Open Letter to NATFHE from Palestinian Academics Under Israeli Occupation

The Federation of Unions of Palestinian University Professors and Employees and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) salute the British academics who have proposed a motion to boycott Israel, to be tabled at the upcoming NATFHE (National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education) Council in Blackpool. At this time of escalating colonial repression, coupled with a particularly inhumane and illegal siege, Palestinians will be eagerly following the deliberations of the Council when it convenes on May 27, and are heartened by the growing movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions. 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 centers and institutions of global power, is incapable of delivering justice to the Palestinian people. The only hope today rests with initiatives from international activists for justice in Palestine to put pressure on Israel to end its oppression of the Palestinian people. Israeli academic institutions are implicated in the various forms of oppression exercised against the 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 the Palestinians, whether in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), inside Israel, or in exile. Collaboration and cooperation 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 criticized 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 United States 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 racist ruling of the Israeli High Court upholding a ban on the reunification of Palestinian citizens of Israel with their spouses from the OPT and therefore infringing, on ethnic grounds, upon the basic human right to choose one’s partner.

The Palestinian call for boycott of Israeli academic institutions [1] 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 (BDS), [2] it 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 must use all the means of civil resistance available to bring an end to oppression. Palestinians are appealing to academics, professionals, artists and other activists in the world to work towards bringing an end to a regime that practices colonial oppression, discrimination against its Palestinian citizens, and which denies the rights of Palestinians to return to their homeland.

We hope that NATFHE members will join the growing international movement by showing that no business as usual can be conducted with the Israeli academy until it takes a clear and unequivocal stand against the forms of oppression practiced by the Israeli state. This is what conscientious British academics did more than twenty years ago during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa; this is what we hope they will do to help resist Israel’s own 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 recognize that since justice for Palestinians cannot be expected from the international centers of world power, they must organize to further the cause of justice and genuine peace.


Related Links

  • Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
  • BY TOPIC: Academic and Cultural Boycott