Showing posts with label USACBI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USACBI. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Israel to Adorn Wall with Art for PR

Israel's Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein has decided that the international media attention on the apartheid wall, from a public relations standpoint, has been a burden on Israel and it is time for the Israeli government to deal with this problem.  

So what does he suggest to deal with this issue in order to help Israel's public diplomacy efforts? Not to dismantle the wall and actually end Israel's occupation and apartheid policies toward Palestinians. No, what Israel needs to do is "paint pictures on the wall displaying information on terrorist attacks that originated in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas and on attacks that were prevented due to the existence of the barrier." The ministry will be working with Israeli artists and schoolchildren to make this happen. 

This is just the latest example of Israeli propaganda efforts and highlights the use of art to whitewash Israel's crimes. Check out how you can get involved with cultural boycott efforts through our member group the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Palestinian Academics Condemn Cornell University's Collaboration with Technion

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (PACBI) of Israel has issued a statement condemning Cornell University's collaboration with Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. Cornell and Technion are building a multi-billion dollar science and technology campus together on Roosevelt Island in New York. Technion, like other Israeli academic institutions, is complicit in Israel's continuing occupation and violations of Palestinian human rights and international law. Joining US Campaign member groups US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) and Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), PACBI is urging residents of New York, US civil society, and people of conscience to mobilize against the Cornell-Technion partnership. Sign and share Cornell SJP's petition opposing Cornell's shameful collaboration with Technion and check out USACBI's resources page on the Cornell-Technion partnership! 


PACBI | March 4, 2012
An Appeal for Action: End Cornell University Collaboration with Technion

The Palestinian academic community was deeply disturbed by the recently revealed plan of collaboration between Cornell University and Technion - Israel Institute of Technology.  The two institutions have won a multi-billion-dollar competition held by the City of New York to establish “a 2 million square foot engineering and applied sciences university campus” on Roosevelt Island, NY [1].  Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Cornell University have petitioned the City of New York and Cornell University to end this collaboration with an Israeli institution that is "directly implicated in war crimes [2]."  Similarly, the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) has launched an appeal calling on students and faculty to put pressure on their university to withdraw from this troubling partnership [3].
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) would like to join these groups in deploring the collaboration between US higher institutions of learning and Israeli Academic institutions complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and the rights of Palestinians.  In view of our focus this year on academic boycott, we call on US civil society to bring the injustices of this venture to light.  In the first instance, all New York City residents should, rightfully, be outraged that their tax dollars are being apportioned in the service of such an endeavor, and we appeal to them to pressure the City of New York administration to end this collaboration.  Moreover, we ask students, staff, and faculty at institutions around the country, including student groups such as SJP, as well as workers, labor unions, and other civil society organizations in New York City, to mobilize against the administration of Cornell University to end its partnership with Technion.  More importantly, we call on people of conscience to mobilize on the issue of the Cornell-Technion partnership, and academic boycott more broadly, through street protests, educational venues, media presence and other such mobilizations.
Technion Complicity
Technion's record of complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights is too long to reproduce here, but here are some highlights:
-    It has a partnership with Elbit Systems, which is one of Israel’s largest private weapons manufacturers.  Elbit manufactured the drones that Israel used in its crimes against civilians in Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2008-09. This partnership has played a leading role not only in the construction and surveillance of the apartheid wall in Palestine, but also along the U.S.-Mexico border through its subsidiary, Kollsman.

-    Technion trains its engineering students to work with companies dealing “directly in the development of complex weapons in the process of researching their academic theses” [4].  In one example with Elbit Systems, the reward has been the funding of research grants in upwards of half a million dollars to Technion’s students conducting research [5].

-    One of the institute’s most notorious projects resulted in the development of a remote-control function on the Caterpillar’s 'D9’ bulldozer “used by the Israeli army to demolish Palestinian houses and farms and the development of a method for detecting underground tunnels, specifically developed in order to assist the Israeli army in its continued siege on the Gaza Strip” [6]

-    Technion has deep relations with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, one of Israel’s largest government-sponsored weapons manufacturers famous for its “advanced hybrid armor protection system” used in Israel’s Merkava tanks [7]. The institute has developed an “MBA program tailored specifically for Rafael managers” which further solidifies its relationship between academia and Israel’s military-industrial complex [8].

