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Archive: Boycott, also by Universities / ....We respect the right to education. Does Israel....? 24 march - 27 june 2010

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Open Letter in Support of the Boycott of Arizona

by the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

The U.S. 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.1  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.2

USACBI calls attention to the similar plight of Palestinians in occupied Palestine.3  Analogous to Arizona's policies, Palestinian narratives are suppressed by the state of Israel, including a new piece of legislation outlawing the commemoration of an nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.4  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.5

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 U.S. Apartheid Wall.6  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.7

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.8  Naomi Klein warned that the U.S. Apartheid Wall (which the U.S., like Israel, calls a "fence") will have similar consequences to the one on Palestinian land:

    In April 2007, special immigration agents with the U.S. 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.9

The U.S. 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 Arizona10 and to build divestment campaigns targeting companies like Elbit that profit from the oppression of indigenous people on stolen land whether in the U.S. or Palestine.11


1  Guy Adams, "Arizona Boycotted over 'Nazi' Purge of Migrants."  The Independent.  14 May 2010.

2  Jessica Calefati, "Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies."  Mother Jones. 12 May 2010.

3   "Solidarity Letter from Mexico to the Palestinian People."  Palestine Monitor.  20 April 2008.

4  "BADIL Statement: The Nakba is Not Just an Event to Remember . . . The Nakba Is Ongoing, and the Time Has Come for It to End."  15 May 2010.

5   Campaign for the Right to Enter the Occupied Palestinian Territory: <>.

6  "Death on the U.S.-Mexico Border."  Socialist Worker.  7 March 2009.  Jimmy Johnson, "Palestine-Mexico Border."  Tadamon. 3 May 2010.

7  The Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, "The International Court of Justice (ICJ)."

8  War Resisters' International, "War Profiteer of the Month: Elbit Systems."  17 February 2010.

9  Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.  (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007), 438.

10  Dave Zirin, "Who's Afraid of a Boycott?"  Socialist Worker.  12 May 2010.  Sean Michaels, "Rage Against the Machine Lead Arizona Boycott." Common Dreams.  27 May 2010.

11  Adri Nieuwhof, "Scandanavian Financial Institutions Drop Elbit due to BDS Pressure."  The Electronic Intifada. 19 February 2010.
For more information, visit <>




Why Israeli academia will be boycotted

Education Minister Sa'ar's recent initiatives are a sign of the Israeli government's increasing self-seclusion inside a bunker of delusions, as it distances itself from considerations guided by historical, political and social wisdom. His recent statements befit benighted regimes that have lost connection to the world, like Iran and other totalitarian states.

By Moshe Shoked

In the past two years I have been invited to take part in many conferences hosted by the American Anthropological Association. The topic of discussion at these forums has been the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I agreed to take on a thankless task not as a spokesman for Israel's education ministers or as a mouthpiece of the right or left. I appeared before an academic audience not noted for its sympathetic views on Israeli policy. This group is more inclined to support the Palestinians, albeit with the belief that neither side holds a monopoly on truth and justice.

I tried to place this awful conflict in the context of two truths, with two claims that contradict each other in terms of historical facts and painful memories, between two national movements that have lost all sense of proportion while striving for a settlement that does not provide either side with complete justice.

Alas, I have no plans to accept similar invitations in the future. In the past year, I have lost the conviction that I can truthfully speak for the current Israeli government's suicidal behavior. The recent statements by Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, who vowed to deal with university lecturers and professors who condemn Israel and support a boycott of Israeli universities, reflect the deep abyss the current government has led us down.

I tend to believe that it is only a matter of time before this country's academic institutions are boycotted, regardless of the wishes of the education minister and other champions of Israeli patriotism. They will be boycotted not because of the handful of Israeli professors who have unabashedly supported such a step, but because Israel is under a global microscope that perhaps unfairly discriminates against it compared with other countries that act unjustly, even violently, toward their minorities and neighbors.

For better or worse, Israel does not enjoy the same luxury as countries like Russia and China, which do not rely on the support of Europe and the United States. Indeed, a look through this microscope reveals the foolishness of Israel's weak-kneed leadership.

The education minister's remarks are a sign of the Israeli government's increasing self-seclusion inside a bunker of delusions, as it distances itself from considerations guided by historical, political and social wisdom. His statements befit benighted regimes that have lost connection to the world, like Iran and other totalitarian states. Israeli academia is losing its international standing on its own account. The brightest students, the hopes of a young generation in academia, prefer to stay abroad.

As early as the 1980s, when I researched yordim - Israeli emigrants - in the United States, I concluded that the overwhelming majority of them will not return. The book in which I included my findings was not translated into Hebrew because at the time it contradicted the dominant ideology. Sa'ar and the rest of this bizarre government of ours would prefer to hunker down and cling to the belief that the entire world is against us and we are in the right.

We have become numb to these eye-popping facts: Operation Cast Lead did not bring back Gilad Shalit, nor did it topple the Hamas government. Instead, it sowed destruction in Gaza and undercut our global standing. Our pathetic cries against the Goldstone report did not help, either. The takeover of the pathetic flotilla once again lined up the world against us. Ultimately we opened the Gaza border crossings.

More than anything, Sa'ar's recent initiatives will help worsen the brain drain and the university boycott that awaits us. The despair that a vital sector of Israeli society, including academia, finds itself in needs to get the education minister to consider a renewed way of thinking that does not rely on a mob like that represented by right-wing Zionist movement Im Tirtzu. This brings to mind the moving call by late Labor MK Yizhak Ben-Aharon, who urged for "courage to make gains before calamity strikes." There is no need to silence "treacherous" professors, for the calamity has already struck.

The writer is a professor emeritus of anthropology at Tel Aviv University.



Tikun Olam

Ben Gurion University President defends Neve Gordon after death hreat
Neve Gordon death threat

neve gordon death threat

Neve Gordon death threat: 'Gordon: You are a traitor. I will reach Ben Gurion to kill you. Signed--Im Tirtzu'

In a moment of supreme irony, Ben Gurion University President Rivka Carmi, who only a few months ago was facing a revolt among donors and Israelis aghast at Prof. Neve Gordon‘s support of the global BDS movement, has now released a strong statement of support for him in the face of a death threat. 
She did the right thing compared to the cowardly response she had to Gordon’s articles on BDS.  Then she advanced the specious argument that Gordon himself had somehow crossed a red line of permissible speech in advocating a political position that harmed the state.

Here are major excerpts from her statement:

    …The death threat Professor Gordon received is a crossing of a red line for one and all [here at Ben Gurion] without regard to any difference [we may have] of religion, political affiliation, ethnic origin.

    The political debate in Israel is hard, polarizing, and even extreme.  We walk a very thin line between our democratic obligations and values such as freedom of speech, and our obligations to the security, strength and future of our nation.

    The dispute is piercing and painful and each person is convinced that truth is on his side.  We have already seen that we are not suited for balanced discussion–not even in academia.

    But no matter how much we oppose and disdain the view of another–the shedding of blood is a crime plain and simple.  Something terrible has befallen us and it is imperative that we be on guard.

    Ben Gurion University will not tolerate the fomenting of hatred of any kind, whether physical or verbal violence, and will act vigorously to eradicate it.

Another irony is that Prof. David Newman, a colleague of Gordon’s  and a newly named Ben Gurion dean, found that a British trustee of the University wished for Newman’s demise because of a disagreement with the latter’s liberal politics.  I wonder if Pres. Carmi let this trustee know in no uncertain terms that his speech crossed a line?  Perhaps a trustee can get away with breaking the rules more readily than an unknown person who mails a death threat.

One hopes of course that this incident would sensitize the president to the necessity of protecting her faculty’s right to free expression.  Though she does not say it explicitly, the passage in italics seems to imply that if only Gordon hadn’t violated his end of the bargain he wouldn’t find himself under threat.  Personally, I don’t buy the distinction she attempts to make.  I do not believe it is the obligation of an academic to pull punches during a policy debate because one’s views might endanger the state.  This is total narischkeit.  And certainly in the case of Gordon.  Advocating BDS in no way endangers Israel.  What it does threaten is a conception of Israel as a state with superior rights for Jews and inferior rights for non-Jewish citizens.  And it threatens a state based on Occupation, which is a state many citizens–Jewish and Palestinian–don’t want either.



Palestine Telegraph

Israel prevents prisoners from studying

Added by PT Editor maysaa jarour


The Israeli Prison Service prevents Palestinian prisoners from completing their university study and seized their books.

Yaser Abu Baker, Palestinian leader prisoner in the Askalan Israeli jail, said that the prisoners’ conditions in the jail are very bad as a result of the brutal restrictions imposed by the jail administration.

The Israeli Prison Service has started a campaign of seizing the prisoners’ books as it seized more than 300 books and only allowed the holly Quran, he said.

