The US Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel is a response for the call for boycott coming out of Palestinian civil society.
The Palestinian campaign for academic and cultural boycott of Israel has issued a call, saying, in part:
"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..."
The call for boycott has become more urgent as a result of the brutal slaughter and destruction inflicted on Gaza.
I asked the organizers of the US Campaign whether only academics can join, and was told that while the focus is on scholars and cultural workers, they are accepting endorsements from others as well.
Dissenting view: such an academic boycott will do little to advance the cause of political change it seeks. It will inflame public opinion against its proponents and will foreclose the kind of intellectual exchange needed now. It will also paradoxically bar the very forms of internal Israeli intellectual dissent it should be promoting. Moreover, it sanctimoniously over-emphasizes the historical role of intellectuals in struggles for political freedom.
CALL to JOIN
The U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Responding to the call of Palestinian civil society to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement against Israel, we are a U.S. campaign focused specifically on a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, as delineated by PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel):
"In light of Israel's persistent violations of international law, and Given that, since 1948, hundreds of UN resolutions have condemned Israel's colonial and discriminatory policies as illegal and called for immediate, adequate and effective remedies, and Given that all forms of international intervention and peace-making have until now failed to convince or force Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights and to end its occupation and oppression of the people of Palestine, and In view of the fact that people of conscience in the international community have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice, as exemplified in the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa through diverse forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions;
Inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid and in the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice and oppression, We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.
These non-violent punitive measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194."
[For more information: http://www.pacbi.org/campaign_statement.htm]
PACBI and the entire movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (representing the overwhelming majority among Palestinian civil society parties, unions, networks and organizations) emphasize fundamental Palestinian rights, sanctioned by international law and universal human rights principles that ought to be respected by Israel to end the boycott. We struggle to achieve an end to Israel's three-tiered injustice and oppression: 1) occupation and colonization in the 1967-occupied Palestinian territory; 2) denial of the refugees' rights, paramount among which is their right to return to their homes of origin, as per UN General Assembly Resolution 194; and 3) the system of racial discrimination, or apartheid, to which Palestinian (all non-Jewish) citizens of Israel are subjected to.
The principles guiding the PACBI campaign and the three goals outlined above are also points of unity for the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USCACBI). We believe it is time to take a public, principled stance in support of equality, self-determination, human rights (including the right to education), and true democracy, especially in light of the censorship and silencing of the Palestine question in U.S. universities, as well as U.S. society at large. There can be no academic freedom in Israel/Palestine unless all academics are free and all students are free to pursue their academic desires.
If you are committed to these principles of unity, and wish to work on a campaign of boycotting academic and cultural institutions guided by this approach, please join our campaign. [See information below.]
We are also responding to the Open Letter to International Academic Institutions from the Right to Education campaign at Birzeit University in Palestine (January 17, 2009), calling on the international academic community, unions and students "to show support and solidarity with the people of Gaza by calling upon their respective governments to impose immediate boycott, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel."
Gaza is but the latest incident in a series of ongoing massacres–from Deir Yassin (1948 ) to Kafr Kassim (1956) to Jenin (2002) to the wars on Lebanon (from 1980s to 2006)—which demonstrate a pattern of violence by a state which will not end its violations of international law without international pressure. As academics working in the U.S., we wish to focus on campaigns in our universities and in institutions of higher education to advocate for compliance with the academic and cultural boycott, a movement that is growing internationally across all segments of global civil society.
This call for an academic and cultural boycott parallels the call in the non-academic world for divestment, boycott and sanctions by trade unions, churches, and other civil society organizations in countries such as the United States, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Norway, the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa, and New Zealand.
As educators and scholars of conscience in the United States, we fully support this call. We urge our colleagues, nationally, regionally, and internationally, to stand up against Israel's ongoing scholasticide and to support the non-violent call for academic boycott, disinvestment, and sanctions.
If you wish to endorse this call for an academic and cultural boycott, please email us at: uscom4acbi [at] gmail.com. If you are willing to indicate your support publicly, please send us your name and institutional/organizational affiliation (for identification purposes only).
For more information on actions suggested by the boycott campaign, please join one of the discussion groups linked on the top right-hand corner of this website.
Actions you can take:
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, we call upon our colleagues 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 engaging in the following actions. We aim at the full implementation of all these steps. However, recognizing that different actions may be feasible and appropriate under the many different academic and political circumstances that pertain in US institutions, we urge our colleagues to undertake as many of the following initiatives as possible:
1. Support Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support;
2. Encourage your university and college administrations to institute funding for scholarships and fellowships for Palestinian students;
3. Request your administration/president to issue a public statement censuring Israeli destruction of and interference with Palestinian schools and universities, archives and research centers, both in Gaza and throughout occupied Palestine.
4. Work toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations;
5. Organize teach-ins or similar events with campus and community organizations at which the campaign for the economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel can be fully and openly discussed;
6. Refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions;
7. 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;
8. Promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by academic institutions, and place pressure on your own institution to suspend all ties with Israeli universities, including collaborative projects, study abroad, funding and exchanges.
Jewish Peace News editors:
Sarah Anne Minkin
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
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