-    Technion rewards its students who perform their compulsory military service.  It also granted Israeli army reservists who participated in the Israeli massacre of Gaza in 2008-2009 “academic benefits in addition to the usual benefits for reservists” [9].
Why Academic Boycott?
In 2004, Palestinian civil society called for an academic boycott in the spirit of the South African anti-apartheid movement.  In our statement, we have maintained that a boycott of Israeli academic institutions is necessary due to the complicity of these institutions in the system of oppression that has denied Palestinians their basic rights guaranteed by international law.


In our 2004 call we stated that the academic boycott
is in line with the authoritative call by the Palestinian Council for Higher Education (CHE) for "non-cooperation in the scientific and technical fields between Palestinian and Israeli universities." Academic institutions in particular are part of the ideological and institutional scaffolding of the Zionist settler-colonial project in Palestine, and as such are deeply implicated in maintaining the structures of domination and oppression over the Palestinian people. Since its founding, the Israeli academy has cast its lot with the hegemonic political-military establishment in Israel, and notwithstanding the efforts of a handful of principled academics, is deeply implicated in supporting and perpetuating the status quo. [10]
While it is common to think of universities as ivory towers separate from society, this view ignores the deep roots of the academy in society, and in shaping our knowledge of the world.  Universities influence political power, shape future generations, and structure the moral and ideological underpinnings of our societies.  In the case of Israel, the academy gives the state a veneer of being liberal, tolerant, and just.  This is an image that serves to combat and whitewash the state’s ongoing occupation, colonialism and apartheid.
Why Israeli Institutions?
In response to a call for academic boycott of Israel, one might respond that US academic institutions collaborate with other academic institutions around the world, as well as with their own government that is involved in human rights abuses, war and occupation.  This argument is often used as a red herring to distract activists, and as an attempt to delegitimize the movement.  However, it is critical for us to recognize this as a legitimate concern when it comes from truly conscientious activists and observers, and from people who are invested in advancing ethical forms of resistance against all kinds of oppression.
The above argument can be broken into three parts.  First, we must recognize the voice of Palestinians who suffer under Israel’s intricate multi-tiered system of oppression.  In this sense, an important element is the call by an overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society for an international boycott of Israel that is embodied in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  In the 70s and 80s, no ethically minded person would have screamed that the anti-apartheid movement was hypocritical for asking for the boycott of South Africa and not, say, Israel, the U.S. or the Soviet Union.  Thus, it rings hollow and suspicious when people question Palestinians and international solidarity activists for applying the boycott to Israel but not other places.  The BDS movement is explicit in its solidarity with oppressed people around the world fighting against all forms of oppression.  It similarly calls on others to stand with Palestinians in their time of resistance.
Second, we are keenly aware that US academic institutions partner with other foreign academic institutions.  To the extent that these foreign institutions are complicit in their governments’ abuses of international law and human rights, in ways similar to the complicity of Israeli academic institutions, then we also condemn such partnerships.  We doubt, however, that there are, as of yet, any joint ventures within US borders between Saudi Arabian academic institutions, for example, and a US institution.  It is no coincidence that Israeli institutions enjoy greater access to US academic networks, including the funding that these networks enable.  This is what makes the tactic of boycott crucial, effective, and urgent when applied to Israel.  We also stress again that Israel’s atrocious violations of international law remain violations even if there are other countries that commit the same.
This leads to our third argument, where it should not be denied that academic institutions in the US collaborate with their own government, arguably the world's leading and most violent violator of human rights, if we take Iraq and Afghanistan as case studies.  We believe these partnerships should end, and a campaign against Cornell-Technion should strive to raise awareness on US academic complicity, inviting various sectors of local communities to share their experiences and build mutual solidarities.  However, this should not prevent a serious and legitimate call to boycott collaborations with Israeli institutions.  The herculean task of disengaging US academia from the US military industrial complex should not deter or demobilize activists from a call to boycott Israel and its complicit institutions.  Did any morally conscientious person call on US academia to boycott its government before boycotting the apartheid South African regime?  Could American university administrations, morally speaking, argue against the boycott of apartheid South Africa, simply because their own institutions were developing technology for the US government?  We hardly think so.  We cannot defer the rights of people around the world as we wait for the US superpower to clean its house.  However, we must also not hold back from our collective struggles against the abuses of the US government.
In this way, we, at PACBI, along with our coalition partners in Palestinian civil society wish to express our solidarity with oppressed segments of US civil society, and ask that you hear our call and put pressure on your academic institutions and city councils to boycott apartheid Israel.  This is what we ask for in our struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

