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Dec-18-2013 13:06printcomments

Leading Native American Group Joins Academic Boycott of Israel

The council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) declares its support for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Palestinian students in the West Bank (file photo).
Palestinian students in the West Bank (file photo).

(SALEM) - Years of conflict have greatly impacted the ability of Palestinians to receive an education. This critical issue has now prompted one of America's leading Native American group's to join the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, says the decision came after much discussion. In fact they wrote their own declaration of support, rather than simply adding their name to the existing declaration.

Chadwick Allen, 2013-2014 NAISA President, says an NAISA member initially brought the petition to the attention of NAISA Council. "After extensive deliberation on the merits of the petition, the NAISA Council decided by unanimous vote to encourage members of NAISA and all who support its mission to honor the boycott."

It is no secret that many Native Americans find a distinct parallel between their own history and that of the Palestinians, who have lived under Israeli occupation since the late 1940's.

In Palestine, students who attempt to reach Lebanon to file scholarship paperwork have been shot and killed.

  • 19 Year old Palestinian student Muatazz Idreis Sharawnah was struck down on the first of July this year when he was shot by an Israeli military vehicle in the Dura city in the southern West Bank district of Hebron. Locals say the Israeli military blocked the access of Palestinian Red Crescent Association paramedics when they attempted to reach Sharawnah to offer emergency care and evacuate him to hospital1.
  • It was reported on 07 February 2011, that Christian Peacemaker Team volunteers were escorting Palestinian children to school in At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills, to protect them from stone throwing Israeli settlers2.
  • In an al Jazeera article from 30 May 2011, Joseph Massad, a professor of intellectual history at Columbia University, wrote, "The number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli soldiers in the first intifada (1987-1993) was 213, not counting the hundreds of induced miscarriages from tear gas grenades thrown inside closed areas targeting pregnant women, and aside from the number of the injured. The Swedish branch of Save the Children estimated that "23,600 to 29,900 children required medical treatment for their beating injuries in the first two years of the intifada", one third of whom were children under the age of ten years old. In the same period, Palestinian attacks resulted in the death of five Israeli children3.
  • According to UNICEF, "More than 2,500 children in the West Bank cross through one or more checkpoints daily to reach their schools, with girls mostly dropping out when they need to travel to schools outside their communities. Exposure to the November 2012 escalation of conflict in Gaza has had a devastating impact on the psychosocial wellbeing of children and adolescents." 4

Regarding NAISA's decision to join the Boycott, Inside Higher Ed touched on the critical aspect of Israeli involvement, discussing how, "Academic boycotts have been deeply controversial: opponents argue that boycotts in general represent a violation of academic freedom, while they say that boycotts against Israel in particular are discriminatory in singling out one nation for criticism." 5

In their declaration, NAISA clearly confirms their understanding that everyone is not on the same page when it comes to Israel and Palestine, and explains they are committed to the robust intellectual and ethical engagement of difficult and often highly charged issues of land, identity, and belonging. "Our members will have varying opinions on the issue of the boycott, and we encourage generous dialogue that affirms respectful disagreement as a vital scholarly principle. We reject shaming or personal attacks as counter to humane understanding and the greater goals of justice, peace, and decolonization."

Edward Said, the world-renowned scholar, writer and critic, wrote after visiting Jerusalem and the West Bank, that Israel's violence strengthened Palestinian determination. "Palestine and Palestinians remain, despite Israel's concerted efforts from the beginning either to get rid of them or to circumscribe them so much as to make them ineffective," Said wrote in the English-language Al-Ahram Weekly, published in Cairo6.

NAISA's President Chadwick Allen, explains that the NAISA Council's Declaration of Support for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions is an expression of the group's dedication to free academic inquiry about, with, and by Indigenous communities.

The declaration states:

"The NAISA Council protests the infringement of the academic freedom of Indigenous Palestinian academics and intellectuals in the Occupied Territories and Israel who are denied fundamental freedoms of movement, expression, and assembly, which we uphold...

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Tim King specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide. His years as a Human
Rights reporter have taken on many dimensions. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in
2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine. Tim is the news editor
for and holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from traditional
mainstream news agencies like The Associated Press and Electronic Media Association; he also holds awards
from the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs; and The Red Cross
More articles by Tim King


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