supposed great thinkers to justify boycotting Israel, which is continually being threatened with extinction, while playing nicely in the sand box with Iran, China and Russia?  I can determine no real answer to this, but this viewpoint seems to manifest itself frequently.  Is it possible that despite their protestations, many academics believe that, consistent with centuries of practice, Jews and the one Jewish state are more annoyances than anything else.

Following the vote, AAA President Ramona Perez, a professor at San Diego State University, issued a statement.  It included the following:

“This was indeed a contentious issue, and our differences have sparked fierce debate, but we have made a collective decision and now it is our duty to forge ahead, united in our commitment to advance scholarly knowledge, finding solutions to human and social problems, and serving as a guardian of human rights.”

A “guardian of human rights.”  Are you listening Uyghurs?

Academics historically have strived to develop flexible minds, capable of new and creative ways of thought.  In 2023, that flexibility has calcified.  Now, the academic mind too frequently involves rote recitation of historical hatreds and prejudices.

At the modern American university, scholars can’t hate the LGBTQ community (although Palestinian society seems to).  They can’t hate the Asians.  They can’t hate other “people of color.”  The only community that academics can feel comfortable hating is the Jews.  They feel the need to dress up that hatred to match their secular humanistic rhetoric, so anti-Zionism provides the perfect cover.

Anthropologists will claim they don’t hate Jews.  Some of their best friends are Jews.  Indeed some of the key supporters of this resolution are Jews.  To the contrary, anthropologists hate Zionists, and Israel.  If in order to do so they need to single out Israel for special treatment, ignoring the fact that while they rail against Israel’s “apartheid” many Jewish Israelis were expelled from their historic homes in Arab countries during ethnic cleansing operations despite the fact that Jewish families had lived in those areas for over a millennium, then so be it.  Far from being a symbol of modern enlightenment, modern academia needs a scapegoat.  Jews provide the perfect one, under cover of anti-Zionist rhetoric.

In Professor Perez, we may have the perfect mouthpiece for the modern academia.  According to her, it is now the duty of all anthropologists who are members of the AAA to isolate the one Jewish state so that the will of its citizens to resist those who seek to destroy it is diminished while those academics “forge ahead.”  As they do this, those “guardians of human rights” willingly ignore the fact that bombs now are falling on residential areas of Odessa and women are getting trampled in Iran.  Those are not the concerns of the modern American anthropologists.  To fulfill Professor Perez’s charge and be a modern academic “guardian of human rights” means to hate the one Jewish state.  It means nothing else.  Just ask the Uyghurs and Ukrainians.

Do Jews have any rights also that a modern academic should respect?  Only if it involves reverting back to a subservient position in societies where Jews always are a minority and can be beaten, raped and murdered with impunity.  Over the last two weeks Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran met to plan Israel’s destruction.  They proudly announced that this is their intention, knowing full well it will be fine with our anthropologists and other academics.  Despite this clear existential threat, according to Professor Perez and in her own words, it is time to move on collectively now. They now leave the one Jewish nation to itself, oblivious to the radical currents threatening it.

If the zeal of the American Anthropologic Association in making sure it singled out Israel for abuse, condemnation and isolation teaches us one thing, it is that as Jews we most definitely are alone, as we always have been.  Apparently it was so important for the anthropologists to hate Israel that in the seven years between votes they were willing to ignore the Ukraine invasion just so that they could re-vote and further implement their anti-Jewish race hate.

Notwithstanding the recent tumultuous events in Israel, the actions by the anthropologists provide all the evidence we need of the importance of a strong, secure Israel.  The fact that anthropologists claim that Israel is a human rights violator that must be boycotted while Russia is not speaks volumes.

As Jews, we can argue with incredible passion about the events this week in Israel.  In the end though, Israel is all that stands between us and the vacuous moralizing of racists masquerading of academic humanists.  We have 2000 years of experience to teach us how that comes out.

About the Author
Daniel B, Markind is an attorney based in Philadelphia specializing in real estate, commercial, energy and aviation law. He is the former Chair of the National Legal Committee of the Jewish National Fund of America as well as being a former member of the National Executive Board and the National Chair of the JNF National Future Leadership. He writes frequently on Middle Eastern and energy issues. Mr. Markind lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife and children.
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