Notes:
[1] http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/new-york-host-israels-top-drone-lab
[2] http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/in-opposition-to-cornell-universitys/
[3] http://www.usacbi.org/2011/12/open-letter-to-cornell-university-dont-collaborate-with-apartheid/
[4] Uri Yacobi Keller, The Economy of the Occupation: A Socioeconomic Bulletin. (Jerusalem: Alternative Information Center, 2009), 10. http://usacbi.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/economy_of_the_occupation_23-24.pdf.
[5] ibid, 10-11
[6] ibid, 9
[7] “Structures of Oppression: Why McGill and Concordia Universities Must Sever their Links with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology,” 4. http://www.tadamon.ca/wp-content/uploads/Technion-English.pdf
[8] Ibid., 3-4
[9] Keller, 12-13 (see link above)
[10] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1108

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Two US Delegations Endorse BDS and Call for Action in the US

The Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel has been endorsed by two US delegations recently returned from fact finding missions to occupied Palestine and Israel.

US Campaign member group US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) organized a delegation of five distinguished scholars for a trip to Palestine and Israel in January. The delegation, composed of professors working at US universities, witnessed firsthand how Israel routinely denies the academic freedom of Palestinian scholars and students. According to a press release issued by USACBI, the delegation noted:

… Israel has consistently closed Palestinian universities under security pretexts and restrictions on freedom of movement mean that it is often very difficult for students to attend universities; international and Palestinian scholars living abroad are denied visas for faculty appointments in the occupied territories.  Furthermore, some 80 students from Birzeit University are held in Israeli prisons and detention centers, 10 of whom are currently being held without charge or trial. The delegation also reported that Israel thwarts Palestinian research capacities by restricting imports of equipment necessary for teaching basic science and engineering. It is all but impossible for Gaza students to attend West Bank universities, or for scholars from Ramallah, Gaza City, and East Jerusalem to meet in the same room.

While the primary focus of the trip was on educational discrimination, the delegation also had the opportunity to visit the 5,000 person Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem, as well as hear testimony from Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah who were forcibly evicted from their homes in East Jerusalem by the Israeli military. After witnessing how the "subordination, humiliation, and suspicion" of the occupation regulates the daily lives of Palestinians, as well as numerous violations of Palestinian civil and legal rights, the delegates urged their academic colleagues to support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. In a brief statement included in USACBI's press release, the delegates stated:

We believe that the perpetuation of the international travesty of colonial occupation in a post-colonial world must be brought to an end.  For it ultimately threatens the rights, dignity and security of everyone who believes in self-determination, equal justice and human rights.
Read USACBI's full press release here. 

LGBTIQ Activists Call for an End to US Aid to Israel and Endorse BDS

A diverse group of academics, artists, and cultural workers from the LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, interest, and queer) community also traveled to Palestine/Israel in January. Upon their return to the US, the delegation released an open letter and petition emphatically endorsing BDS and calling on the queer community and its allies to "stand in solidarity with queer and other Palestinians and progressive Israelis who are working to end the occupation; oppose the state of Israel's practice of pinkwashing; and support efforts on the part of Palestinians to achieve full self-determination including building an international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement."

