The following press release was issued on 25 February 2009:
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) applauds Canadian Union of Public Employees-Ontario’s University Workers Coordinating Committee (OUWCC) for its principled support for the cause of justice in Palestine by adopting, at its annual conference on 22 February 2009, significant steps in the direction of applying effective pressure on Israel and holding it accountable for its colonial and apartheid policies which violate international law and fundamental human rights.
In particular, PACBI applauds the OUWCC for passing a number of resolutions aimed specifically at challenging and ending business-as-usual with the Israeli academy. The conference has decided to “[e]ncourage its member locals to hold public forums to discuss an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions;” to “[a]sk campus representatives to work with locals to investigate both research and investment links between Ontario Universities and the state of Israel’s military;” to “[m]obilize campus allies to pressure universities from engaging in acts of cooperation that assist and aid military research at the institutional level with Israeli universities;” to “[w]ork with campus and community allies to pressure Ontario universities to refuse collaborations, corporate partnerships and investments that would benefit, either directly or indirectly, military research or the Israeli state military;” and to “[r]equest funding and support from CUPE Ontario to conduct an education campaign on the academic boycott, coordinate education sessions and assist in the implementation of resolution 50 as passed in 2006.”
These resolutions, taken together, amount to a resolute decision to challenge the notion that Israeli universities and academic institutions can be “normal” partners of any self-respecting Canadian institution. Indeed, it has to be recognized by academics the world over that Israeli universities are part and parcel of the structures of domination and oppression of the Palestinian people. They have played a direct and indirect role in promoting, justifying, developing or supporting the state’s racist policies and persistent violations of human rights and international law. It is significant that not only have they not condemned the state’s colonial policies and practices and the longstanding siege of Palestinian education, they have facilitated and enabled the collaboration of their faculty members and researchers with the Israeli military-security establishment, in flagrant violation of the principles of the independence of universities and academics. Israeli universities and research institutes have been complicit in the crimes of the state since its founding; in fact, they have served the Israeli state’s determined effort to whitewash its crimes and portray itself as an important center of global learning and scholarship.
The sincere solidarity with Palestine shown by Canadian academic trade unionists is particularly timely in light of the recent Israeli war of aggression against the people of Gaza. During this lethal assault during which many war crimes were committed, 1,440 Palestinians were murdered (of whom more than 400 were children), 5,380 were injured, and scores of institutions — including a university and several schools — and neighborhoods were partially or completely destroyed. The impunity of Israel must be challenged. Academic and cultural boycotts are effective measures available to world civil society to indicate its intolerance of oppression and as a means to bear pressure upon Israel to cease its campaign of ethnic cleansing and colonial control over the Palestinian people. The PACBI call for boycott in 2004 of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, like the Palestinian civil society’s widely endorsed call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) in 2005, is based on the same moral principle embodied in the international civil society campaign against the apartheid regime in South Africa: that people of conscience must take a stand against oppression and use all the means of civil resistance available to bring it to an end.