Sunday, April 24, 2005
Academic Boycott of Israeli Universities takes off!
In years of efforts to make Israel conform to international law by just asking, a small group of persons developed an organised plan of boycotts, beginning with an academic boycott. This is the first effort of its kind (it was successful in beating South African Apartheid, so it's imperative to try in Israel).
From Omar Barghouti, one of the organisers:
Here's the link to the best news in a decade - it's official the 46000-strong teacher union in the UK has voted to boycott Haifa University and Bar-Ilan University: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/4472169.stm
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)Info@BoycottIsrael.ps
P.O.Box 1701, Ramallah, Palestine
22 April 2005 Putting the Israel Boycott on the Agenda
The Association of University Teachers (AUT) in the UK voted in its Council meeting today to boycott Haifa and Bar-Ilan Universities and to disseminate to all its chapters our Call for Boycott of Israeli academic institutions. This historic decision, which sets a landmark precedent, stands as a major achievement in the struggle to attain a just peace in our region. Finally, boycotting Israeli institutions, as a morally and politically sound response to Israel's crimes, is on the mainstream agenda in the west; and no one can ignore it now.
For years, Israeli academics have by and large served in the occupation army, thereby participating in, or at least witnessing, crimes committed on a daily basis against the civilian population of Palestine. They have hardly ever publicly denounced Israel's occupation, its system of racial discrimination against its own Palestinian citizens, or its adamant denial of the internationally-sanctioned rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties. This constitutes collusion. After this ground-breaking AUT decision, all these aspects of Palestinian suffering and the complicity of Israel's academics in perpetuating them have now become part of the ongoing debate on Israel's record of oppression and abuse of human rights. The AUT today gave voice to the hitherto voiceless civil resistance against Israel's racist and colonial policies. For this, the AUT should be commended.
Aside from passing the boycott motions, the debate itself about Israel's oppression and the collusion of Israeli academic institutions in it and the extensive media coverage that ensued have played a significant role in educating many around the world about the Palestinian struggle for freedom, self-determination and equality.
The taboo has been shattered, at last. From now on, it will be acceptable to compare Israel's apartheid system to its South African predecessor. As a consequence, proposing practical measures to punish Israeli institutions for their role in the racist and colonial policies of their state will no longer be considered beyond the pale. Israeli academic institutions will no longer be able to share in the crime while enjoying international cooperation and support. Most importantly, Israel will start losing its so far assured impunity, its exceptional status as a state above the law, a country that considers itself unaccountable before the international community of nations.
We applaud the AUT for its vision and its moral commitment to a just peace in Palestine.
Founding CommitteePalestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)Info@BoycottIsrael.ps
Call for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Whereas Israel's colonial oppression of the Palestinian people, which is based on Zionist ideology, comprises the following:
· Denial of its responsibility for the Nakba -- in particular the waves of ethnic cleansing and dispossession that created the Palestinian refugee problem -- and therefore refusal to accept the inalienable rights of the refugees and displaced stipulated in and protected by international law;
· Military occupation and colonization of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza since 1967, in violation of international law and UN resolutions;
· The entrenched system of racial discrimination and segregation against the Palestinian citizens of Israel, which resembles the defunct apartheid system in South Africa;
Since Israeli academic institutions (mostly state controlled) and the vast majority of Israeli intellectuals and academics have either contributed directly to maintaining, defending or otherwise justifying the above forms of oppression, or have been complicit in them through their silence,
Given that all forms of international intervention have until now failed to force Israel to comply with international law or to end its repression of the Palestinians, which has manifested itself in many forms, including siege, indiscriminate killing, wanton destruction and the racist colonial wall,
In view of the fact that people of conscience in the international community of scholars and intellectuals have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice, as exemplified in their struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa through diverse forms of boycott,
Recognizing that the growing international boycott movement against Israel has expressed the need for a Palestinian frame of reference outlining guiding principles,
In the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice and oppression,
We, Palestinian academics and intellectuals, call upon our colleagues in the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel's occupation, colonization and system of apartheid, by applying the following:
1. Refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions;
2. Advocate a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions at the national and international levels, including suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions;
3. Promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions;
4. Exclude from the above actions against Israeli institutions any conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state's colonial and racist policies;
5. Work toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations;
6. Support Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.