In their open letter, the delegates strongly reject Israel's practice of pinkwashing -- using the issue of gay rights to deflect attention away from the daily violations of Palestinian human rights:

Key to Israel's pinkwashing campaign is the manipulative and false labeling of Israeli culture as gay-friendly and Palestinian culture as homophobic. It is our view that comparisons of this sort are both inaccurate - homophobia and transphobia are to be found throughout Palestinian and Israeli society - and that this is beside the point: Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine cannot be somehow justified or excused by its purportedly tolerant treatment of some sectors of its own population. We stand in solidarity with Palestinian queer organizations like Al Qaws and Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (PQBDS) whose work continues to impact queer Palestinians and all Palestinians.

… We urge LGBTIQ individuals and communities to resist replicating the practice of pinkwashing that insists on elevating the sexual freedom of Palestinian people over their economic, environmental, social, and psychological freedom. Like the Palestinian activists we met, we view heterosexism and sexism as colonial projects and, therefore, see both as interrelated and interconnected regimes that must end.

As queer activists in the US, they condemn US complicity in maintaining the occupation and call for an end to US aid to Israel and support for the BDS movement in the US:

We name the complicity of the United States in this human rights catastrophe and call on our government to end its participation in an unjust regime that places it and us on the wrong side of peace and justice.

We support efforts on the part of Palestinians to achieve full self-determination, such as building an international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement which calls for the fulfillment of three fundamental demands:

The end of the Occupation and the dismantling of the Wall
  (jidar).
The right of return for displaced Palestinians.
The recognition and restoration of the equal rights of citizenship for Israeli     citizens of Palestinian descent.

We call upon all of our academic and activist colleagues in the US and elsewhere to join us by supporting all Palestinian efforts that center these three demands and by working to end US financial support, at $8.2 million daily, for the Israeli state and its occupation.
Read the open letter in full and sign the petition here 


 Testimonials from the Delegates Published on The Feminist Wire


Darnell L. Moore, who traveled to Palestine as part of the LGBTIQ delegation and is an editorial collective member of The Feminist Wire (TFW), solicited reflections and commentaries from US-based scholars, activists and cultural workers about their experiences in Palestine. Those writings have been collected and published online at TFW Forum on Palestine. Several participants from the USACBI and LGBTIQ delegations contributed moving and thoughtful pieces to the forum, including powerful commentaries from Neferti X.M. Tadiar and Jasbir K. Puar. Tadiar calls upon us to "forge new relations beyond the province of interests and inherited forms of social belonging to which we might have become tethered and, for those of us not already called, to feel the suffering and aspirations of Palestinians as also our own," in  "Why the Question of Palestine is a Feminist Concern." Puar's piece, "The Golden Handcuffs of Gay Rights: How Pinkwashing Distorts Both LGBTIQ and Anti-Occupation Activism," offers insightful analysis of Israel's pinkwashing agenda, homonationalism and the radical impact of Palestinian Queers for BDS (PQBDS) on Palestinian society. She argues that by "foregrounding the Occupation as its primary site of struggle, PQBDS is slowly, strategically and carefully insisting upon and creating systemic and thorough changes in the terms of Palestinian society itself. "










Friday, September 30, 2011

QUARTET FIDDLES WHILE PALESTINE BURNS - BOYCOTT THE JERUSALEM STRING QUARTET!

US Campaign member group USACBI has issued a call to action this week as the Jerusalem String Quartet prepares for its North American Tour this October.

Join a local protest or organize your local action - contact us at: usacbi@usacbi.org!
The Jerusalem String Quartet is embarking on a North American tour from October 2-16, 2011 (visiting Vancouver, BC; Costa Mesa, CA; Tucson, AZ; Logan, UT; Downers Grove, a Chicago suburb, IL; Houston, TX; Toronto, ON; West Lafayette, IN; and Louisville, KY). The Quartet, a premier Israeli musical institution and a project of the Jerusalem Music Centre, has been protested by Palestine solidarity and Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) activists around the world during its tours over the years.
The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel is calling for boycotts and protests of the Jerusalem String Quartet at all of its performance locations during its North American tour, in accordance with the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and the call for the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
Learn more about what makes the Quartet boycottable, the tourm and organized protests here!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tell Interpol Not to Entertain Israeli Apartheid!

