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The Palestinian BDS National Committee website
Updated: 1 day 19 hours ago

SOAS vote for the Academic Boycott of Israel – stand on the right side of history

Mon, 23/02/2015 - 1:04pm

We the undersigned Palestinian student and academic unions, with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), strongly urge all the University of London, SOAS community to vote for the institutional academic boycott of Israel in the campus wide referendum taking place 23-27 February. We take this opportunity to salute all campaigners who have worked tirelessly to promote the Yes vote and explain to the wider student, faculty and staff body both the necessity and urgency of a boycott of Israel’s academic institutions.

We who endure the brunt of Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid policies in the academic sector can attest not only to  Israel’s deliberate, decades-long policies of stifling Palestinian academic life and repressing Palestinian academic freedom, but also to the deep complicity of Israel’s academic institutions in planning, implementing and whitewashing this regime of oppression.

During Israel’s latest military assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014, that left entire neighbourhoods levelled to the ground, destroyed schools, university buildings and UN shelters, as well as killed more than 2,168 Palestinians and injured over 10,895 people, Israel’s academic institutions came out in support of the Israeli military while it deliberately bombed universities and other civilian infrastructure in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip.

Hebrew University specifically, with whom SOAS has an institutional link, is partially built on stolen Palestinian land and has an army base on its campus; its complicity in Israeli violations of international law are well documented. Hebrew University stood by the Israeli army during the attack on Gaza; a notice circulated at the university announced a collection of goods including hygiene products, snacks and cigarettes “for the [Israeli] soldiers at the front according to the demand reported by the IDF [Israeli army] units.” Hebrew University maintains close ties to the Israeli military industry and collaborates with the Israeli army in training officers and recruits. Further, staff from the Hebrew University take part in the supervision and promotion committees of students and staff at the colony-college of Ariel, which was established on confiscated Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. These are only some of the most obvious reasons that the SOAS community should vote for ending such tainted collaborations with Hebrew University.

We restate that our call for an academic boycott is an institutional one. It targets the privileged status of Israel’s academic institutions and the image of normality they project while being deeply complicit in a colonial context built on the subjugation of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian academic boycott against Israel does not target individuals, so it clearly does not target the very few courageous Israeli academics that have come out in support of Palestinian rights. On the contrary, we strongly support their academic freedom and stand against the censorship and intimidation they face from their own institutions when they express dissenting views that support Palestinian rights, let alone any form of boycott to achieve those rights.

We are thankful to all campaigners who opened up this important discussion and debate at University of London, SOAS. While opponents of the academic boycott of Israel’s institutions often complain that it infringes on open dialogue, in reality it is clear that such referendums open up space for debate on a topic often side-lined and silenced on university campuses. We know that the wider SOAS community has a long history of backing Palestinian rights, including one of the first positive votes in a UK student union in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). The first conference calling for the academic boycott of Israel was held at SOAS in 2004. We are happy to see the continuation of this tradition with dynamic, practical and effective campaigns.

Finally, we reiterate that Israel’s academic institutions, far from being “bastions of liberalism,” are a pillar of Israel’s system of colonial oppression. The least that people of conscience can do to support our struggle for freedom, justice and equality is to end all complicity in these institutions’ role in our oppression.

We strongly urge the SAOS community to vote Yes to end such complicity and to stand on the right side of history, as was done against apartheid South Africa.

Sincerely,

  • Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)
  • Palestinian Federation of University Unions of Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)
  • University Teachers’ Society in Palestine (UTSP)
  • Abnaa el Balad Student Movement
  • Almubadara Youth
  • Al-Najah National University student union
  • Alquds University Student Union
  • Arab American University Student Union
  • Beirziet University Student Union
  • Bethlehem University Student Union
  • Fateh Youth and Student Movement
  • Hebron University Student Union
  • NDA Student Movement
  • Palestine Polytechnic University Student Union
  • Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
  • Palestinian Youth Struggle Union
  • Palestinian Democratic Youth Union
  • Palestinian Students’ Liberation Front
  • Student Department of CPI (Communist Party of Israel) & DFPE (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality)
  • Student’s Struggle Block
  • Students Unions in Alquds open university in the following branches : Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Ramallah, Nablus, Salfeet, Toubas, Qalqilia, Jenin, Toulkarem, Bedia, Doura, Yata, Biet Sahour, Alezarieh,

 

Palestinian civil society letter to the people of Greece following the victory of Syriza

Mon, 09/02/2015 - 1:11pm

Occupied Palestine, February 9 2014

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations that works to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is following with solidarity the latest developments in Greece and want to congratulate Syriza for the victory in the recent elections.

The Greek people have made a choice not to accept foreign domination over their own decisions. We admire their courage and determination to vote for an end to EU-imposed policies of austerity and to defend their dignity and rights.

