For years, some diplomatic missions in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) -- including East Jerusalem -- have sponsored, organized, or otherwise facilitated joint Palestinian-Israeli projects that obfuscate or altogether ignore the reality of Israeli colonial and racist policies against the people of Palestine. Regardless of intentions, such projects only serve to promote a false image of Israel as an “enlightened democracy,” rather than an occupying power that has for decades violated international law and basic human rights and pursued a criminal agenda of completing the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of Palestine, that started in the Nakba, through gradually and persistently destroying what remains of Palestinian society in the OPT and in Israel itself.
At a time when the international movement to isolate Israel is gaining ground in response to the escalation of Israel‘s apartheid policies, we at PACBI respectfully urge all diplomatic missions, particularly those based in Jerusalem, to refrain from supporting -- in any form -- Palestinian-Israeli encounters or joint projects that are not explicitly dedicated to ending Israel‘s illegal occupation and other forms of oppression. Such meetings and projects only contribute to the prolongation of injustice by normalizing and thereby legitimizing it, and inadvertently support Israel’s efforts to appear as a “normal” participant in the “civilized” world of science, scholarship and art irrespective of the fact that it is practicing a pernicious form of apartheid against Palestinians.
We also urge diplomatic missions to refrain from arranging visits to Palestinian institutions for international visitors who come primarily to Israel to participate in conferences, meetings, or festivals in mainstream institutions and venues there, virtually all of which are complicit in one way or another in maintaining the occupation and oppression. While Palestinians have always warmly welcomed solidarity visits by international delegations, most of us firmly believe that such solidarity visits should not be used as an occasion to give lectures at Israeli universities; organize performances, film screenings or exhibits in mainstream Israeli venues; collaborate in any way with Israeli political, cultural or academic institutions; or participate in activities sponsored or supported -- directly or indirectly -- by the Israeli government or any of its agencies.
Endorsed by an overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society , the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement believes that international relations with Israeli institutions that have not explicitly condemned occupation and oppression lend legitimacy to these institutions. Such institutions include all Israeli universities and major research centers, as well as the vast majority of cultural and artistic organizations.
Palestinian calls for boycott of Israel -- until it fully complies with its obligations under international law -- are inspired by South African anti-apartheid appeals of the not-so-distant past. South African anti-apartheid leaders were among the first to expose the underlying common denominators between the two systems of racial discrimination, even arguing that Israel’s apartheid is in many ways worse than the one that existed in South Africa, as UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the OPT, Prof. John Dugard, has stated. Indeed, Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians is three-tiered: military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the extensive colonization of the latter; denial of the UN-sanctioned rights of Palestinian refugees, including their right to return; and the system of racial discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel. This underlines the need for moral consistency from representatives of states that, through sustained sanctions, actively participated in bringing down apartheid in South Africa. We ask them to apply the same standards and not to make an exception for Israel.
 In July 2005, the first anniversary of the International Court of Justice‘s ruling on the illegality of the Wall and the occupation regime, more than 170 Palestinian civil society unions and organizations issued the Call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as a non-violent form of resisting Israel‘s oppression. The Call issued by PACBI for academic and cultural boycott of Israel has also received widespread support from federations of academics, professionals, writers and artists, and from civil society organizations in Palestine. See:
Posted on 16-06-2007