American post-punk band Interpol plans to perform in Israel later this month. Join the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) -- a US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation member group -- in calling on Interpol to not entertain Israeli Apartheid!

Below is a sample email appeal, followed by sample tweets...

Email addresses: contact info@interpolnyc.com, nils@matadorrecords.com, frazer@murraychalmers.com
Sample Subject Line: Interpol - Stand up for human rights!

Dear members and management of Interpol,

During the past month, tent cities have sprung up all over the State of Israel. Israeli citizens are protesting against their government's unfair policies: tax benefits to the rich, lack of public housing, underinvestment in infrastructure, privatization of social services and more.

However, although there may seem to be a revolutionary uprising in the Israeli public, modeled after the Arab Spring revolutions, one subject is taboo in the tents. Under the call for “unification” in Israeli society, social justice ends with Palestinians. The Palestinian people are denied some of the most elementary freedoms: the freedom of movement, the freedom to access their stolen agricultural land and the freedom to protest without facing life threatening violence: When they demonstrate against the Israeli government, they face brutal treatment. Their relatives in the Gaza strip are by no means luckier, living under constant siege. In the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, kids are abducted from their houses, in violation of international law, and taken to violent police interrogations.

Israeli propaganda will gladly announce that you are coming to perform in "the only Democracy in the Middle East", but your Palestinian fans in the Occupied Territories will not even be allowed to come to Tel Aviv and enjoy your performance. Furthermore, the Pic.Nic festival is produced by Shuki Weiss, who has a special relationship with the Israeli establishment. Mr. Weiss attended Knesset meetings which have led to draconian anti-democratic legislation to outlaw boycotts, and he sends Israeli politicians VIP tickets to concerts which he produces. This is not just corruption within the system, but corruption that serves to whitewash Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people, using international artists such as you.

You have an opportunity to stand with the oppressed. Please don’t play in apartheid Israel, until it complies with international law and ends the occupation over the occupied territories, recognizes full equality for its Palestinian citizens and respects and protects the Palestinian refugee’s right of return to their homes and properties.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Tweet your BDS message and post it to their Facebook page here.
Use the sample tweets below or write your own. Click "Tweet Now!" for automatic tweeting.

Ethnic Cleansing is the real "Evil" @Interpol, Take a stand for rights & join us in #BDS until #Israel complies with Int'l Law
Tweet Now!

"Turn on the bright lights" & see #Israel apartheid @Interpol Stand up for Palestinian rights #BDS
Tweet Now!

@Interpol the real "Barricade" is the illegal #Israel Wall which steals #Palestine land for settlements Time to join #BDS
Tweet Now!

@Interpol should be arresting #Israel War Criminals, not entertaining apartheid #BDS
Tweet Now!

@Interpol, #Israel "Wrecking Ball" demolishes Palestinian homes daily dont help them conceal crimes with your performance #BDS
Tweet Now!

Click here to see the full action alert.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

USACBI Alert: Will you tell Renée Fleming to cancel her trip to Israel?


The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) is a coalition member of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

USACBI Alerts, July 23, 2011

We are asking BDS supporters to get the word out and tell Renée Fleming, an American soprano, to cancel her July 27th performance in Israel! See the letter from BRICUP urging her to respect Palestinian rights and not cross the international picket line: http://www.bricup.org.uk/#185 or read the letter to Renée from Israeli activists: http://bit.ly/ReneeFleming

Tweet your BDS message or post it on Facebook.
Use the sample tweets below or write your own. Click “tweet now!” below the samples for automatic tweeting.

Even your voice cant drown out the bulldozers demolishing Palestinian homes & dreams Stand up for humanrights @reneesmusings #BDS
tweet now!

