Eminent Scholar Ann Stoler Endorses Boycott of Israel

Below is a statement released by Ann Stoler in support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement aimed at Israel:


As someone who has worked for some thirty years as a teacher and student of colonial studies– on comparative colonial situations, colonial histories, and the violent and subtle forms of governance on which colonial regimes rely, it would be difficult not to describe the Israeli state as a colonial one. It would be difficult not to recognize Israel’s past and ongoing illegal seizure of Palestinian land, the racialization of every aspect of daily life, and the large-scale and piecemeal demolition of Palestinian homes, destruction of livelihoods, and efforts to destroy the social and family fabric, as decimation by concerted and concentrated colonial design. These are the well-honed practices of regimes that define colonialisms and have flourished across the imperial globe. As with other colonial regimes, the Israeli state designates and redraws geographic borders, suspends Palestinian civil rights and arbitrarily transgresses what for Israelis are recognized and guarded as private space.

Israel is particular but it is not unique. Its techniques of occupation are based on unfounded uses of the legal apparatus of Israeli law. These are the practices of a colonial state committed to replacing and displacing a Palestinian population, and committed to its own expansion. That expansion is persistent, both surreptitious and blatant everyday: room by room in the old city of Jerusalem, house by house in the spread of settler communities, meter by meter as the placement of the Wall in the name of “security” cuts through homes and fields, and divides neighborhoods while it infringes further into legally recognized Palestinian territories. At issue is both a confiscation of history and a confiscation of the future possibilities of those who today find their bedding thrown on the streets in the middle of the night by Israeli settlers.

If democracy is defined, as Hannah Arendt did, by “the right to have rights” for an entire population within the state’s jurisdiction, the Israeli state cannot be considered a democratic one. Nor can a democracy be founded on the principle of expulsion and the creation of a diasporic population shorn of its land, belongings and citizenship – a principle avidly embraced by Israel since l948. For these reasons, I confirm my support for the BDS international boycott of those Israeli institutions that actively or passively accept a status quo that condones and expands the occupation, violates international law, enforces military control and denies Palestinian rights to self-determination.

Ann Laura Stoler
Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor
Of Anthropology and Historical Studies
The New School for Social Research
New York, New York 10003

10 September 2010

8 thoughts on “Eminent Scholar Ann Stoler Endorses Boycott of Israel”

  1. Most of us are mentally trapped to think Jewish

    Actually, it is safe to say that virtually every mainstream publication or or other type of media organ is “nothing more than a screen to present chosen views.” The great battle over the last century has been a battle for the mind of the Western peoples, i.e., non-Jewish Euros. The chosen won it by acquiring control over essentially the complete mainstream news, information, education and entertainment media of every type, and using that control to infuse and disseminate their message, agenda and worldview, their way of thinking, or rather the way they want us to think. Since at least the 1960s this campaign has been effectively complete. Since then they have shaped and controlled the minds of all but a seeming few of us in varying degree with almost no opposition or competition from any alternative worldview. So now most of us are mentally trapped in the box the chosen have made for us, which we have lived in all our lives. Only a few have managed to avoid it or escape it, or to even sometimes see outside of it, and so actually “think outside of the (Jewish) box.”

    1. Thank you Anna Stoler for responding to the call from Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions of the colonial state of Israel.

      But a word for Michael Santomauro. Your comment is an eerily perfect example of old-school Euro/American antisemitism: international economic and mediatic conspiracy, insidious coercion of the mainstream, unwilling conscription in the Jewish agenda through the use of supernatural mind-control techniques [strange considering that, with a few exceptions, Judaism at large is a non-missionary religious community]. This comment could easily be a plagiarism of a 20’s publication of The Dearborn Independent. We’ve seen it before, and its no surprise to see it circulating again online.

      What I find confusing is your decision publish this pathetically predictable form of antisemitism in response to Anna Stoler’s endorsement of the BDS call. Were you a student of history, even a recreational historical enthusiast, you might be able to recognize your brooding antisemitism as non sequitur to Professor Stoler’s account of Israeli colonialism. For, the object of your antisemitism is a racist category ‘the Jews,’ whereas the object of Professor Stoler’s analysis is the STATE of Israel.

      Your inability to distinguish between the two here is sad evidence of yet another, subtle, and self destructive violence of the State of Israel, or the form Zionist nationalism has taken. Israel has for years represented itself as inextricably linked to the history and destiny of Jews, conceived of as a nation. But this blurring of Israeli identity and Jewish identity must be recognized as a process of mythology, a fiction, and a fiction with a colonial author at that. And, as a result of this fiction, Israel’s crimes have become fodder for Mr. Santomauro’s antisemitism.