Abu Baker, who was sentenced to 3 life sentences and an additional 50 years, added that the jail administration prevents the entry of brown trousers and shoes to enforce the prisoners to buy them from the jail with more expensive prices.

Earlier, Riayd Al-Ashqar, the spokesman for the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners' Defense, said that the Israeli Prison Service prevented in 2009 more than 1800 detainee from sitting the high school exams, adding that only a few detainees were allowed to sit the exams in 2008.




Yediot: How an Israeli college succeeded in shutting out Arabs from student body elections

In this morning’s (June 23 2010) Yediot, Uri Misgav  reports on how the management of an academic college in northern Israel intervened in the student body elections in a successful effort to shut-out Palestinian-Israeli representatives. His conclusion:

    The Emek Yezreel College is currently holding its end of year exams. Students are being tested on their academic achievements in the departments of political science, communications, behavioral sciences and education. I think they can be canceled. The message the college management gave its Jewish and Arab students is much louder than any research question. Sixty-two years after its founding Israel is farther than ever from the ability to bravely confront the democratic challenge of integrating its Arab minority.

Misgav’s dose of contemporary Israeli academic reality is supplemented by Avirama Golan’s glimpse of the Knesset Education Committee’s slide into McCarthyism and, earlier in the week, Education Minister Gideon Saar’s vow to punish to punish Israeli professors who back academic boycotts, which came hot on the heels of his endorsement of the Im Tirzu report urging a purge of ‘anti-Zionism’ in Israeli Universities.

Another dot for Boaz Okon, Yediot’s legal editor, to connect in his picture of “the emergence of apartheid and fascism” in Israel.

    A democratic failure


    Op-ed, Uri Misgav, Yediot, June 23 2010 [Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]  


  The  Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel resides in a green lung next to the village of Tel Adashim. In the last two decades it has enjoyed substantial growth and development. The college calls itself “the Academy of the North,” and 5000 students study there for BA and MA degrees. Among other things the college has a popular political science department. At the beginning of the month the campus was supposed to hold a small celebration of democracy: elections for the student association. From my personal experience I know those elections are not really important. Israeli student councils don’t have a real effect on the academy or the country. But what happened at the Emek Yezreel College within a few days is an amazing and very sad political parable.

    At the beginning of the election campaign two lists were competing for control of the council. One represented the incumbent association and the other a vocal opposition that wanted to unseat it. The latter ran a vigorous and aggressive campaign against the incumbent representatives. As students do, they promised a “revolution” and talked about a “cleanup.” Many of the students got interested in the elections.

    At some point the Arab students got into the picture. There are about 1000 of them at the college, which serves the areas of Nazareth and the valleys. They may be a minority but have high political awareness and high voting rates. At first the Arab students negotiated with both existing lists to join one of them. They were rejected and set out to establish a separate list. Even after the deadline for submitting the lists the negotiations continued. Samir Baranseh, chairman of the Arab list, held simultaneous negotiations with the two competing lists in order to create a coalition bloc that would decide the close elections.

    One day before the elections members of the two Jewish lists were summoned to urgent talks with the college CEO, Yoram Raz, and with a senior lecturer. At the end of the meeting their members, who until that moment were quarreling loudly, announced they were running together on a single list. The Arab students claimed that in a conversation they had with Raz he admitted that the initiative for the urgent union came from the college management. “Imagine if you had won all of the seats in the association or most of them,” he told them. “The news would have reached not only the Israeli press but also the world press, even the Turkish press. It is inconceivable for the Arabs, who constitute 20% of the students, to represent all of the students of the college.”

    The head of the Arab list understood the situation and went to the joint Jewish list with a last offer: combining forces in one list, based on a formula of one in every five representatives. That offer too was rejected. At that point Baranseh and his friends announced they were boycotting the elections and establishing a separate Arab students’ committee. On election day, which was supposed to be a face-off between three competing and ambitious lists, only one list ultimately stood for election. Just like in Syria. The students responded accordingly. Only 15% of them bothered to go vote. One, who happens to be a Jew, voted with a blank ballot, on which he wrote: “A dark day for democracy.”

    The Emek Yezreel College is currently holding its end of year exams. Students are being tested on their academic achievements in the departments of political science, communications, behavioral sciences and education. I think they can be canceled. The message the college management gave its Jewish and Arab students is much louder than any research question. Sixty-two years after its founding Israel is farther than ever from the ability to bravely confront the democratic challenge of integrating its Arab minority.


Occupation Magazine

How I was summoned to the Knesset

by Ram Cohen

Translation Adam Keller

On Monday, June 21, I am to appear before the Knesset Education Committee and the Minister of Education, Mr. Gideon Saar, following my unequivocal words to my students, condemning the 43 year-old occupation and rule over the life of the Palestinian people.

A school principal should have a clear and unequivocal moral position about any subject and issue on the agenda of Israeli society. A principal is not an educational clerk. A principal must have, for example, something to say about the deportation of the children of migrant workers, trafficking in women, the separation fence, the withdrawal from Gaza, minimum wage law, settlers attacking Palestinian villagers to exact a `price tag`, the removal of Arabs from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, the siege on Gaza, corruption in government, or the relations of religion and state.

It is the duty of a school principal to take a stand and to defend it if necessary. A principal can not rest content with nodding and mumbling when students ask questions about the conflicts in Israeli society. The one who gives evasive answers is a hollow person, not worthy of being called an educator. Being an educator means to uphold a set of universal and national values which deserve to be part of the state`s symbols.

Being at the storm center of controversy, I was recently obliged to introduce for discussion at our school a spectrum of opinion for and against our presence in the Occupied Territories, and I must admit that this was very difficult for me. When I believe that our country does not respect International Law and its own laws, nor does it have proper regard for human rights - I frankly find it hard to admit into the school representatives of views which support the status quo. Since the expulsion from Paradise it is our duty to distinguish right from wrong. It is my duty to point out the wrong, and to strongly condemn it.

Those who demand that I prepare students for recruitment should know that my duty is also to tell them that they would enter a territory which was occupied 43 years ago, in which human rights are being shamefully violated on a daily basis by means of our military superiority. In future, these children will have to account for themselves, and they will ask if their school has revealed to them the terrible secret called occupation. Yes, occupation. An occupation, not a liberation, not a return to an ancestral land. Not even a return to dry water holes which have been re-filled with tears. *

In the school which I run, there is no entry to proponents of the racist Kahane ideology. There is no place for people who advocate the use of drugs for relieving stress, nor to rabbis who argue that discrimination of Sephardi girls is justified due to the internal codes of their religious community, to those who promote a multiculturalism which includes female genital mutilation - and to those who justify the discrimination against Arab residents of this country or the `encouraging` of them to emigrate.

Wherever there is a conflict, any decision will be a political decision. When I decided seven years that this school would teach Arabic rather than French, that was a political decision. The same when I decided that school hikes will not include the `City of David` settlers.**

On the other hand, also school principals who let their students go to a protest against the withdrawal from Gaza and who present it as the deportation of Jews from their land are performing a political act. To talk to students about a holy duty of settling Jews from the sea to the Jordan River, on the basis of a Divine promise, is a political act. Expressing opposition or support to the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilead Shalit - what is that if not taking a political stand?

So what are the limits of freedom of expression at school? My answer is: everything is permitted provided that it does not contradict such basic values as democracy, universalism and humanism, as well as observing the laws of the State of Israel which should conform to the norms of the Family of Nations.

I can not end this statement without noting that this Knesset debate would probably not have taken place had Professor Yuli Tamir still been Minister of Education and Haim Oron Still headed the Education Committee***. The obvious conclusion is that free speech in the schools is not determined solely by the innocuous expedient of `examining the boundaries`. Rather, it varies according to the political perceptions of those who at the moment occupy the top positions in the educational system, the Knesset and the government.

Ram Cohen is an educator and principal of the Aleph High School in Tel Aviv.

* This is a reference to the song `Jerusalem of Gold`, embodying the nationalist euphoria of 1967, which includes the words `We have come back to the waterholes`.

** The settlers group known as `Elad` have established themselves at Silwan Village, directly south of the Old City of Jerusalem, where they claim King David had his palace 3000 years ago, with the proclaimed aim of `Judaising` it. They have expelled Palestinian residents from several homes and took them over, and the `archeological` diggings conducted by settlers undermine the foundations of many other houses. The `National Park` maintained by the settlers is recommended by the Ministry of Education as a venue for school hikes.

*** Yuli Tamir and Haim Oron, of respectively the Labor Party and the Left-Zionist Meretz Party, held the positions mentioned until the accession of Binyamin Netanyahu to power.



Education minister vows to punish Israeli professors who back academic boycott

Gideon Sa'ar says government will act during the summer against academics who joined call for Israel boycott.

