Ann Laura Stoler: Supporting Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel

IDF soldiers and Israeli settlers

Israeli settlers and IDF soldiers. Image via Wikipedia

Thanks to PULSE for circulating this statement from Ann Stoler:

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

2 thoughts on “Ann Laura Stoler: Supporting Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel

  1. Clive

    Well I am back, did time for failure to pay fines and now I am out again – feels good! A smoke and a wine and a computer terminal blah, blah. blah.

    I feel sorry for the likes of Ann Stoler because she shows that she cannot grasp the very simple realities of living today.

    Nevertheless, the first problem is that she quotes Hannah Arendt – well that was totally unnecessary because she could have just said that “I think a democracy is where people should have rights” – albeit begs the question – what are rights or what rights was she referring to, but typically, she fails to deliver on that front. Never mind! Thanks Ann!

    Point is Ann, even when you live in a democracy your “human rights” are often trampled all over in myriad ways. It could be something as simple as not being able to know what you are eating, what is in the air you are breathing, life prospects, illness management and cure, the technology you have access to, the media you use, need I go on. You should listen to AtheneWins on Youtube for some directions on human rights.

    While I can somewhat grudgingly accept some of what Fortes peddles, though I don’t believe most of it and don’t think he really does – but there is an aesthetic to it I like, I do agree with him that anthropologists have somewhat become “dumbed down” – like MacAnthros – with all cheese and no meat.

    While I am on Fortes – “Zeroanthropology” – give me a break. Precisely how do you propose to practice zero anthropology?

    Anyway to my purpose in posting:

    I mean look at the crap coming from Lattas and Morris in regards to the intervention in Australia. Look I know Sutton, Merlin and Pearson and company have got the wrong end of the stick. Sure the Pedophilia has been blown all out of proportion; sure it is a ruse to trample on human rights; sure the non-Aboriginal Australians are again “controlling” Aboriginal Australians – and yes it is dead set wrong and I believe that and I want it to stop and I am doing everything in my power to stop it.

    However, it won’t stop because no-one, I mean NO-ONE, knows what else to do! Seriously, indigenous/nation state cultural politics constitutes one of the most difficult dilemmas there is. Others are war, poverty, land, and so on.

    There is no ulterior racist motive – thats a Norwegian/European inspired myth aimed squarely at the “new world” – A Kapferer Cringe;

    critical anthropology is fine but it ain’t nothing if it has nothing to critique. Europeans critiquing others is what they do best

    1. Maximilian Forte

      I cannot speak for Stoler, nor can I speak for Fortes (who is long dead). I can speak for myself however, even if your rant drifts across several posts, at least you avoided the obsessive spam of others in concentrating all of your remarks in one place.

      To be clear, I certainly do believe in and stand by everything I write. I also cannot recall having said at any time that anthropologists have become “dumbed down.” You might not like what I “peddle,” but at least you could be clearer about what I actually say. How do I propose to practice Zero Anthropology? What a funny question to ask, in one of the locations where it is being practiced and where you are involving yourself in its practice.

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