Prominent academic organization shows its true colors as it endorses a ceasefire in Gaza

AAUP has consistently opposed efforts to combat extreme anti-Zionist rhetoric.

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP), an academic professional organization, endorsed a labor union coalition’s call for a ceasefire in Gaza on Wednesday, according to Inside Higher Ed.

“We express our solidarity with all workers and our common desire for peace in Palestine and Israel, and we call on President Joe Biden and Congress to push for an immediate ceasefire and end to the siege in Gaza,” says the statement AAUP endorsed. “We cannot bomb our way to peace. We also condemn any hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, or anyone else.”

Despite pressing for a ceasefire in Israel’s war with Hamas — a measure which pro-Israel activists have criticized for its potential to forestall eradicating Hamas from the Palestinian territory — the statement also called for the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza. It also urged that “water, fuel, and food” be transported to Gaza without restrictions.

“Both Hamas and Israel must adhere to standards of international law and Geneva Convention rules of warfare concerning the welfare and security of civilians,” it continued. “The cycle of violence must stop so that negotiations for an enduring peace proceed.”

Founded in 1915 by John Dewey and Arthur Oncken Lovejoy, the American Association of University Professors comprises over 370,000 members from higher education institutions across the US. Once regarded as a bulwark against attempts to politicize higher education, it has in recent years been disparaged — by nonprofits such as the National Association of Scholars (NAS), for example — for allegedly becoming a shamelessly partisan advocacy group for the far-left.

Following Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, two-and-a-half weeks passed before the AAUP commented on the ensuing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and when it did, the group said nothing about the terrorist group’s atrocities, instead discussing the importance of academic freedom. At the time, dozens of professors were denounced for cheering Hamas’ violence and encouraging extreme anti-Zionist demonstrations in which masses of students and faculty called for the elimination of the Jewish state “from the river to the sea,” which is widely considered genocidal.

On Wednesday, Middle East experts told The Algemeiner that AAUP’s endorsing a ceasefire further accentuates the group’s political biases.

“The AAUP has once again shown its true bias colors by signing onto a call by multiple American labor unions for a ‘ceasefire in Israel and Palestine,’ Asaf Romirowsky, who serves as executive director of both Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA), said in a statement.

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He continued, “The AAUP thinks Hamas can become an organization that behaves accordingly with international and humanitarian norms, which is absurd. The evidence of the Nazi-Islamist barbarism of Oct. 7 clearly shows otherwise and highlights the AAUP’s disconnect from the reality of the conflict in the Middle East.”

Miriam Elman, executive director of Academic Engagement Network, an organization that promotes academic freedom, also criticized the AAUP on Tuesday, explaining that it endorsed a false and “unconscionable” equivalence between Israel and Hamas.

“The AAUP is exceeding its mandate and mission by adopting a particular political position on the Israel-Hamas war,” Elman said. “The AAUP could be a leader in condemning and combating the ongoing ostracism, shunning, and boycotting of Israeli scholars and researcher, which has increased markedly since October 7. Instead its leadership is spending its time lending the AAUP’s name to a poorly worded, politicized statement.”

AAUP has commented on politically contentious matters before. In 2020, after the killing of George Floyd sparked protests across the US, the group said “it affirmed that Black lives matter and that the association is committed to addressing systemic racism in higher education and working toward racial justice.”

However, it has consistently opposed efforts to combat extreme anti-Zionist rhetoric.

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In March 2022, AAUP issued a statement which denounced the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, used by hundreds of entities to identify antisemitic conduct and speech, alleging that it “privileges the political interests of the state of Israel and suppresses discussion and activism on behalf of Palestinian rights.” In the same communication, the AAUP criticized the state of Florida for adopting the IHRA definition in legislation regarding public K-12 schools and colleges, describing the law and others like as “legislative attacks…presented in the guise of protecting students from discrimination.”