AAR Statement on the Crisis in Israel and Palestine

Approved by the AAR Board of Directors October 24, 2023

The American Academy of Religion’s mission is to foster excellence in the academic study of religion and enhance the public understanding of religion. We are committed to promoting academic excellence, professional responsibility, free inquiry, critical examination, diversity, inclusion, respect, and transparency within the academic study of religion and in our own work.

The Board of Directors of the AAR recognizes that no public statement will adequately express our empathy and solidarity with those who are heartbroken and outraged. We condemn the killing of Israeli civilians and the taking of Israeli hostages by Hamas. We condemn the lethal violence against Palestinian civilians and the decades-long occupation and denial of human rights to Palestinians by Israel’s government. We recognize the error of equating people with their governments. As a scholarly organization that values the critique of constellations of power, the AAR rejects all forms of colonialism, dispossession, occupation, hegemony, and violence.

The crisis in Israel and Palestine—like the wars and genocidal violence in Somalia, Sudan, Ukraine, Yemen, Nigeria, Burma, and many other places—reminds us that even amidst unimaginable loss, we must not dehumanize others, that we must allow for grief and mourning while insisting on human rights and vigorously defending the dignity of all people. In moments like these, we uphold the importance of scholarly inquiry. We call for freedom of information and caution against the dangers of too-easily spread dis-information. We strive to promote free inquiry and critical examination for all scholars and to create space for listening to those who have historically been ignored, exploited, and silenced. Specifically, we are in solidarity with scholars and students who face retaliation for speaking out against government-inflicted terror and oppression. At this time of grave crisis, the AAR Board wishes to assure all its members that we reaffirm our values that aim, above all, to foster inclusivity, openness, and mutual respect.