Posted by: ZOA Staff
January 22, 2016
News Press Release

ZOA Praises American Historical Association for Rejecting Anti-Israel BDS Resolution

ZOA Condemns United Methodist Church Pension Fund Divestment from Israeli Banks and Companies

Morton A. Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) released the following statement:

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) praises the American Historical Association (AHA) for overwhelmingly defeating an anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) resolution , during AHA’s annual meeting in Atlanta this month.  The vote was a resounding 111 to 50.   The ZOA is pleased to note that this is the second time that the AHA rejected an anti-Israel resolution.  BDS, as openly admitted by its founders, aims for Israel’s delegitimization and eventual destruction, while ignoring the human rights abuses committed by myriad other nations like China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Syria.

Unfortunately, a major American religious group did not follow the AHA’s ethical and moral example.  ZOA condemns the United Methodist Church (UMC) pension fund for divesting from five Israeli banks and an Israeli real estate and construction company last week.   Reprehensibly, the UMC attempted to justify its immoral, discriminatory, anti-Semitic divestment decision by falsely and absurdly accusing Israel of being among “high risk” regions such as Saudi Arabia and North Korea with “a prolonged and systematic pattern of human rights abuses.”   In fact, Israel has one of most exemplary human rights records in the world, with equal protection for women, LGBT, Christians, Arabs and all minorities.  Arabs enjoy more human rights in Israel than in any Arab nation in the Middle East. 

Historians could not possibly support a resolution based on false, distorted or ahistorical assertions.

American Historical Association members correctly explained that the anti-Israel resolution had nothing to do with the great aims of the AHA, and should never have even been considered.  The same is true when radical Muslim groups demand that college student governments should spend time on and pass anti-Israel resolutions.  Anti-Israel BDS resolutions have nothing to do with the aim and work of student governments, and should not even be considered.  

AHA members also questioned why Israel was being singled out, and called the resolution an “intellectual fiction.”   Professor Richard Golden noted that the resolution did not address Arab Palestinians’ “own role in their problems,” and that “If Canada was sending missiles over the U.S. border, students at the University of Toronto might have issues entering the United States.” 

University of Maryland Distinguished Professor Jeffrey Herf wisely wrote that the anti-Israel resolution was also rejected because:  “the standards of evaluation of the American Historical Association are those of professional historians, not those of diplomats in the UN General Assembly, partisan NGOs claiming to defend human rights and other academic organizations which the radical left had managed to control. . . . . Historians could not possibly support a resolution based on false, distorted or ahistorical assertions.” 

Professor Herf also wrote that if anti-Israel resolutions were adopted, this “could inaugurate an era of renewed discrimination against Jews who did not share these denunciations of Israel.”

In addition, Professor Herf commendably took it upon himself to obtain and post a response from the Israeli Embassy to the false allegations in the anti-Israel BDS resolution.  In response to the resolutions’ ridiculous  allegations that Israel violated the rights of Palestinian Arab faculty and students to “pursue their education and research freely,” restricted “freedom of movement, including denial of entry of foreign nationals,” and engaged in “physical attacks on Palestinian educational institutions,” the Israeli Embassy explained that:

“Israel does not as a matter of routine policy restrict the movement of faculty, staff and visitors in the West Bank.  To the extent to which movements are restricted or Israeli military forces enter Palestinian universities (as in Tul-karm), it is because “Palestinian universities periodically serve as sites of violence and incitement.” “There are no restrictions on foreign academics teaching in the West Bank.” They are “free to enter, unless there are exceptional security concerns.” Israel does not routinely refuse to allow students from Gaza to travel to pursue education abroad and at West Bank universities but permission may be restricted if members of Hamas seek to continue their activities in the West Bank. In the war of 2014, Israel bombed the Islamic University [in Gaza] not because it was a university but because it was used by the terrorist organization Hamas to manufacture and fire rockets at Israeli civilians.”

Arab Palestinian sources also confirm that the anti-Israel resolution’s accusations that Israel denies academic freedoms to Palestinian Arab universities were an outright lie.  The most recent (2013-2014) annual report of Birzeit University, which describes itself as “the foremost Palestinian University,” located in Ramallah, “Palestine,” confirms that Arab Palestinian university faculty and students enjoy extensive travel and foreign exchange opportunities – despite the fact that Birzeit is a hotbed of vicious anti-Israel extremism.  

