MES Statement on Palestine

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 for and 2,384 against).

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 on-going 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 unabetted 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 IHRA definition of anti-Semitism which has been used by Israel’s supporters to suppress legitimate criticism of Israel.[1]


MES Executive Board

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