Ethnic Cleansing is a crime Dont cross our picket line! Support the Palestinian call for equal rights @reneesmusings #BDS
tweet now!

Colonization of #Palestine land is illegal dont entertain violations of humanity and law @reneesmusings #BDShttp://bit.ly/ReneeBDS
tweet now!

@reneesmusings dont let your beautiful voice be used to whitewash #Israel war crimes Stand up against oppression #BDS
tweet now!

Sample email:

To email Renée Fleming, contact atreuhaft@imgartists.com, press@reneefleming.com
Subject Line: Renée Fleming - don’t cross the international picket line!

Dear Renée Fleming,

We would like to inform you of a few important details.

The venue which has been selected for your concert in Jerusalem, Binyanei Hauma, is owned by the Jewish Agency and the Jerusalem municipality (http://www.jpost.com/LandedPages/PrintArticle.aspx?id=211329).

The Jewish Agency has been a key player in Israel’s violent colonization project throughout the occupied West Bank (http://www.jafi.org.il/JewishAgency/English/Aliyah/Absorpton+Options/Bayit1/Regional+Councils/bayitemekjordan.htm).

The Jerusalem Municipality is a racist authority which demolishes Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, and severely discriminates against Jerusalem’s Palestinian population (http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/12/19/separate-and-unequal-0).

A performance by prominent international artists like you serves to whitewash the Jewish Agency and the Jerusalem Municipality’s complicity in severe violations of human rights and international law, and legitimize its wrongful conduct.

Moreover, Palestinian fans of classical music living under Israeli military occupation will not be allowed to come to any venue in Jerusalem and enjoy your performance!

Palestinian civil society has called for a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s policies of apartheid, racism and occupation.

In view of these details, should you, as a conscientious artist, perform at Binyanei Hauma, and in Jerusalem, under such circumstances?

Sincerely,
________________

SEE ORIGINAL POST...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Justice for Palestine: A Call to Action from Indigenous and Women of Color Feminists

Barbara Ransby is a member of the US Campaign's Advisory Board and one of the signatories of this letter.
Barbara Ransby

Between June 14 and June 23, 2011, a delegation of 11 scholars, activists, and artists visited occupied Palestine. As indigenous and women of color feminists involved in multiple social justice struggles, we sought to affirm our association with the growing international movement for a free Palestine. We wanted to see for ourselves the conditions under which Palestinian people live and struggle against what we can now confidently name as the Israeli project of apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Each and every one of us—including those members of our delegation who grew up in the Jim Crow South, in apartheid South Africa, and on Indian reservations in the U.S.—was shocked by what we saw. In this statement we describe some of our experiences and issue an urgent call to others who share our commitment to racial justice, equality, and freedom.

During our short stay in Palestine, we met with academics, students, youth, leaders of civic organizations, elected officials, trade unionists, political leaders, artists, and civil society activists, as well as residents of refugee camps and villages that have been recently attacked by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Everyone we encountered—in Nablus, Awarta, Balata, Jerusalem, Hebron, Dheisheh, Bethlehem, Birzeit, Ramallah, Um el-Fahem, and Haifa—asked us to tell the truth about life under occupation and about their unwavering commitment to a free Palestine. We were deeply impressed by people’s insistence on the linkages between the movement for a free Palestine and struggles for justice throughout the world; as Martin Luther King, Jr. insisted throughout his life, “Justice is indivisible. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Traveling by bus throughout the country, we saw vast numbers of Israeli settlements ominously perched in the hills, bearing witness to the systematic confiscation of Palestinian land in flagrant violation of international law and United Nations resolutions. We met with refugees across the country whose families had been evicted from their homes by Zionist forces, their land confiscated, their villages and olive groves razed. As a consequence of this ongoing displacement, Palestinians comprise the largest refugee population in the world (over five million), the majority living within 100 kilometers of their natal homes, villages, and farmlands. In defiance of United Nations Resolution 194, Israel has an active policy of opposing the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral homes and lands on the grounds that they are not entitled to exercise the Israeli Law of Return, which is reserved for Jews.


