With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Quotes: What Historians Are Saying About the Controversy at the AHA About Israel

On Sunday January 4 the AHA Business Meeting declined, by secret ballot, to consider two resolutions critical of Israel. The controversy inspired a lot of media commentary featuring quotes from historians.

Van Gosse (Franklin & Marshall)

“The goal is to send a message to Israeli academics that they should mobilize to stop these violations.”   source

David Greenberg (Rutgers)

“We don’t want to whip up a mob of ferocious scholars on either side. Why should the A.H.A. become a venue for political fights about Israel? Scholarship about Israel, of course should be something the AHA cares about, but that’s not what this is about.” source

Melanie Newton (University of Toronto)

“I’d like a chance to see what it is. I do not believe it is the place of [the association] to shut down debate, especially if it doesn’t happen that often.” source

Jeffrey Herf (University of Maryland)

"To ask historians at a Business Meeting to reach conclusions about assertions of fact regarding events that supposedly occurred during the Gaza War and travel rights of scholars in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank was absurd. This was the case because it was asking historians to act on the basis political opinions rather than as a result of careful examination of evidence." source

Sandi Cooper (City University of New York)

“The people originating the request for a discussion had not prepared properly in terms of meeting association regulations. I fear for the future of US academia if we are essentially prohibited, in ways a bit less subtle than McCarthy’s overt terrorism in the ‘50s – from discussing tendentious issues.” source

Hasia Diner (NYU)

“There is a subtext that Israel is more guilty because it’s Israel. I think the agenda is a political one, and they don’t really care about scholarship.” source

Claire Potter (New School)

“I would have voted no had the resolutions come to the floor. Aside from the vigorous assertions that the general charges were true, no facts were presented, no documentation.” source

Daniel Pipes (Middle East Forum)

“[I am] particularly delighted to discern signs of political maturity among the ranks of historians the AHA’s nearly 3-to-1 rejection of the two anti-Israel resolutions confirms the surprisingly sensible and centrist voting on this issue at major academic associations.” source