A few days after saying he intends to take action against Israeli professors who call for an academic boycott of Israel, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar is scheduled to appear on Monday before the Knesset Education Committee to discuss the limits of freedom of expression in schools.

Sa'ar refused to provide Haaretz with details of what action he plans to take. His statements, made in the Knesset plenum Wednesday, "speak for themselves," a spokesperson said.

The comments came some time after Ben-Gurion University Professor Neve Gordon, a vocal proponent of an academic boycott against Israel, received a death threat through the mail.

The principals of two Tel Aviv high schools, Zeev Dagani and Ram Cohen, who have publicly criticized the government's policies in the territories, have also been invited to today's committee meeting.

Dagani, the principal of the Herzliya Gymnasia high school, has publicly opposed Sa'ar's plan to send Israel Defense Forces officers into classrooms to encourage students to enlist in the army, and Cohen has often lectured his students about the Israeli occupation.

The panel will also discuss the Islamic Movement's influence on students in Arab schools.

In last week's comments, Sa'ar said it was "important to examine the issues" raised in a report by on-campus Zionist advocacy group Im Tirtzu that alleges that anti-Zionist trends have taken root in political science instruction at Israel's universities. However, Sa'ar would not say whether he would indeed look into the accusations.

Sa'ar's statements were part of a discussion in the Knesset plenum initiated by MKs Uri Ariel (National Union ) and Yulia Shamalov Berkovich (Kadima ) on the issue of "the post-Zionist takeover of Israeli academia." The discussion was prompted by the Im Tirtzu report, which stated that 80 percent of the research papers taught at political science courses in Israeli universities are "anti-Zionist and anti-nationalist." The report was roundly criticized by academics and public figures, but Im Tirtzu officials said they stood behind the study.

"Israeli academia apparently suffers from 'Palestinomania,' a mild psychological illness whose symptoms include self-hatred, an affinity for Israel's enemies, Jewish anti-Semitism and/or anti-Zionism," Shamalov Berkovich said in the Knesset. "The spread of 'Palestinomania' demands the immediate and painful treatment for all of our sake, and the sooner the better."

Ariel called on Sa'ar to establish a ministerial inquiry to probe the accusations contained in Im Tirtzu's report.

Sa'ar said: "I think that the Im Tirtzu report is important in the sense that it generates public debate. It is important to examine the issues raised in the report."

In his statements to the plenum, Sa'ar referred specifically to professors who have backed calls to boycott Israeli universities.

"This is something that is impossible to accept," Sa'ar said. "I have already spoken about this with the head of the Higher Education Council's planning and budgeting committee [Manuel Trajtenberg], and there will be measures taken vis-a-vis the heads of these institutions. This matter is on our agenda - and we plan on taking action over the course of the summer."

Ariel seemed to understand Sa'ar as saying he plans to investigate the charges. His office released a statement reading: "The education minister said that he plans on thoroughly probing the charges made by Im Tirtzu this coming summer."

A spokesperson for Trajtenberg refused to comment when reached by Haaretz, deferring to Sa'ar's office.

"It would behoove the education minister to ignore the report, which emits an aroma of McCarthyism," said Professor Yossi Ben-Artzi, the rector of the University of Haifa. "I hope he will understand the gravity of the very fact of monitoring and informing on lecturers, and of whether he even needs to take seriously an organization like Im Tirtzu, which causes incitement." Earlier this year Sa'ar took part in a conference organized by Im Tirtzu. "I place great importance in this gathering," he said. "Campus activism is hugely vital, and this is what you are doing. For this, you will be blessed." "I very much appreciate this work, which gives expression to an authentic Zeitgeist felt by the public and is much needed on our campuses," Sa'ar said of Im Tirtzu. "I came to tell you: God speed."



Electronic Intifada

Gaza students call on Tiesto to cancel Israel concert 

Open letter, Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel, 18 June 2010

The following letter to Tiesto -- a Dutch musician scheduled to perform in Eilat, Israel next month -- was issued on 18 June by the Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI):

Dear Tiesto,

Nietzsche once said that life without music would be a mistake. The greater mistake against humanity would be to deny one the ability to express themselves in music, in poetry, in dance, in literature, in pleasure and in love.

Dear Tiesto, as you must be aware, we, in Gaza, have been denied the ability to express ourselves. We are denied a voice, denied a smile, to live in safety and security, denied the right to express love, denied sleep, denied the right to express pain, denied the right to read, to write, denied to be human, and what is left? This is life under Israeli medieval siege. Even the people who feel with us are punished for their freedom of expression. They were attacked, shot at, terrorized and butchered as the world stood in horror to the acts of state terrorism that could only be compared to 1930s Germany and Italy, to the Stalinist era, and to the crimes of the rogue state of apartheid South Africa.

Dear Tiesto, you must have been, like us, shocked at the video of an Israeli occupation soldier executing a courageous, conscientious activist Furkan Dogan's head with four bullets from a close range. Furkan was 19 and a student like us. When the Israeli occupation soldiers shoot, they shoot to kill. When they tell you stop and obey their commands, they expect you to obey most slavishly with no resistance. Their arrogance, and superiority are not to be challenged and you must be taught to lower your head. That will never happen.

The latest Israeli massacre against international peace activists on board of the Turkish aid boat to Gaza is just a miniature picture of what happens every day in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, not to mention the third class citizenry of Israel implementing racist laws and a continuous process of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians of 1948.

Dear Tiesto, the farmer is killed on the spot as she waters her blossoming lemon tree, or what is left of her lemon orchids after Israeli bulldozers uproot them. The poor fisherman is shot as he lingers in one mile of water, a limitless sea transformed to a cage, because a soldier had a whim. And 78 students who finished their high schools and who won scholarships to pursue their education abroad are prevented every year from traveling, which violates the right of movement guaranteed under the human rights universal jurisdiction.

We write to you from Gaza, where we can no longer sing, and where no international singer and DJs are allowed to play and sing for us. We are choked now after four years of a stifling, deadly Israeli siege. The amputated bodies of more than 440 children failed to move leaders of the world towards this human made catastrophe. Dear Tiesto, a child of four in the poorest neighborhood of Jabalya's refugee camp in Gaza does not know what chocolate tastes like because Israel says so!

Dear Tiesto, we write to you to appeal to you to be on the just side of history, to have your voice with the oppressed. Like many other internationally renowned musicians and singers who decided not to entertain apartheid Israel such as Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, the Klaxons and Gorillaz Sound System, the Pixies, Carlos Santana and David Banhart, we expect you to follow suit and refrain from doing so. We expect you to sing against apartheid, against ethnic cleansing, for freedom, justice and accountability.

Dear Tiesto,

We are traumatized, but hopeful; angry, but full of love; devastated, but strong. Echoing the boycott, divestment and sanctions call of our Black South African comrades against apartheid, we ask you to boycott Apartheid Israel. Dear Tiesto, please don't play for Israel.

Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) Besieged Gaza, Palestine



The GSS Must Cease Coercion of Palestinians Medical Students to Provide Information as a Condition for Granting them Permits to Practice in East Jerusalem Hospitals

Source: Al Mezan Center for Human Rights; Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)

(Haifa, Israel) On 13 June 2010, Adalah Attorney Haneen Naamnih, in cooperation with Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, sent a letter to the Israeli Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense and the Attorney General demanding that they issue orders to the General Security Service (GSS or "Shabak") to stop coercing Palestinian medical students studying at Al Quds University in Abu Dis and conditioning the granting of permits to them to enter East Jerusalem to practice in hospitals on collaborating with the Israeli security services.

Palestinian students from other areas of the West Bank studying medicine and paramedical professions are obliged to obtain a permit to enter and work in East Jerusalem so that they can undertake their internships in the six Palestinian hospitals located there, such as al-Makassed, St. Joseph's and others. This practical training is a requirement for the medical students in order to obtain a Palestinian license to practice the profession; certain aspects of training are only available from the East Jerusalem hospitals. Cooperation between the Al Quds University Faculty of Medicine and Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem has existed for years, and many of the medical faculty members at the University also work in these hospitals.

Based on complaints received by PHR-I and the article published by journalist Amira Hass in Haaretz on 12 May 2010, the letter stressed that the GSS is terrorizing the students who apply for the permits. The GSS is using psychological and sometimes even physical pressure in order to recruit them to the Israeli security service, despite their clear opposition. (Bold H.) The students who turned to PHR-I had entry permits and had worked in hospitals in East Jerusalem for many years. After they were called by the GSS and refused to work for them, their permits were suddenly withdrawn without any credible justification.