LETTER CONTINUES...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Boycott Debate: No Longer Taboo in Progressive Pro-Israel Circles

Here's a detailed analysis of current boycott discourse from more than one angle. It discusses one of our member groups, Jewish Voice for Peace, whose director, Rebecca Vilkomerson, recently spoke on a panel devoted to the boycott-divestment-sanctions (BDS) movement, at the annual conference of J-Street, which generally opposes BDS.


Dov Waxman and Mairav Zonszein
March 29, 2011

TO BOYCOTT or not to boycott? That is the question that growing numbers of American Jews on the left wing of the pro-Israel community have reluctantly and uneasily begun to ask themselves in recent months. After initially categorically rejecting the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (or BDS, as it has become known)—a movement launched in 2005 by a coalition of Palestinian civil society groups that's now a global campaign—progressive pro-Israel groups and individuals are now starting to reconsider and revise their position. They are not—at least not yet—embracing BDS, but they are for the first time giving it serious consideration and debating it merits.

The clearest sign yet of this new willingness to discuss what was previously off-limits occurred during a recent conference organized by J Street, the self-described "pro-Israel, pro-peace" lobby group. Holding its second annual conference in the cavernous Washington Convention Center (also the site of the yearly conference of AIPAC, J Street's much larger and richer rival), J Street included a panel session entitled "Who is Afraid of the BDS?" Among the speakers was Rebecca Vilkomerson, the director of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), an organization that advocates the boycott of companies that profit from the Israeli occupation and has been labeled by the Anti-Defamation League as one of the top ten anti-Israel groups in the United States. Her inclusion was noteworthy in itself, but what made the panel even more remarkable was the fact that it was conducted in a calm, reasonable manner, free of diatribes and invectives. In other words, it was completely different from the way in which discussions of BDS usually take place in the American-Jewish community. Instead of assailing the legitimacy of BDS in principle, the discussion focused on the efficacy of BDS—can it help promote an end to the Israeli occupation and a two-state solution? The large audience that packed the room (people were even queuing outside to get in) listened calmly and intently and asked the panel earnest questions.

To hold a rational and civil debate on a topic that until now has been hugely inflammatory for American Jews and Israelis is quite an achievement for J Street. Even more commendable is the fact that it took place despite fierce criticism of J Street for including JVP—an organization that is shunned and vilified by the mainstream American-Jewish community— in its program. Contrary to the accusations of its critics, by allowing BDS to be debated at its conference, J Street did not embrace these controversial tactics (it continues to oppose BDS). Rather, J Street has asserted that BDS is a subject that cannot and should not be ignored by the American-Jewish community. By upholding the values of freedom of speech and inclusive dialogue, J Street is insisting that grappling with the pros and cons of BDS does not in itself delegitimize Israel or deem one to be an anti-Zionist. As such, J Street is helping to break the BDS taboo in the American-Jewish community in general and among progressive pro-Israel activists in particular.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Israeli Knesset adopts law criminalizing boycott, targeting Palestinian citizens

Who Is Annexing Whom?

By Uri Avnery
March 27, 2011

In a rare late-night session, the Knesset has finally adopted two obnoxious racist laws. Both are clearly directed against Israel’s Arab citizens, a fifth of the population.

The first makes it possible to annul the citizenship of persons found guilty of offences against the security of the state. Israel prides itself on having a great variety of such laws. Annulling citizenship on such grounds is contrary to international law and conventions.

The second is more sophisticated. It allows communities of less than 400 families to appoint "admission committees" which can prevent unsuitable persons from living there. Very shrewdly, it specifically forbids the rejection of candidates because of race, religion etc. - but that paragraph is tantamount to a wink. An Arab applicant will simply be rejected because of his many children or lack of military service.

...

But far worse is a third law that is certain to pass its final stages within a few weeks: the law to outlaw the boycott of the settlements.

...

