PALESTINIAN CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACADEMIC & CULTURAL BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL: Boycott Israel, disinvest over Israeli colonial repression

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was launched in Ramallah in April 2004 by a group of Palestinian academics and intellectuals to join the growing international boycott movement. The Campaign built on the Palestinian call for a comprehensive economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel issued in August 2002 and a statement made by Palestinian academics and intellectuals in the occupied territories and in the Diaspora calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions in October 2003 (see: http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=868 ).

Edited version of an open letter issued by the Federation of Unions of Palestinian University Professors and Employees and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (2006): “At this time of escalating colonial repression, coupled with a particularly inhumane and illegal siege, Palestinians will be eagerly following Natfhe's national conference when it convenes on May 27. They are heartened by the growing movement for a boycott, divestment and sanctions.

“ The Federation of Unions of Palestinian University Professors and Employees and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel salute the British academics who have proposed a motion to boycott Israel, to be tabled at the conference in Blackpool. We believe that this is a courageous initiative. It comes at a time when it is becoming increasingly clear that the international community, as represented by the centres and institutions of global power, is incapable of delivering justice to the Palestinian people. The only hope rests with initiatives from international activists for justice in Palestine to put pressure on Israel to end its oppression of Palestinians.

Israeli academic institutions are implicated in the various forms of oppression exercised against Palestinians. Israeli research institutes, think-tanks and academic departments have historically granted legitimacy to the work of academics who advocate ethnic cleansing, apartheid, denial of refugee rights and other discriminatory policies against Palestinians, whether in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, inside Israel or in exile.

Collaboration and co-operation with the intelligence services, the Army and other agencies of the occupation regime is part of the routine work of the Israeli academy.

Furthermore, no Israeli academic body or institution has ever taken a public stand against the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, nor have academic institutions or representative bodies of Israeli academics criticised their Government's longstanding siege of Palestinian academic institutions. Indeed, the current regime of economic sanctions and other collective punishments imposed upon an entire society by the Government of Israel, with grave complicity from the US and the European Union, have gone without notice in the business-as-usual world of the Israeli academy. Nor has the academy raised its voice against racism within Israel, as exemplified by the recent ruling of the Israeli High Court upholding a ban on the reunification of Palestinian citizens of Israel with their spouses in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and therefore infringing, on ethnic grounds, on the basic human right to choose one's partner.

The Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions is endorsed by the most important federations and associations of academics and professionals and is supported by dozens of civil society institutions in Palestine. Like the Palestinian civil society's widely endorsed call for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions, it is based on the same moral principle embodied in the international campaign against apartheid in South Africa: that people of conscience must take a stand and use civil resistance to bring an end to oppression. Palestinians are appealing to academics, professionals, artists and other activists to work towards bringing an end to a regime that practises colonial oppression and discrimination against its Palestinian citizens and that denies the rights of Palestinians to return to their homeland.

We hope that Natfhe members will join the growing international movement by showing that business cannot be conducted with the Israeli academy until it takes an unequivocal stand against the forms of oppression practised by the Israeli state. This is what conscientious British academics did more than 20 years ago during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa; this is what we hope they will do to help resist Israel's version of apartheid.

Until it effectively ends its complicity, the Israeli academy - as a major institutional upholder of the prevailing order - cannot expect exemption from the boycott. Boycott and divestment are the only non-violent forms of action available to people of conscience the world over. We salute those who recognise that, since justice for Palestinians cannot be expected from the international centres of world power, they must organise to further the cause of justice and genuine peace.” [1].

[1]. Edited version of an open letter issued by the Federation of Unions of Palestinian University Professors and Employees and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, “A Nobel laureate and Palestinian academics on Natfhe's proposed boycott of Israel”, Times Higher Education, 26 May 2006: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=203404&sectioncode=26 .  

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