In the letter, Attorney Naamnih argued that requiring the medical students to collaborate with the GSS in order to gain entry to occupied East Jerusalem is a deplorable policy that violates the students' rights to dignity and liberty. Preventing their entry also deprives them of the opportunity of completing their medical studies and practicing the profession of their choice, which violates their right to education and employment. Together, these appalling tactics will affect the health rights of all the Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), where there is a dire need to develop and strengthen the health system and the quantity and quality of available health care.

International humanitarian law strictly prohibits the occupying power from demanding collaboration from the occupied protected persons. These acts of the GSS are also prohibited under the Israeli criminal law, as they may constitute "extortion under threat". (bold H.)


Tesc Divest

Resolutions Passed! Click here for press release.

Click here to read a letter of support from Palestinian university students!

TESC Divest from Chance Kroll on Vimeo.

The Resolutions

Resolution #1: We, the student body of The Evergreen State College, call on The Evergreen State College Foundation to instate a socially responsible investment policy. To this end, we ask them to divest from companies that profit from Israel's occupation of Palestine. As members of the Evergreen community, we stand with conscientious Palestinians, Israelis, and other international figures such as South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu to endorse the non-violent tactic of boycott, divestment, and sanctions for a peaceful and just resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict. Do you support this resolution?
Passed by 79.5% of the student vote!

Resolution #2: In 2003, Evergreen student Rachel Corrie was killed by a weaponized Caterpillar bulldozer while non-violently protecting the home of a Palestinian family in Rafah, Palestine. Numerous Palestinian civilians have been killed by militarized Caterpillar bulldozers, as well. Caterpillar, Inc. knowingly sells bulldozers to Israel for military purposes in violation of international law and the US Arms Export Control Act, despite on-going pressure from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that they desist. Their equipment is used to demolish Palestinian homes, wells, olive trees, orchards, farmland, and other infrastructure as well as to build Israel's Annexation Wall, which was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Therefore, we, the student body, demand that The Evergreen State College declare a CAT-Free Campus and instate the following policies:

   1. Refuse to allow Caterpillar equipment to be used for maintenance and upkeep of campus facilities.
   2. Include stipulations in all construction agreements that no Caterpillar equipment will be used for any contracted services with the college.

These policies will remain in effect until Caterpillar, Inc. ends its complicity in human rights violations. Do you support this resolution?
Passed by 71.8% of the student vote!

The Student Union resolution:

Whereas the passage by student vote of the Divestment and CAT-free Campus Resolutions demonstrates an unambiguous mandate; and

Whereas the Geoduck Student Union is the elected representative of the student body;

We, the Geoduck Student Union, demand:

That The Evergreen State College and The Evergreen State College Foundation instate a socially responsible investment policy and to this end divest from companies that profit off of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. This divestment policy will remain in effect until such time as Israel abides by all applicable international law and ceases to illegally occupy and blockade the indigenous Palestinian land of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

And that The Evergreen State College declare a CAT-Free Campus and instate the following policies:

Refuse to allow Caterpillar equipment to be used for maintenance and upkeep of campus facilities.

Include stipulations in all construction agreements that no Caterpillar equipment be used for any contracted services with the college.

These policies will remain in effect until Caterpillar, Inc. ends its complicity in human rights violations.

The GSU stands with conscientious Palestinians, Israelis, and other international figures such as South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu to endorse the non-violent tactic of boycott, divestment, and sanctions for a peaceful and just resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

By the beginning of the academic year 2010-2011 we insist on full disclosure of all corporations, including those held through mutual funds, in which The Evergreen State College Foundation and The Evergreen State College are invested.

Further we insist that the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors make public a plan of action for divestment from companies that profit from the occupation of Palestine. In addition, we insist that The Evergreen State College initiates the above CAT-Free Campus policies.

We join with campuses around the world in building a movement for human rights and dignity by working to end the occupation of Palestine. We look to other campuses to join us in our common effort for justice and peace in the Middle East.

Passed unanimously!




British Academic Union Makes BDS History, Severing Links with Histadrut and Boycotting Ariel College

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) expresses its profound appreciation for the courageous positions in support of Palestinian rights taken by the membership of the University and College Union (UCU) at its Congress today in Manchester. 
The UCU has again firmly and decisively established its unwavering commitment to the Palestinian civil society's campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with its obligations under international law and recognizes the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.  Making history in the international trade union movement in the West, UCU’s Congress also voted with an overwhelming majority to "sever all relations with Histadrut, and to urge other trade unions and bodies to do likewise."  The UCU has today confirmed its established position that it is legitimate to denounce Israel’s oppressive policies and to hold the state and its complicit institutions accountable for human rights abuses, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.

The Histadrut’s long standing partnership in the Israeli state’s colonization, ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination against the Palestinian people, particularly its statement on January 13th, 2009 supporting Israel’s war crimes in the occupied and besieged Gaza strip, has been condemned by a number of trade unions, including the British Communications Workers Union (CWU) [1] and others in Belgium, Spain, France, Norway and around the world.  The Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) has recently decided to review its relations with the Histadrut with a view to severing them.

PACBI applauds the UCU’s reaffirmation of its determination to implement BDS measures within the existing constraints.  On a practical level, we appreciate the decision "to seek in conjunction with other trade unions, nationally and internationally, to establish an annual international conference on BDS, a trade union sponsored BDS website and a research centre on commercial, cultural and academic complicity with Israeli breaches of international law."  These resolutions will have a far reaching impact on enhancing the global BDS movement, particularly in providing the needed resources for furthering the academic boycott of Israel.  The Congress’s decision to campaign actively against the EU-Israel Association Agreement in coordination with other trade unions and solidarity movements is another milestone that responds to a central appeal of the Palestinian civil society BDS campaign.  We also appreciate the UCU’s decision to work with other bodies in supporting the membership of the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) in Education International.

Through these decisions, the UCU joins other UK and international unions and public bodies in endorsing and implementing BDS.  Most recently, the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) reaffirmed in its annual meetings its BDS policy.  Days earlier, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) had also reaffirmed its own overwhelming support for BDS.  The British TUC has also launched with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) an important drive aimed at implementing a wide boycott of Israeli colonies’ products and services, as a first step towards a more comprehensive application of BDS, as called for in the TUC’s last congress. 

Creative and effective realization of BDS policies has become a theme among trade unions and TU federations from South Africa’s COSATU to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).  In 2009, Hampshire College in the US became the first in the West to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation.  Many other universities in North America are witnessing similar divestment campaigns at various stages of development.  Norway and Sweden have recently divested their respective pension funds of all stock in Elbit Systems, a leading Israeli military manufacturer implicated in violations of international law.  Besides the UK, campaigns supporting PACBI’s Call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel have sprung up in the US, Spain, France, Italy, India, Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, among other countries.  Leading cultural figures of the calibre of Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron and Carlos Santana have heeded the call to cancel performances in Israel in protest over its persistent suppression of Palestinian rights.  Some of the largest supermarket chains in Italy have decided to stop carrying Israeli colonies’ products.

PACBI especially welcomes the UCU Congress resolution to "commence the investigatory process associated with the imposition of a boycott of Ariel College," a college-colony built on occupied Palestinian territory, as a first step in implementing the academic boycott against the Israeli academy.  It is worth noting that the Spanish Government had excluded an Israeli academic team from Ariel College from a sustainable architecture competition last year for the same reasons.  All Israeli universities are deeply linked to the military-security establishment, playing indispensable -- direct and indirect -- roles in perpetuating Israel's decades-old violations of international law and fundamental Palestinian rights.  No Israeli university or academic union has ever taken a public position against the occupation, let alone against Israel's system of apartheid or the denial of Palestinian refugee rights.  Israeli universities are profoundly complicit in developing weapons systems and military doctrines deployed in Israel's recent war crimes in Gaza [2]; justifying the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land and gradual ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians [3]; providing moral justification for extra-judicial killings and indiscriminate attacks against civilians [4]; systematically discriminating against "non-Jewish" students in admissions, dormitory room eligibility, financial aid, etc.; and many other implicit and explicit violations of human rights and international law. [5]

Finally, we salute the UCU membership for its effective and consistent solidarity in pushing BDS forward and for its politically and morally sound contribution to the struggle to end oppression and uphold universal human rights for all.


[2] See, for example, the following incriminating evidence against Tel Aviv University's partnership with the Israeli army and weapons industries:


[4] and Reuven Pedatzur, The Israeli Army House Philosopher, Haaretz, 24 February 2004.


Yahoo news


DETROIT – Israel has denied entry to a Detroit university student of Palestinian descent traveling there for a study-abroad program. Arab-American and civil rights groups plan to protest the decision Thursday.

Abeer Afana, a 21-year-old Wayne State University student, was detained May 16 at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv as she tried to enter the country on her U.S. passport. She was then returned to the United States.