As it stands now, the law will punish any person or association publicly calling for a boycott of Israel - economic, academic or cultural. "Israel", according to this law, means any Israeli enterprise or person, in Israel or in any territory controlled by Israel. Simply put: it is all about the settlements. And not only about the boycott of the products of the settlements, which was initiated by Gush Shalom some 13 years ago, but also about the recent refusal of actors to perform in the settlement of Ariel and the call by academics not to support the so-called University Center there. It also applies, of course, to any call for the boycott of an Israeli university or an Israeli commercial enterprise.

This is a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation: it is anti-democratic, discriminatory, annexationist, and altogether unconstitutional.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Monday, December 28, 2009

U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has more than 500 endorsers!

A press release from US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation member group USACBI: December 27, 2009 marks the one-year anniversary of the beginning of “Operation Cast Lead,” Israel’s 22-day assault on the captive population of Gaza, which killed 1400 people, one third of them children, and injured more than 5300. During this war on an impoverished, mostly refugee population, Israel targeted civilians, using internationally-proscribed white phosphorous bombs, deprived them of power, water and other essentials, and sought to destroy the infrastructure of Palestinian civil society, including hospitals, administrative buildings and UN facilities. It targeted with peculiar consistency educational institutions of all kinds: the Islamic University of Gaza, the Ministry of Education, the American International School, at least ten UNRWA schools, one of which was sheltering internally displaced Palestinian civilians with nowhere to flee, and tens of other schools and educational facilities. While world leaders have tragically failed to come to Gaza’s help, civilians everywhere are rallying to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people, with anniversary vigils taking place this week in New York, Washington DC, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, and many more cities and towns in the US and world-wide. The United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was formed in the immediate aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, bringing together educators of conscience who were unable to stand by and watch in silence Israel’s indiscriminate assault on the Gaza Strip and its educational institutions. Today, over 500 US-based academics, authors, artists, musicians, poets, and other arts professionals have endorsed our call. Our academic endorsers include postcolonial critics and transnational feminists Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Indigenous scholars J. Kēhaulani Kauanui and Andrea Smith, philosopher Judith Butler , Black studies scholars Cedric Robinson, Fred Moten, evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers, and intellectual historian Joseph Massad. “Cultural workers” who have endorsed our call include well known author Barbara Ehrenreich, Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunimah, poets Adrienne Rich and Lisa Suhair Majjaj, ISM co-founder and documentary film-maker Adam Shapiro, Jordan Flaherty of Left Turn Magazine, and Adrienne Maree Brown, of the Ruckus Society. Among the 34 organizations supporting our mission are and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the Green Party, Code Pink, INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, Artists Against Apartheid, and Teachers Against the Occupation. The Advisory Board of the United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) has grown to include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Hamid Dabashi, Lawrence Davidson, Bill Fletcher Jr., Glen Ford, Mark Gonzales, Marilyn Hacker, Edward Herman, Annemarie Jacir, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Robin Kelley, Ilan Pappe, James Petras, Vijay Prashad, Andrenne Rich, Michel Shehadeh, and Lisa Taraki. Israeli academics, listed among the organization’s International Endorsers, have also joined us, including Emmanuel Farjoun, Hebrew University; Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv University; Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University; Kobi Snitz, Technion; and Ilan Pappe now at Exeter. The USACBI Mission Statement calls for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions in support of an appeal by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Individual Israelis are not targeted by the boycott. Specifically, supporters are asked to: (1) Refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions that do not vocally oppose Israeli state policies against Palestine; (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) Work toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations; (5) Support Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support. This boycott, modeled upon the global BDS movement that put an end to South African apartheid, is to continue 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. Internet Addresses: United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) Homepage and Mission Statement: http://usacbi.org Endorsers: http://usacbi.wordpress.com/endorsers/ Advisory Board Members: http://usacbi.wordpress.com/advisory-board/ Face Book: http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?id=542646326&gv=12#/group.php?gid=62141897558 --------- BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions): Bridging the gap between speaking out against apartheid, and actually taking steps to end it. www.usacbi.org