US academics: join us in boycott call

Mission statement

Responding to the CALL of Palestinian civil society to join the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, we are a US 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 nonviolent 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.”

PACBI and the entire BDS movement (representing the overwhelming majority among Palestinian civil society parties, unions, networks and organizations) view three fundamental Palestinian rights, sanctioned by international law and universal human rights principles, that ought to be respected by Israel to end the boycott. All we endorse and struggle to achieve is 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.

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 US universities, as well as US 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.

Urgent appeal

Furthermore, we are also responding to the Open Letter to International Academic Institutions from the Right to Education campaign at Birzeit University in Palestine (17 January 2009):

In light of the ongoing massive Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in which more than 1,200 people have been killed — more than 1,000 (86 percent) of whom were civilian men, women and children — and where more than 4,000 have been maimed and injured, the Right to Education Campaign at Birzeit University calls upon 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 until it abides by international human rights and humanitarian laws, dismantles its apartheid regime spanning both the occupied territories and Israel proper, and commits to pursuing a long-lasting, just peace.

The war on Gaza marks a breaking point: the world cannot remain silent while Israel instigates a war (they broke the ceasefire by killing six Palestinians on 4 November 2008 and four more on 17 November 2008), annihilates all civilian infrastructure, targets civilian shelters, prevents medical teams from reaching victims, uses internationally banned substances like white phosphorous on civilians, prevents medical aid and equipment from entering the Strip, cuts off fuel, electricity and running water making daily life, especially for the injured, a living hell, and prevents anyone from escaping their carnage. These are not actions of a state which respects international laws and norms. Distinguished international lawyers have denounced the disproportionality of Israel’s attacks as a war crime, and its indiscriminate killing as a crime against humanity.

Enough is enough.”

Gaza is but the latest incident in a series of ongoing Israeli massacres, from Deir Yassin (1948) to Kafr Kassim (1956) to Jenin (2002) to the wars on Lebanon (from 1980s to 2006). All demonstrate a pattern of violence by a state that will not end its violations of international law and war crimes on its own, without international pressure. We must act now. As academics working in the US, 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.


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 applying the following:

1. Refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions;

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 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.

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 nonviolent call for academic boycott, disinvestment, and sanctions.

Please email us with your full name and institutional affiliation if you fully endorse the Mission Statement of US ACBI Campaign and authorize us to use your name publicly: uscom4acbi A T gmail D O T com.

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