The Alliance for Academic Freedom is deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s apparent intention in the near future to unilaterally annex substantial portions of the West Bank, possibly including both existing settlements and the Jordan Valley. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s winning of a new term and his post-election pronouncements about annexation point to a substantial territorial and political change that we expect will be disastrous for a democratic Israel and the Palestinian people and will have adverse consequences for the climate in academia in the United States.  

If implemented, unilateral annexation will exact a terrible price. It will make the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state virtually impossible; that, in turn, would place a two-state solution out of reach for the near future and perhaps permanently. Unless Palestinians on the West Bank are granted full citizenship and equal rights in Israel proper – a highly improbable assumption – annexation will turn Israel into a state that maintains permanent control over millions of Palestinians within its territory while denying them civil and political rights. This will create an untenable situation for Palestinians as well as an indefensible position for a liberal democracy. The collapse of the Palestinian Authority and the growth of paramilitary groups on the West Bank, combined with greater Israeli governing responsibilities, might soon become a reality, heightening the chances of warfare and bloodshed. 

Under these circumstances, the AAF’s core mission – defending academic freedom as it relates to the Palestinian-Israel conflict amid a context of support for a two-state solution – would become increasingly difficult. As anger grows against a 53-year occupation whose end would be ever harder to envisage, we will likely see increased demands to boycott Israeli colleges and universities, and possibly other violations of academic freedom, such as disruptions of pro-Israel speakers. More generally, we can anticipate the derailing of collaborative solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

For all these reasons, the AAF joins with many groups, including those in Israel and the Palestinian territories, to raise our voice in alarm at the possibility of annexation. We call on the Israeli government to pull back from a precipitous decision.

Executive Committee: Susana Cavallo, David Greenberg, Rebecca Lesses, Jeffry Mallow, Sharon Musher, Cary Nelson (Chair), Kenneth Stern