December 27, 2009 marks the one-year anniversary of the beginning of ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ Israel’s 22-day assault on the captive population of Gaza, which killed 1400 people, one third of them children, and injured more than 5300. During this war on an impoverished, mostly refugee population, Israel targeted civilians, using internationally proscribed white phosphorous bombs, deprived them of power, water and other essentials, and sought to destroy the infrastructure of Palestinian civil society, including hospitals, administrative buildings and UN facilities. It targeted with peculiar consistency educational institutions of all kinds: the Islamic University of Gaza, the Ministry of Education, the American International School, at least ten UNRWA schools, one of which was sheltering internally displaced Palestinian civilians with nowhere to flee, and tens of other schools and educational facilities.
While world leaders have tragically failed to come to Gaza’s help, civilians everywhere are rallying to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people, with anniversary vigils taking place this week in New York, Washington DC, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, and many more cities and towns in the US and world-wide.
The United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was formed in the immediate aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, bringing together educators of conscience who were unable to stand by and watch in silence Israel’s indiscriminate assault on the Gaza Strip and its educational institutions. Today, over 500 US-based academics, authors, artists, musicians, poets, and other arts professionals have endorsed our call. Our academic endorsers include postcolonial critics and transnational feminists Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Indigenous scholars J. Kēhaulani Kauanui and Andrea Smith, philosopher Judith Butler, Black studies scholars Cedric Robinson, Fred Moten, evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers, and intellectual historian Joseph Massad.
“Cultural workers” who have endorsed our call include well-known author Barbara Ehrenreich, Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunimah, poets Adrienne Rich and Lisa Suhair Majjaj, ISM co-founder and documentary film-maker Adam Shapiro, Jordan Flaherty of Left Turn Magazine, and Adrienne Maree Brown, of the Ruckus Society.
Among the 34 organizations supporting our mission are and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the Green Party, Code Pink, INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, .Artists Against Apartheid, and Teachers Against the Occupation.
The Advisory Board of the United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) has grown to include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Hamid Dabashi, Lawrence Davidson, Bill Fletcher Jr., Glen Ford, Mark Gonzales, Marilyn Hacker, Edward Herman, Annemarie Jacir, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Robin Kelley, Ilan Pappe, James Petras, Vijay Prashad, Andrenne Rich, Michel Shehadeh, and Lisa Taraki.
Israeli academics, listed among the organization’s International Endorsers, have also joined us, including Emmanuel Farjoun, Hebrew University; Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv University; Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University; Kobi Snitz, Technion; and Ilan Pappe now at Exeter.
The USACBI Mission Statement calls for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions in support of an appeal by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Individual Israelis are not targeted by the boycott.
Specifically, supporters are asked to:
- Refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions that do not vocally oppose Israeli state policies against Palestine;
- Advocate a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions at the national and international levels, including suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions;
- Promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions;
- Work toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations;
- Support Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.
This boycott, modeled upon the global BDS movement that put an end to South African apartheid, is to continue until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:
- Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
- Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
- Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.