Birzeit University’s annual report reveals that Birzeit students and/or faculty participated in a physic program in Geneva, Switzerland; an engineering conference in Beirut, Lebanon; a research conference in Qatar; an Arab Innovation Conference in Jordan; an integrity forum in Tunisia; an electric power engineering doctoral program in Birmingham-UK; Avemplace III exchange programs with Palestinian Jordanian, Syrian and European universities; a political science workshop with U.S. university faculty in Jordan; the Lancet Palestinian Health Alliance held in the United Kingdom; a media development summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; the IEEE technology contest in Washington, D.C.; a legal competition in Cairo, Egypt; a moot court competitions among 6 Arab Palestinian teams in Jericho; the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C.; a commercial arbitration competition in Vienna, Austria; an education study visit at Leicester University, UK; meetings to discuss academic cooperation at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore; a Euro-Mediterranean University International Summer School at Manouba University in Carthage, Tunisia; lectures at the Chinese University of Hong Kong; and a 5-day workshop in Sharm el-Sheikh, Sinai with Cairo University.

In addition, Birzeit received academic and academic-related visits from the Technical University of Berlin; Ecole Polytechnique, France; Poland; the University of Dublin, Ireland; the Institute of Education at the University of London, UK; physics researchers from various scientific centers and universities in Europe, sponsored by the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Italy; Palestinian Arab-American businessmen from the U.S.; a British engineer-architect; the Faculty of Law in Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia; the Japanese Agency for International Cooperation; the Confucius Institute, China; the Chinese ambassador to “Palestine”; a physics professor from University of Helsinki, Finland; the Mexican Ambassador to the PA; an Oman journalist association delegation; the University of Graz, Austria; the French cultural attaché; Grand Challenges Canada; the Luxembourg Minister of Foreign Affairs; a Serbian delegation; Bulgaria’s representative to the PA; and eighty international students studying at Birzeit University.

Birzeit also has partnerships and academic cooperation programs with University of Naples; the French Institute for Near East Studies; Graz University of Technology in Austria; Jordan University’s Science and Technology Faculty in Nursing; a Mediterranean sea basin program funded by the European Union including academic institutions from Greece, Spain, Italy, Lebanon, Tunisia and “Palestine”; an IT project funded by the European Union involving 4 universities in Tunisia and “Palestine”; an EU-funded project called “MOSAIC” involving cooperation between Mediterranean and European countries; a media training program in the “West Bank,” Gaza and Nazareth; a sports management program in partnership with the International football (soccer) association FIFA and International Center for Sport Studies (CIES); a heritage guide project with University of Trento, Italy; an empowering future entrepreneurs project with a Dutch organization Spark; two associations for a LEGO robotics competition; the YWCA Federation; the Swedish International Development Agency (which provides funding for a joint project with the Birzeit Media Development Center); a water forum with representatives with Dutch water and energy sectors, and a water development and management partnership with Dutch universities.

Palestinian Birzeit University Has No Jews Allowed Policy Along With Other Anti-Israel Activity

All these academic interchanges are truly remarkable, considering the fact that Birzeit is a center of vicious anti-Israel activity and anti-Semitic discrimination.   The terrorist group Hamas won the recent Birzeit University student council elections in April 2015. 

Throughout the past 20 years, Birzeit has maintained a “no Jews allowed” policy – and even expelled anti-Zionist Haaretz journalist Amira Haas when she attempted to attend a conference at Birzeit in September 2014, because Haas is Jewish.

Birzeit’s annual report contains vicious anti-Israel accusations, including accusing Israel of being a “racist state,” “continuous war crimes,” genocidal acts, and having a “violent rape culture.”  The annual report also outrageously falsely claims that a Bar-Ilan University professor called for raping Palestinian women, and that “a rabbi calls for mass murder of Palestinians while taking foreskins as trophies.”   The Birzeit annual report then posts an “urgent call” to boycott all Israeli academic institutions, “resist” all forms of “normalization” especially including cultural normalization, denounce Zionist scholars, condemn Zionist academic institutions, expose Zionist scholars as committing “most immoral practices against the Palestinian people” and counter “colonialism.”  (p. 40)

Birzeit’s annual report also reveals that Birzeit received delegations from the “Boycott of Israeli Products Campaign” (p. 21), published and/or touted books about “the suffocating reality of occupation,” (p. 48) and “Palestinian Popular Resistance Under Occupation” (p. 50); lectured on “Settler Colonialism in North America and Palestine” (p. 37); and held a “cultural” program about “Palestinian displacement,” (p 63).