      As an international solidarity movement, BDS includes and must continue to include an analysis of Israel as a colonial state. By keeping this in mind, we must be sure call out idiotic antisemitism like the above comment.

  2. Thanks for Professor Stoler’s courageous stand. It is an example of honest and committed scholars who are not afraid of blackmails, nor of taking stands that will bring attacks of all forms inclduing the typical “anti-semitic” cheap shots.

    Your stand is appreciated by Palestinians, and by all people who seek justice and peace, and by those in the academia who are committed to truth, justice, and peace.

    Those who will atack you on taking this stand, while often use all kinds of polemics, are committed to the status quo, injustice, racism and supremacy.

    I wish more people come to the fore and support the boycott campaign of a colonial and racist state that is not only a danger to Palestinians but to the region around us and the world community, by constantly seeking wars, agression, and pushing everyone little by little to a catastrophe.

    The Boycott is the only way availble to put limits on Israeli acts of violence and aggression, and will give notice to its supporters that power of military and arms are not the only language available, and that the more people join this campaign the more the Palestinian people learn that more people around the world are committed to peace and justice.

    Thanks again for your stand

  3. Dear Nate Jones:

    An antisemite condemns people for being Jews, I am not an antisemite.–Michael Santomauro

    Kevin MacDonald: Self-Deception and Guruism among Jews; see LINK on my name:


    Life is really easy if you are in the business of refuting “anti-Semites.” Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal has a predictably vacuous column on the comments of Karel De Gucht. Mr. De Gucht stated, “Do not underestimate the Jewish lobby on Capitol Hill.” Stephens says that the comment dispenses with “the usual fine-grained, face-saving distinction about the difference between a ‘Jewish’ and an ‘Israel’ lobby.”

    What makes it so easy for Stephens is that he doesn’t have to actually provide any data showing the relationship between Jews and the Israel Lobby. It’s enough to simply say that De Gucht failed to make the distinction to brand him an anti-Semite. Of course, it wouldn’t have mattered if he referred to the Israel Lobby when talking about “the grip [the Lobby] has on American politics—no matter whether it’s Republicans or Democrats.” That too would doubtless cast him as an anti-Semite. Titling their book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy certainly didn’t prevent them from being labeled anti-Semites.

    Stephens uses the same tactic in dismissing De Gucht’s statement that “There is indeed a belief—it’s difficult to describe it otherwise—among most Jews that they are right. And it’s not so much whether these are religious Jews or not. Lay Jews also share the same belief that they are right. So it is not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is actually happening in the Middle East.”

    Stephens comments:

    Here, then, was a case not of “criticism of Israel” or “anti-Zionism,” the usual sheets under which this sort of mentality hides. Mr. De Gucht’s target was Jews, the objects of his opprobrium their malign political influence and crippled mental reflexes. If this isn’t anti-Semitism, the term has no meaning.

    Again, Stephens feels no need to actually discuss whether Jews tend to behave this way. The subject is out of bounds–automatically nothing more than “anti-Semitism.”

    Since Mr. De Gucht will not attempt to defend his comments (he has already profusely apologized for his indiscretion—rejected, of course, by Stephens), I’ll give it a try. Part of the issue is self-deception. We are all prone to self-serving biases. But in particular, people who are highly ethnocentric are prone to not seeing how their own ethnocentrism blinds them to rational discussion of anything related to their ethnic interests. One of the more laughable mainstays of neoconservative rhetoric is the assertion that, despite their easily-documented strong Jewish identification and their close ties to Israel, they really believe that their policy recommendations are in the interests of the United States—including the disastrous war in Iraq and the impending war with Iran. Anyone who has taken a course in Social Psychology 101 would be aware of how naive that is.

    “Before Professor Dershowitz (and now you) accused me of being an anti-Semite (news to me), I was a happy person. Since then, I’m still a happy person”. –Michael Santomauro



  4. I’m curious about the end statement: “I confirm my support for the BDS international boycott of those Israeli institutions that actively or passively accept a status quo that condones and expands the occupation, etc…” Does that mean that Prof. Stoler believes that Israeli institutions and/or individuals who actively work in their own society to change this status quo should be exempt from boycott? Or is the mere fact of
    The irony of the academic boycott against Israel is that Israeli academia is constantly under attack by the Israeli government and right for being “anti-Zionist” and “pro-Palestinian”, This puts left wing, politically active Israeli academics between a proverbial rock and hard place and essentially means that the boycott ends up undermining the most vocally pro-peace elements of Israeli society, rather than supporting their efforts.

  5. actually the boycott is not against individuals. Just check the websites of PACBI, USACBI, and the answers to many well intended questions are available.
    Many Israeli scholars have joined the campaign because it is one of the last attempt to stop Israel from committing the worse.

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