From Israel to Arizona, boycott racism!

The following press release was issued by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) on 27 June 2010:

The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) endorses and supports the call for Boycott of Arizona on account of its manifestly racist laws, HB1070 and SB 2281.

SB1070 calls for police officers to require documentation from people to establish resident status. The law essentially requires police to engage in racial profiling and discrimination on the basis of appearance. SB 2281 outlaws the teaching of ethnic studies in Arizona schools. It builds a pretext for the censorship of books and suppression of historical texts which are perceived by the state as political literature.

USACBI calls attention to the similar plight of Palestinians in occupied Palestine. Analogous to Arizona’s policies, Palestinian narratives are suppressed by the state of Israel, including a new piece of legislation outlawing the commemoration of al-Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948. Israel also requires identification papers of Palestinians in order to engage in routine and essential daily tasks. These ID cards, which not all Palestinians are granted, forces many Palestinians from the diaspora to be foreigners in their own land and often denies them entry into their own country or results in expulsion from it.

Palestinians, like many Mexicans and Mexican Americans, are forced to resist borders that were imposed on them by foreign powers. In this context we also call attention to stark similarities between Israel’s Apartheid Wall and the US Apartheid Wall. Israel’s Apartheid Wall confiscates Palestinian water and land for the sole benefit of illegal Israeli settlements, and strangles the lives and livelihoods of Palestinians.

The two walls have much in common — not only because both are built on land that was occupied by conquest, that displace indigenous people, and that separate families, but also because these walls are built by the same colonial forces. The Israeli firm, Elbit Systems, played a leading role in the construction of both walls. Naomi Klein warned that the US Apartheid Wall (which the US, like Israel, calls a “fence”) will have similar consequences to the one on Palestinian land:

“In April 2007, special immigration agents with the US Department of Homeland Security, working along the Mexican border, went through an intensive eight-day training course put on by the Golan Group. The Golan Group was founded by ex-Israeli Special Forces officers and boasts more than 3,500 employees in seven countries. ‘Essentially we put an Israeli security spin on our procedures,’ Thomas Pearson, the company’s head of operations, explained of the training course, which covered everything from hand-to-hand combat to target practice to ‘getting proactive with their SUV.’ The Golan Group, now based in Florida but still marketing its Israeli advantage, also produces X-ray machines, metal detectors, and rifles. In addition to many governments and celebrities, its clients include ExxonMobil, Shell, Texaco, Levi’s, Sony, Citigroup and Pizza Hut” (The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007, p 438).

The US wall will further segregate border communities, break families apart and increase the number of deaths on the border as migrant workers are pushed deeper into the desert.

Both walls protect imperial interests, not those of indigenous people whose rights are violated by these states and their structures. Like Israeli settlers, militia organizations like the Minute Men have found legitimacy for attacking economic refugees crossing the border. These armed, racist groups find their counterparts in groups of Israeli settlers shooting at Palestinian farmers attempting to access their own land, visit families, or travel between home and work.

USACBI expresses its solidarity with organizations that strive for equality and justice of oppressed indigenous peoples, particularly the move to boycott Arizona until it reverses these racist laws. We call on others to join us in the boycott of Arizona and to build divestment campaigns targeting companies like Elbit that profit from the oppression of indigenous people on stolen land whether in the US or Palestine.