U.S.-born Afana of the Detroit suburb of Novi was part of a monthlong program designed to examine conflict and cooperation among Israelis and Palestinians. Seven other American students were admitted, including Jews and Arabs.

Afana was sent home because her parents were from the Gaza Strip and she had once held a Palestinian passport.

In Tel Aviv, Israeli Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad told The Associated Press that Afana was told she had to enter Israel from Jordan, via the Allenby Crossing, because she is a Palestinian with a Palestinian identity number. She said it does not matter that the student was born in the U.S.

"Anyone with an active Palestinian identity number ... has to go through Allenby," Haddad said. "It was not a denial of entry in principle," she said, adding that the rule has been in effect for "many years."

The U.S. Department of State's consular affairs website warns travelers that Israel will "consider as Palestinian anyone who has a Palestinian identification number, was born in the West Bank or Gaza, or was born in the United States but has parents or grandparents who were born or lived in the West Bank or Gaza."

It says such Americans must travel to Israel using their Palestinian passports, regardless of their U.S. citizenship, and that they "may be barred from entering or exiting Israel, the West Bank or Gaza."

The Palestine Cultural Office, Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, National Lawyers Guild and other organizations said they would hold a news conference Thursday afternoon at Detroit's U.S. courthouse. Afana plans to attend.

Afana told The Associated Press Thursday that neither her family nor the university anticipated problems because she is a U.S. citizen with a valid passport. Her family, which immigrated to the U.S. in the late 1980s, previously traveled to Gaza through Egypt.

"I didn't even know about Jordan until I got home," she said. "For me it was just like question after question about me, my family. ... No one gave me any alternatives. It was straight from interrogation to getting my bags."

Afana said the two other Arab students also were interrogated but allowed through. One student is also of Palestinian descent but Afana believes her family came from the West Bank and she did not have a Palestinian passport.

She said the trip is "the opportunity of a lifetime to go and learn about the other side," and "see what I can do to promote peace and coexistence and tolerance."

Afana said her father paid for the trip, and that the university is working to get the money refunded.

Bob Thomas, Wayne State's dean of liberal arts and sciences, said the university is "meticulous" about ensuring that students are traveling on valid passports.

"We want to do things correctly. We are trying to do things in good faith," Thomas said.

Thomas said Afana is an ideal candidate for the program, which has students interacting with Israelis and Palestinians.

"She's exactly the kind of student we hope will be involved," he said.

"We've consciously tried to involve students from the various backgrounds that are representative of our region and that region," he said.

The university said in a statement that officials have asked members of Michigan's Congressional delegation to look into the matter.

Associated Press writer Amy Teibel in Jerusalem contributed to this report.




JERUSALEM  -- Hundreds of Hebrew University students marched from their Mount Scopus campus to the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah to protest the eviction of Arab families.

At Wednesday's protest, called "The Occupation is Here ... Three Minutes From Mt. Scopus," the students were joined by dozens of university professors. They chanted slogans such as "We won’t sit in class while rights are being trampled" and "We won't learn civil rights with racism in Sheikh Jarrah," according to Ynet.

The neighborhood has seen weekly protests since two extended Palestinian families were evicted from their homes last August and Jewish settlers moved in to the homes, which an Israeli court ruled were Jewish-owned.




Israeli academics protest WB evictions

Demonstrators protest settlements in the East al-Quds neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, April 9, 2010.

Hundreds of Israeli university students and professors have staged a demonstration in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) to protest eviction orders against the Palestinians in the city.

Some 800 students and at least a dozen professors from Hebrew University staged a march on Wednesday afternoon to Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where settlers backed by Israeli authorities are forcing out Palestinian families, The Jerusalem Post reported on its website.

The Wednesday's march was the first "academic protest" in the neighborhood which together with the rest of the northeast al-Quds has been the scene of massive weekly Friday protests in the past months.

Polish-born Professor Ze'ev Sternhell from the university's Political Science Department described the rally as a "new step" in the protest movement in Sheikh Jarrah.

"And I think the fact that we're seeing so many people here today, also shows that we've reached a point of crisis and that dangerous things are happening here that need to stop," he warned the professor.

Sternhell said the protest was prompted by "the suffering of those who were kicked out of their homes and others who fear they will be next" and "the political stupidity that allowed it to happen."

No confrontation was reported during the brief demonstration which ended when the protesters peacefully dispersed.




Israel is encouraging academic boycott by denying entry to Chomsky
If Israel feels it cannot survive free speech, then it is one step closer to flirting with totalitarianism.

By Carlo Strenger
Professor Noam Chomsky, the left-wing radical thinker and activist, is regularly voted the most influential public intellectual in the world. He has been highly critical of Israel’s policies for many years, particularly since the time of the first Lebanon war in 1982.

On Sunday, Chomsky was denied entry at the Allenby Bridge on his way from Amman to Ramallah, where he was scheduled to lecture about American foreign policy at Bir Zeit University.

By his own account, it seems the authorities had been expecting to detain him because he was respectfully asked to follow a young man, who seemed somewhat embarrassed by the task, for questioning.

During the hours there, the young man repeatedly spoke on the phone, apparently to the Interior Ministry in Jerusalem. Chomsky was, among other things, told that Israel doesn’t like what he is.

Nobody in his right mind can claim that Chomsky represents a security threat to Israel. He’s 81 years old. He is not a specialist on armed insurrection, and he has never called for violence against Israel.

While reading talkbacks to the reports that he was denied entry I came upon statements like "He’s a well-known Holocaust denier" that fall somewhere between total ignorance and the onset of paranoia.

So just for the record: Chomsky is in favor of the two-state solution, and neither calls for violence against Israel nor for dismantling the state. He is even against an academic boycott of Israel’s universities – a rather popular cause of the European left in recent years.

I have heard Chomsky speak on a number of occasions in Israel in the 1980s and 1990s. According to his own testimony, he was here last in 1997.

Chomsky has not changed his views since, so it must be Israel that has changed – and very much for the worse. Otniel Schneller, a Knesset member from the Kadima party - a supposedly centrist faction - had the following to say about the Chomsky affair: "It's good that Israel did not allow one of its accusers to enter its territory. I recommend [Chomsky] try one of the tunnels connecting Gaza and Egypt."

I have never heard of a democratic state denying entry to thinkers (or anybody else for that matter) who neither call for violence or break local or international law. So what on earth is happening to Israel? Is the Interior Ministry offended that Chomsky didn’t also plan to speak in Israel? If so, is this a reason to deny him entry?

Israel is currently fighting international calls to boycott Israeli universities and academics. Does anybody think that denying entry to Chomsky will strengthen our case?

If anything, barring Chomsky gives ammunition to those who say that Israel is infringing on academic freedom in the Palestinian Authority, and that a boycott against its universities is therefore justified.

If Israel feels it can defend its actions morally and politically, it should not fear thinkers who criticize it. But Israel is beginning to tamper with free speech, and this is a truly worrying development.

If Israel feels it cannot survive free speech, then it is one step closer to flirting with totalitarianism. In fact, during his questioning, when Chomsky was asked whether he was ever denied entry into a country he said, yes: into Czechoslovakia in 1968, after the Russian invasion, when he wanted to visit his friend Dubcek. This puts Israel into very poor company indeed.

This shameful episode, once again, reminds me of Yeshayahu Leibowitz’s dictum: "I don’t know whether Israel’s policies since 1967 are evil stupidity or stupidly evil." This particular case I would argue is both.

It is evil to deny Bir Zeit University lectures, even if some government official here doesn’t like their content. And it is utterly stupid, because Israel has once again succeeded in making the world’s headlines as a brutish state that infringes on human rights, freedom of speech and academic freedom, all of which many of us here are working so hard to defend.



Stop the Occupation

UC Berkeley Divestment: "We lost the vote, but won the fight."

The ASUC Senate at UC Berkeley fell one vote short of the 14 needed to override a veto of a bill calling for divestment from two companies, General Electric and United Technologies, which directly profit from Israel's human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

From Cal Divest from Apartheid:  "We lost the vote, but won the night. 13 senators voted to override, 14 were required. Only 5 senators voted to uphold, less than half the 13.  We made a statement recorded for posterity and forced everyone to listen and watch what the nature of Israeli occupation is, to listen to Palestinian voices, from Palestine and from the US, telling their stories. These transcripts will stay preserved in recorded history, and we shall overcome.  Make no mistake, we lost the vote, but we won the night. Undaunted, Cal Divest Team"

As we've said before, this conversation needs to happen on every campus. Find out how you can make that happen by using US Campaign campus boycott and divestment resources.





Dershowitz came to Tel Aviv this week to receive an Honorary Doctorate at the university…. instead, he received a good, swift boot in the ass!

TAU professors denounce Dershowitz for speech against left

Academics hit back after U.S. commentator slams university staff for backing boycotts against Israel.

By Or Kashti

Alan Dershowitz in Tel Aviv, January 24, 2001
Alan Dershowitz in Tel Aviv, January 24, 2001     Alan Dershowitz in Tel Aviv, January 24, 2001
Photo by: Archive

Senior faculty members at Tel Aviv University have come out against remarks by Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz on Saturday in which he condemned Israeli university faculty who criticize Israel and have even supported an academic boycott of the country.

Dershowitz made the remarks, in which he also criticized academics who use their academic freedom and their Jewishness to chastise the Israeli government, at a ceremony awarding him an honorary doctorate at the university.

(Read the complete text of Dershowitz’s speech here)

In a letter to the university’s president, Joseph Klafter, a group of faculty members demanded that Tel Aviv University disassociate itself from Dershowitz’s comments and “unequivocally defend the freedom of expression of all the members of the academic community.”

They wrote: “The fact that Dershowitz mentioned the names of [university] lecturers and accused them of hurting students and harming the resilience of the State of Israel already borders on incitement.”

The letter was initiated in the history department and within hours attracted the support of 80 faculty members.

Dershowitz, one of the most prominent pro-Israel advocates in the United States, spoke at the university on Saturday evening on behalf of this year’s recipients of honorary degrees. But he stressed that the views he expressed were his own. Dershowitz said academic freedom not only meant freedom to criticize the establishment but also the right to defend the government, work with it and be a patriot.

He said students also have academic freedom and the right not to accept lecturers’ classroom propaganda. Dershowitz’s speech was met by enthusiastic applause.

In their protest letter, the faculty said that Dershowitz “has no evidence that anyone on the faculty has forced his views on students.”

Tel Aviv University issued its own statement last night. “Prof. Dershowitz enjoyed the right to freedom of speech and to express his views. Klafter emphasizes that the university will continue to unequivocally defend freedom of expression of all the members of the academic community.”

Dershowitz mentioned three faculty members – Rachel Giora of the linguistics department, Anat Matar of the philosophy department and Shlomo Sand of the history department.

Outgoing university rector Dan Levitan recently threatened to bring disciplinary charges against Matar after she took part in a conference in London – while classes were in recess at the university – dealing with the general and academic boycott of Israel. But no action has been taken.

Regarding Levitan’s threatened action against Matar, the university said in its statement that “by virtue of his position, the university rector is entitled to approve or not approve vacation time for a member of the faculty during the academic year.”

Dershowitz issued a separate statement to Haaretz. “Let the public judge whether the petition correctly characterizes my talk and whether it borders on ‘incitement’ or is itself an example of the kind of free speech many on the hard left would like to stifle,” he wrote.




by Scott McConnell

A couple of months ago I asked Mike Desch to do a piece on BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) for The American Conservative.  My sense of the movement was little more than impressionistic: I knew of the campaigns to bar Israeli films from being shown at festivals; of efforts to force universities to divest from companies involved in the occupation; of local initiatives to protest stores that sold products manufactured in the occupied territories as “made in Israel.”  I had mixed feelings about some of these, enthusiasm for others. But clearly BDS was succeeding in educating and mobilizing people, clearly a necessary first step for changing the Israeli/Palestinian status quo.

I wanted TAC’s piece to be a realistic assessment, not cheerleading.  Desch, an international relations scholar at Notre Dame, has long been attuned to the injustice in the region. But he is a realist, not an activist. He produced a smart essay laying out the reasons why he felt BDS would not accomplish very much. I urge readers of this site to read it: it rests on a different platform of presuppositions than the debate here between Jerry Haber and Ahmed Moor, but is probably closer to current mainstream of American opinion than either of them. My own reaction was that for the first time I didn’t agree with Mike’s assessment of an issue.

I concur with Desch that BDS is probably not going to succeed in engendering the kind of economic sanctions that will force Israel to change course. He gives a compelling overview of when sanctions might work, when they don’t (political scientists who have studied the matter historically conclude that they seldom do, and hardly ever when they target the core system of a particular regime). Even in the propitious case of South Africa, sanctions were a secondary or tertiary factor in bringing down the apartheid. I think he is correct to  conclude that Israel’s major trade partners –Europe and the United States—are not going to impose economic sanctions on Israel: Europe is too divided, and given the political culture of the United States, such a turnabout is virtually unimaginable. So, he concludes, BDS is something of a waste of energy: better to concentrate on changing the US government’s policy on the Mideast.  David Petraeus’s bleak assessment of the Israeli-Palestinian impact on American security considerations—emphasized by Joe Biden when he was in Jerusalem—is the argument most likely to succeed.   

This assessment  may be true so far as it goes. What it misses is the potential of a social movement to educate, to force people off the fence, and to eventually mobilize a critical mass that views the question in a new light. The American South was eventually transformed by actions which began as educative, symbolic protests. A few dozen black students getting themselves arrested at a lunch counter could hardly change much.  But they could set a thousand times their number on the path of reading and thinking about segregation, eventually producing a national consensus to end it.  Israel’s system of occupation law is different, but certainly more restrictive and brutal than George Wallace’s Alabama. But Israel is dependent on American indifference to the occupation as the South was on Northern readiness to content itself with lip-service exhortations about equality under the law. But active protests forced more and more people to realize lip service wasn’t enough.

I’m not sure how Mike views the recent divestment battle at UC Berkeley, where the student government came up just short of the super majority needed to overturn the president’s veto of a divestment measure. In my view, the campaign was anything but a failure. How many people on campus did the debate reach? How  many considered, perhaps for the first time, what the Israeli occupation means and what is America’s role in subsidizing it? The raw number might still be relatively small—but I would feel safe betting it’s ten times those that existed before the divestment campaign.  Multiply that by every campus where a divestment initiative takes place and BDS has created an educated cadre of activists that will be influential for years to come.

To a great extent politics –including foreign policy-- is a matter of the heart. Sad to say, realist assessments of American interests in the Middle East have seldom governed American policies; Eisenhower’s presidency may have been the only time they came close. This explains why the divestment campaign is so unsettling  to Israel’s government: it targets Israeli policies on a moral level, and it is on moral level that Americans will one day change their minds. BDS brazenly pushes a competing narrative about Zionism: not a “land without people for a people without land” but a state built on ethnic cleansing and apartheid. One doesn’t have to accept this analysis hook line and sinker;  nor does one have to accept all the positions of BDS. One can (as I do) continue to believe that a fair two-state solution is the most just outcome that has any chance of being accomplished in this generation. BDS campaigns, to the extent that they concentrate energy and passion on the issue, can’t help but open up minds for all the arguments, including nuanced and realist ones, about where America’s national interests lie.

For these reasons, BDS is a substantial net plus. As an embryonic movement it has already managed to engage thousands of people. It gives those who seek actively to oppose injustice a focused outlet for their energies. By challenging Israel on moral grounds, it targets the occupation at its most vulnerable point. Israel’s military is dominant, and a frightened US Congress may sign on to AIPAC-drafted resolutions forever. But Israel remains vulnerable precisely because its occupation of the West Bank, its blockade on Gaza and its system of checkpoints and bureaucratic ethnic cleansing are profoundly contrary to America’s values. The BDS campaigns have, with bluntness and passion, begun to force this basic fact into the American conversation. My largest regret about the movement is that it didn’t start twenty years ago.



Angry Arab News

"Jewish students at Brandeis protest Oren visit"
"But the days in which Jewish students on an American campus would have been thrilled to have the Israeli ambassador honored by their school are apparently long since gone. Brandeis’s student newspaper, The Justice (how’s that for irony?), deplored the choice, writing that “Mr. Oren is a divisive and inappropriate choice for keynote speaker at commencement, and we disapprove of the university’s decision to grant someone of his polarity on this campus that honor.”"



Eats shoot 'n leaves

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee {AIPAC] has launched a drive to take over student government at the University of California at Berkeley, the organization’s Leadership Development Director announced at last week’s annual conference in Washington.

Here’s the money quote from Jonathan Kessler, made to student leaders drawn fom 370 campuses, including representatives from all 50 states:

    How are we going to beat back the anti-Israel divestment resolution at Berkeley? We’re going to make certain that pro-Israel students take over the student government and reverse the vote. That is how AIPAC operates in our nation’s capitol. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation’s campuses.

Also included among those chosen to address the students was attorney and militant Zionist Alan Dershowitz, who, reports JTA reporter Ben Harris, was “greeted like a rock star.”

Here’s Harris’s report [HT to Pulse]:(it sometimes does not work(?), so posted it also above this article H.)

Kessler’s remarks were aimed at the March 18 16-4 vote by the Associated Students of the University of California Berkeley Senate to support a resolution calling for the university to divest from investment in companies providing military support to Israel.

The resolution was vetoed by ASUC president Will Smelko on March 24.



Open Letter to Berkeley Students on their Historic Israeli Divestment Bill

by Naomi Klein

On March 18, continuing a long tradition of pioneering human rights campaigns, the Senate of the Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley (ASUC) passed "A Bill In Support of UC DIVESTMENT FROM WAR CRIMES."
The  historic bill resolves to divest ASUC's assets from two American companies, General Electric and United Technologies, that are "materially and militarily supporting the Israeli government's occupation of the Palestinian territories"-and to advocate that the UC, with about $135 million invested in companies that profit from Israel's illegal actions in the Occupied Territories, follow suit.

Although the bill passed by a vote of 16-4 after a packed and intense debate, the President of the Senate vetoed the bill six days later. The Senate is expected to reconsider the bill soon; groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace are asking supporters of the bill to send letters to the Senators, who can overturn the veto with only 14 votes.

Here is the letter I just sent:

    Dear members of the ASUC Senate,

    I am writing to urge you to reaffirm Senate Bill 118A, despite the recent presidential veto.

    It comes as no surprise that you are under intense pressure to reverse your historic and democratic decision to divest from two companies that profit from Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. When a school with a deserved reputation for academic excellence and moral leadership takes such a bold position, it threatens to inspire others to take their own stands.

    Indeed, Berkeley--the campus and the wider community--has provided this kind of leadership on many key issues in the past: not only Apartheid in South Africa but also sweatshops in Indonesia, dictatorship in Burma, political killings in Nigeria, and the list goes on. Time and again, when the call for international solidarity has come from people denied a political voice, Berkeley has been among the first to answer. And in virtually every case, what began as a small action in a progressive community quickly spread across the country and around the world.

    Your recent divestment bill opposing Israeli war crimes stands to have this same kind of global impact, helping to build a grassroots, non-violent movement to end Israel's violations of international law. And this is precisely what your opponents--by spreading deliberate lies about your actions--are desperately trying to prevent. They are even going so far as to claim that, in the future, there should be no divestment campaigns that target a specific country, a move that would rob activists of one of the most effective tools in the non-violent arsenal. Please don't give into this pressure; too much is on the line.

    As the world has just witnessed with the Netanyahu government's refusal to stop its illegal settlement expansion, political pressure is simply not enough to wrench Israel off its current disastrous path. And when our governments fail to apply sanctions for defiant illegality, other forms of pressure must come into play, including targeting those corporations that are profiting directly from human rights abuses.

    Whenever we take a political action, we open ourselves up to accusations of hypocrisy and double standards, since the truth is that we can never do enough in the face of pervasive global injustice. Yet to argue that taking a clear stand against Israeli war crimes is somehow to "discriminate unfairly" against Israelis and Jews (as the veto seems to claim) is to grossly pervert the language of human rights. Far from "singling out Israel," with Senate Bill 118A, you are acting within Berkeley's commendable and inspiring tradition.

    I understand that there is some debate about whether or not your divestment bill was adopted "in haste." Not having been there, I cannot comment on your process, though I am deeply impressed by the careful research that went into the decision. I also know that in 2005 an extraordinarily broad range of Palestinian civil society groups called on activists around the world to adopt precisely these kinds of peaceful pressure tactics. In the years since that call, we have all watched as Israeli abuses have escalated dramatically: the attack on Lebanon in the summer of 2006, a massive expansion of illegal settlements and walls, an ongoing siege on Gaza that violates all prohibitions on collective punishment, and, worst of all, the 2008/9 attack on Gaza that left approximately 1,400 dead.

    I would humbly suggest that when it comes to acting to end Israeli war crimes, the international response has not suffered from too much haste but from far too little. This is a moment of great urgency, and the world is watching.

    Be brave.

    Yours sincerely,

    Naomi Klein



Electronic Intifada

Health workers and advocates support call for U of Arizona to divest

Press release, UA Health for Human Rights, 30 March 2010

The following press release was issued on 30 March 2010 by UA Health for Human Rights, an ad hoc group formed by the broader University Community for Human Rights, a student-led board leading divestment initiatives at the University of Arizona:

A joint group of more than 50 Jewish, Christian, Muslim and agnostic medical and health advocates of the Tucson and surrounding region, following student initiative, are calling on the University of Arizona to divest from corporations benefiting from the global health and humanitarian crisis in Palestine caused by Israel's military occupation, supported by the United States.

In recent weeks the Arizona Daily Wildcat, the daily newspaper of the University of Arizona, exposed the business relationship between companies Motorola, Caterpillar and the University of Arizona, prompting the numerous health advocates to act. UA President Robert Shelton, for several months, refuses to seriously address the issue thereby dismissing students' concerns and those of the broader Tucson human rights community. Since August of last year, students in University Community for Human Rights (UCHR), the group leading the campus call for divestment, have requested meetings with President Shelton; to date he has not granted their requests nor answered alternative requests for him to send representation on his behalf to meet with students about the issue.

Following through with an open letter released on Friday [26 March], 52 signers ranging from local physicians, medical professors, public health professionals, students and humanitarian aid workers have demanded an end to these contracts and relationships which violate University of Arizona's own Policy on Corporate Relations and which contradict the UA's overall mission, particularly that of its College of Medicine.

The signers endorsed the statement foremost as individuals of the University of Arizona/regional medical and health community, although many of them also represent participation in a diverse spectrum of prestigious medical and human rights activities. Some of the signers include Joyceen Boyle (PhD), former Associate Dean of the University of Arizona Nursing School and current Country Specialist on Amnesty International USA's Central American Coordination Group; Barbara Warren (MD), National Board of Directors member of Physicians for Social Responsibility; Carolyn Trowbridge (RN), member of the University of Arizona's University Committee for Monitoring Labor and Human Rights Issues; also numerous aid workers of local humanitarian organizations No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes and Tucson Samaritans: Hannah Hafter, Nancy Murphy, Sarah Roberts, Annie Swanson, Maryada Vallet, Jim Walsh; as well as student leaders Natasha Bhuyan and Allison Lowe (med students) of progressive University of Arizona group Medical Students for Choice; and Enas Tamimi, officer of University of Arizona Students for Justice in Palestine (undergraduate, Nutritional Sciences).

According to students Gabriel Matthew Schivone and Hali Nurnberg, co-directors of University of Arizona Community for Human Rights: "The actions of these courageous doctors and health advocates demonstrate the uncontroversial human rights consensus on the US/Israel-Palestine conflict; they suggest how to help attain a peaceful resolution, that is to say, implementing the sort of international nonviolent divestment activism that helped end apartheid South Africa's acts of regional aggression and occupation throughout the latter half of the 20th century ... When all the Israeli human rights groups, all the Palestinian human rights groups, all the international human rights groups are saying the same thing, namely, that Israel regularly violates the rights of Palestinians under occupation, suggesting that the occupation is detrimental to the health and safety of everyone it touches -- both Palestinian and Israeli -- the world is compelled to listen."

This initiative follows the historic resolution recently passed on Thursday, 18 March by the Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley, in support of financial divestment from two companies associated with their university for the companies' connection to human rights abuses committed by Israel in its US-backed military occupation of Palestine. On 25 February 2010 a similar bill was passed by the student government of the University of Michigan's Dearborn campus. Last year, Hampshire College became the first college or university to financially divest from the occupation. This past September, Norway became the first state to obey the July 2004 ruling by the United Nations International Court of Justice which proclaimed upon the entire international community "not to render aid or assistance in maintaining" the "illegal situation created" by Israel's separation wall which cuts and divides Palestinian lands and communities. Divestment movements led by students, trade unions, private sector firms and other members of civil society are active in dozens of countries throughout the world.

All of the above actions occur following the 2005 call by a consensus of more than 170 Palestinian civil society organizations for initiatives of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law. On Tuesday, 30 March 2010, Palestinian civil society is calling on people of conscience throughout the world for a Global BDS Day of Action.

In Tucson, numerous groups, both on and off campus, have joined together to issue their calls on the University of Arizona to divest, including University of Arizona National Lawyers Guild, Social Justice League, Students for Justice in Palestine, Muslim Students Association, Tucson Women in Black, Jobs With Justice (Tucson chapter), Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Tucson chapter), Tierra Y Libertad Organization, Casa Maria Catholic Worker House/Soup Kitchen, Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, International Solidarity Movement (Arizona Chapter) and many others.




Columbia J School class covers the occupation, after all

by Philip Weiss

A couple weeks ago I scoffed at the fact that Ari Goldman’s "Covering Religion" class at the Columbia Journalism School was taking a caravan to the Holy Land and had scheduled Yad Vashem for Friday– when Fridays are the time of nonviolent popular resistance actions across the West Bank and in Judaized East Jerusalem, which maybe you noticed is about the biggest international story these days.
Well Goldman’s class is back and here is a good report by student Rory Kress on Palestinian clashes with Israeli occupying forces in Shuafat, the refugee camp that borders the neighborhood in which Israel plans yet more settlement units, Ramat Shlomo. It appears that the clashes took place last Friday. Kress also has footage of the nonviolent demo in Sheikh Jarrah and of Muslims under 50 barred from entering the Old City to worship at the Dome of the Rock. It’s great when journalists show the Muslims barred from worship–an angry-making fact of racial profiling in annexed East Jerusalem. I see that student Carolyn Phenicie also covers this ugly practice here, for Goldman’s class. Good work.

Related posts:

   1. Columbia Journalism School junket to Israel tunes out big story
   2. Weekly Sheikh Jarrah protest greeted with hostility in West Jerusalem, cheers in East Jerusalem
   3. AP covers the Israeli campaign against protest and dissent
   4. ‘Stop ethnic cleansing
   5. Columbia/Barnard Hillel Sponsors Israel’s Illegal Occupation



Gaza Gateway

Waiting for the Next Time- an Update on Students Seeking to Leave Gaza

      Between March 1 — March 5, 2010, the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt was open, and 4427 people passed through the crossing, including 461 students. Of these students, 100 were returned to Gaza by the Egyptians either because Egypt believed that they would seek to remain in Egypt, or because they were missing the requisite exit documents.
   2. According to the latest information, 502 students are presently seeking to leave the Gaza Strip in order to realize their dreams and study in universities abroad. Yet why do students in Gaza aspire to study outside the Strip? Among the reasons is the fact that in Gaza it is not possible to study certain fields, such as dentistry, occupational therapy, veterinary studies, environment preservation and democracy and human rights. In contrast, degrees in all these areas are available in the West Bank.
   3. Nevertheless, to the best of our knowledge, the number of students that have received permission from Israel to study in the West Bank since 2000 stands at zero. This is due to the imposition by Israel of a sweeping prohibition on students from Gaza traveling to the West Bank in order to study there. Therefore, students from Gaza (who are able) focus on studying at universities abroad.
   4. Since June 2007, Israel has imposed tight restrictions on the exit of students through the Erez border crossing, establishing strict criteria for the passage of students through Israel on their way to the Allenby border crossing (in Jordan) and from there to their studies overseas. As a result, students are forced to try and exit Gaza through the Rafah crossing.

The Rafah crossing (source-B'Tselem)

      The Rafah crossing (source-B'Tselem)

   5. Since June 2006 and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, the Rafah crossing has been officially closed and has been opened on an ad hoc and irregular basis. This is contrary to the Agreement on Movement and Access concluded in November 2005, according to which the Rafah crossing must be open to the movement of people between Gaza and Egypt.
   6. In total approximately 1600 people, including 502 students who are eager to start their studies abroad, were not able to exit Gaza via the Rafah crossing when it opened at the start of March. They are forced instead to wait until the next time the crossing is opened.
   7. Yet they have no way of knowing when the next time will arrive.
The Rafah crossing- a view from the Egyptian side (source- Oxfam)

The Rafah crossing- a view from the Egyptian side (source- Oxfam)



UC Berkeley SJP’s Urgent Plea

By Sana


Thank you so much to all of the people who joined us on Wednesday night to support the ASUC bill urging divestment from companies that directly fund Israel’s illegal occupation and war crimes (General Electric and United Technologies) , and to all who sent letters in support of the bill to senators these last couple of weeks. We could not have accomplished the 16-4 win without the massive support we received from the UC community and beyond.

Now, we need your help one last time to get this bill fully passed.

Tomorrow is the last day ASUC President Will Smelko can VETO this bill and we have believe he is considering such action.
We hope you can find one last surge of energy and put it toward emails to President Smelko. We know he is now receiving a large number of emails urging him to veto the bill. We NEED to counter this by showing him the great level of support behind the bill, which he could not have seen Wednesday as he was not present at the Senate meeting.

Please send an email to President Smelko and let him know that you support this bill and ask him not to veto it. Even a one-liner would help!

President Will Smelko’s email:

Read about the bill here.


Daily Star

UK's Galloway opens summer 'University of Palestine'

By Richard Hall

UK's Galloway opens summer 'University of Palestine'24-3-2010
BEIRUT: British MP George Galloway announced on Tuesday the foundation of the first annual University of Palestine, due to take place in Lebanon each year to educate Lebanese and international students on the Palestinian cause.

“We are going to bring 500 students from all over the world to study intensively for one week the Palestinian question: the history, the geography the culture and the politics. They will come from America, Australia and I hope from all over the world, with a substantial number from here in Lebanon,” Galloway said.

“We will make excursions to the border, to the Palestinian camps, to places of interest. We will hold lectures and workshops, sporting and cultural events,” he added.

The summer university will take place for one week each year at the campus of the Lebanese International University in the Bekaa Valley. Galloway said many prominent international speakers were expected to attend, such as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Naomi Klein, Fadwa Barghouti, the wife of jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, and Hizbullah spokesman Ibrahim Mousawi. The luminaries will give lectures, and “plan the next 12 months of solidarity with the Palestinian people,” according to Galloway.

Galloway also used the occasion to announce plans to break the blockade of Gaza later this year with a convoy of aid from Arab countries under the banner “Viva Palestina Arabiya.”

The convoy will travel by sea from Turkey to the port of Gaza, led by Arab countries but including aid contributions from Viva Palestina campaigns in Britain, Turkey, America and Australia.

“We are asking the Arab people to join us and see what they can do. We are appealing to the Arab world to act as their own public opinion,” Galloway said Tuesday.

Galloway’s Viva Palestina campaign has delivered several convoys of aid to the Gaza Strip since its first trip from Britain in March 2009, most of them traveling by land or air to Egypt where they then crossed to Gaza through the Erez checkpoint. The last convoy was denied entry to the enclave by Egyptian authorities, leading to violent clashes between participants and security forces.

“The ships will be loaded this time not with bread or medicine, which is all that has been allowed in across the land borders, as if the Palestinians in Gaza were animals in a zoo to be fed and kept alive; this time the ships will be loaded with building materials to rebuild houses,” said Galloway, adding that the convoy would travel under the patronage of Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Galloway stressed the importance of the Palestinian solidarity movement in taking action at a time when Israeli policies are damaging chances of peace in the region.

“It’s up to us to act, to capitalize on this moment. It’s up to Arabs to capitalize on this moment, especially those Arab countries with the closest ties with the United States,” he told The Daily Star.



Electronic Intifada

In Australia, a day of solidarity with Palestine

By Omar Hassan

Hundreds of activists occupy a major intersection in Melbourne in protest of Australian support for Israeli apartheid. (Omar Hassan)

In an important show of solidarity, 500 individuals participated in pro-Palestine activities on Friday 19 March in Melbourne, Australia, protesting against both the brutality of Israel's actions in recent weeks and the ongoing support of the Australian government for Israeli apartheid.

The day started off with a Students for Palestine forum at RMIT University discussing the reality of Israeli apartheid. At least 170 persons attended. In one of the emotional highpoints of the forum, one of the speakers read a quote from Desmond Tutu -- a leader of the anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa -- which argued that the situation in Palestine is worse than anything he saw in his struggle.

Not content to limit themselves to discussions amongst friends, the forum participants then marched down to the state library where they joined around 500 persons in a rally with the slogan "Break Ties with Apartheid Israel." As many of the speakers at the rally made clear, the Australian government has always been one of the staunchest allies of the Israeli state. One speaker after another denounced the Australian government for this slavish support for Israel.

Nazeem Hussain from the comedy duo Fear of a Brown Planet said: "The government that we voted in is one of the only countries in the world that votes alongside that terrorist nation. Australia and the US, in the last couple of weeks, didn't vote to investigate war crimes committed by Israel. Shame on Australia. Shame on this supposedly left-wing party of this great democratic nation."

Inaf Sammak from the Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth said: "Shame [Australian Prime Minister Kevin] Mr. Rudd. We demand that Australia cut ties with Israel -- apartheid Israel. We demand that the transgressions of the holy sites be condemned. We demand that the right of resistance of the Palestinian people be recognized. How can we remain silent while Palestinians fight?"

Just last year Julia Gillard, deputy prime minister of Australia, announced her total support for Israel in the midst of the slaughter of Gazan civilians, asserting that "Israel has the right to defend itself." One of the Palestinian speakers asked: "How can Australia remain silent while Jerusalem cries?" The hundreds of students and community supporters involved in the day of solidarity's actions are committed to campaign for Palestinian rights as long as long as is necessary, until the apartheid nature of the state of Israel is abolished and the Palestinian people receive justice.

Omar Hassan is a leading member of Students for Palestine in Australia


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