WASHINGTON — For the second year in a row, an anti-Israel measure was voted down at the American Historical Association’s annual conference, a gathering of the oldest and largest organization of historians in America, which took place in Atlanta, Georgia this weekend.
On Saturday, a resolution that accused Israel of limiting Palestinian academic freedom and called on the AHA to “monitor Israeli actions” was rejected by a vote of 111 to 50, confirmed AHA executive director James Grossman.
The resolution, which had 126 signatories, was brought by Historians Against the War, a group that has publicly endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel and often advocates for its agenda.
Last year, HAW proposed a similar resolution but failed to submit it by the November 1 deadline. The AHA allowed a vote to suspend the regular rules and bring the resolution up for a discussion, but HAW failed to amass the needed two-thirds majority to do so, losing 144 to 51.
This year, HAW filed the petition properly, enabling its consideration at the business meeting Saturday. After 45 minutes of debate, which included a five-minute introduction from two AHA members — one in favor of the resolution and one opposed — the resolution was overwhelmingly defeated.
According to Jeffrey Herf, a history professor at the University of Maryland, College Park and an AHA member, his colleagues were “not convinced of the truth of the resolution and didn’t think it was appropriate for the organization.
“They understood that this was part of a political campaign and an attempt to use the American Historical Association for political purposes, and they rejected that,” he told The Times of Israel. “The members of the AHA have very high standards. They were not going to vote for a resolution like this that was making factual assertions that they couldn’t verify themselves.”
Herf, one of the leaders of the opposition to the resolution, had previously argued that its political nature was outside the purview of the AHA and that it would be inappropriate for historians to make a series of allegations outside their field of expertise.
No members of Historians Against the War responded to requests for comment.