For the Palestinian people, the election of the Greek government sparks new hope because we know that among the fundamental principles and projects of Syriza stands solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice, freedom and return.

The party and its members have been active in and supportive of solidarity movements and popular initiatives with our cause within Greece throughout Syriza’s history.

Already in 2012 Syriza has included the call for an end to all military cooperation with Israel in its program. This move supports the ever-growing popular movements for the implementation of the Palestinian call for military embargo against Israel. Slowly this call finds echoes as well in the corridors of power. We have a common interest in this: the costly arms deals and cooperation with Israel weighs on the Greek budget just as it fuels Israeli wars against our people by creating profits for weapons and technology tested upon the Palestinian people. The latest massacre in Gaza in July/August 2014 that killed over 2,200 people and left the besieged Strip even more in shatters than before, was just the latest show that Israel’s crimes won’t end as long as its ability to act with impunity remains.

As part of the parliamentary processes, Syriza members have repeatedly stood up for Palestine and for military and economic sanctions against Israeli occupation, colonialism and apartheid. Syriza MPs have been part of the Gaza Flotillas that have attempted to break the illegal Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. Last year Syriza MPs started opposition to the negotiations for the purchase of Israeli Airspace Industries Heron drones on the grounds that the would finance Israeli war economy and strengthen the militarization of Greek borders and xenophobic anti-immigration policies. Syriza’s members of the European Parliament have supported the recent call for an immediate end to the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

Syriza has set out to introduce a new model of politics to Europe based on the rights, needs, solidarity and demands of the people and we trust we can continue this path together with you. It is not an easy task but if you succeed to translate your principles into practice we will all win.

Our solidarity and best wishes,

Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee – BNC

Palestinian civil society condemns Canadian government disinformation and repression against boycott movement

Thu, 05/02/2015 - 1:33am

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations that leads the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, has condemned the Canadian government’s ramped up disinformation campaign and repressive measures against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

BDS is a global, Palestinian-led nonviolent human rights movement that aims to apply pressure on Israel, as was done on apartheid South Africa, to fully comply with its obligations under international law.

Canada and Israel signed a series of cooperation agreements recently, one of which included an unprecedented commitment to work jointly to counter the continued growth of BDS.

On January 22, Canadian public safety minister Steven Blaney gave a speech at a meeting on anti-semitism at the United Nations General Assembly, convened in the wake of the Paris criminal attacks, that smeared the BDS movement as “anti-semitic.”

Rafeef Ziadah, a secretariat member of the the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations that leads the BDS movement, said:

“Rather than seeking to hold Israel to account for its war crimes during the recent military assault on Gaza and its intensified colonization of the occupied West Bank, particularly in Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, the Canadian government is further deepening its collaboration with Israel’s occupation and launching a shameful, propagandistic attack on free speech in the process.”

“The Canadian government’s continued unconditional support for Israel’s colonial policies and its smear campaign against BDS highlight the deeply ideological and reactionary character of this government. Canada is sending Israel the message that it can act with total impunity in violating human rights and international law.”

“Sadly, while claiming to defend free speech the current Canadian government is among the most repressive in the west; it has gone farther than most in suppressing free speech and infringing the rights of its own civil society, including trade unions, community and faith groups, to participate in human rights campaigning, as in boycotts against Israel’s injustices.”

As a matter of principle, the BDS movement has consistently and categorically opposed all forms of racism, including anti-semitism and Islamophobia. The movement’s anti-racist, human rights platform is growing into the western mainstream and attracting growing support among Canadians, including many Jewish Canadians who join conscientious and progressive Jewish Israelis in rejecting Israel’s claim to commit its atrocities in their name.

In her 2009 article endorsing BDS against Israel’s regime of occupation and oppression, the world best-selling author Naomi Klein wrote:

“It’s time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.”

The award-winning Canadian filmmaker John Greyson, who has produced some of the BDS movement’s most creative videos, has justified his support for BDS and boycott of the Tel Aviv queer film festival saying: “[BDS] is the only peaceful means right now that can have an effect on the Israeli state that has gone completely out of control. … A line in the sand has been drawn.”

South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, a great supporter of the BDS movement, after presenting a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council about an Israeli war crime in the occupied Gaza Strip in 2008 said:

“I think the West, quite rightly, is feeling contrite, penitent for its awful connivance with the Holocaust … . The West is penitent, the penance is being paid by the Palestinians. … I just hope that ordinary citizens in the West will wake up and say, ‘we refuse to be part of this’.”

Rafeef Ziadah concluded, “At a time when people of conscience the world over are joining the Palestinian BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality and connecting it with their own struggles for social and economic justice, equal rights, indigenous rights, minority rights, and environmental protection, the Canadian government is standing on the wrong side of history, supporting a pernicious regime of Israeli occupation, colonialism and apartheid.”

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