MES Statement on Palestine, updated 5.27.21

We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people against ongoing settler colonialism and condemn Zionist violence against them, including forced evictions and retaliatory violence by Israeli state forces against Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and within the state of Israel. We condemn the recent forced evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem–part of a now decades long campaign of ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem– and Israeli violence perpetrated against families trying to defend their homes.

In October 2014, nearly 1200 anthropologists signed “Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions” to support the global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. On November 20, 2015, a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions was endorsed by a vote of 1040-136 at the American Anthropological Association business meeting. It was subsequently forwarded to the full membership for an electronic ballot and narrowly missed adoption by a razor-thin margin of 39 votes (2,423 against and 2,384 for).

Seven years later, on April 27, 2021, Human Rights Watch issued a landmark report, characterizing the Israeli state’s systemic discrimination and violence as inflicting “deprivations… so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.” A similar conclusion was reached by the Israeli Human Rights organization B’tselem in January 2021. Palestinian activists have long made this argument. It reflects how foregone the reality of the Israeli Apartheid system is that mainstream international human rights organizations now find themselves forced to acknowledge the reality of the situation on the ground, despite tremendous political pressure from the state of Israel and its supporters.

We reject the “two-sides” narrative that ignores the differences between one of the most heavily militarized states in the world and a Palestinian population resisting their oppressors. This is a state which continues to displace, dispossess, and murder those living under its illegal occupation, based in ongoing settler colonialism, and a system of ethnic, religious, and racial apartheid. Palestinian resistance to this violent system of occupation and apartheid is a legal right.

As members of a U.S. professional organization that continues to grapple with systemic racism and inequality in our field and our practices, we condemn settler colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and racial capitalism that connect the United States and Israel. We stand with those working to dismantle these systems of oppression, and we amplify their calls for justice, equality, and human dignity.

Israel’s policies of closure, land confiscation, house demolitions and dispossession of Palestinians, unlawful arrest, injury and killing of Palestinian civilians have continued unabated since AAA last took up this issue. We call on our colleagues in their classrooms, universities, and beyond to:

  1. Reject the “two-sides” narrative that erases power hierarchies.
  2. Recognize the framework of apartheid as applicable to describe Israel’s systematic repression of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and within Israel’s 1948 boundaries.
  3. Recognize that Israel’s violent repression often constitutes crimes against humanity.
  4. Reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism which has been used by Israel’s supporters to suppress legitimate criticism of Israel.[1]


MES Executive Board

Endorsed by the Boards of 18 AAA Sections and 6 Affiliated Groups:

American Ethnological Society Executive Board

Anthropology and the Environment Executive Board

Association of Black Anthropologists Executive Board

Association of Latina/o & Latinx Anthropologists Executive Board

Association for Africanist Anthropology Executive Board

Association for Feminist Anthropology Executive Board

Association for Political and Legal Anthropology Executive Board

Association for Queer Anthropology Executive Board

Council on Anthropology and Education Executive Board

Middle East Section

Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges Executive Board

Society for Cultural Anthropology Executive Board

Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology Executive Board

Society for Medical Anthropology Executive Board

Society for Urban, National, and Transnational/Global Anthropology Executive Board

Society for the Anthropology of Europe Executive Board

Society for the Anthropology of North America Executive Board

Society for the Anthropology of Religion Executive Board

Affiliated AAA Groups:

Anthropologist Action Network for Immigrants and Refugees Steering Committee

Brown Anthropology Graduate Student Association

Department of Anthropology of American University

Department of Anthropology of Northwestern University

Editorial Collective of American Anthropologist

Editorial Collective of Footnotes

[1] An alternative is presented by the Independent Jewish Voice of Canada that defines antisemitism AND does not suppress criticism of Israel:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *