Academic institutions are a key part of the ideological and institutional scaffolding of Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid against the Palestinian people. Since its founding, the Israeli academy has cast its lot with the hegemonic political-military establishment in Israel, and notwithstanding the efforts of a handful of principled academics, the Israeli academy is profoundly implicated in supporting and perpetuating Israel’s systematic denial of Palestinian rights.
The institutional academic boycott that the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) is calling for has been endorsed by the Palestinian Council for Higher Education (CHE), is in line with the CHE’s authoritative call for "non-cooperation in the scientific and technical fields between Palestinian and Israeli universities," and is supported by the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE).
The BNC, through the PACBI guidelines presented below, upholds the universal right to academic freedom. The institutional boycott called for by Palestinian civil society does not conflict with such freedom. PACBI subscribes to the internationally-accepted definition of academic freedom as adopted by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (UNESCR).
Anchored in precepts of international law and universal human rights, the BDS movement, including PACBI, rejects on principle boycotts of individuals based on their identity (such as citizenship, race, gender, or religion) or opinion. If, however, an individual is representing the state of Israel or a complicit Israeli institution (such as a dean, rector, or president), or is commissioned/recruited to participate in Israel’s branding efforts, then her/his activities are subject to the institutional boycott the BDS movement is calling for.
Mere affiliation of Israeli scholars to an Israeli academic institution is therefore not grounds for applying the boycott.
While an individual’s academic freedom should be fully and consistently respected in the context of academic boycotts, an individual academic, Israeli or otherwise, cannot be exempt from being subject to “common sense” boycotts (beyond the scope of the PACBI institutional boycott criteria) that conscientious citizens around the world may call for in response to what they widely perceive as egregious individual complicity in, responsibility for, or advocacy of violations of international law (such as direct or indirect involvement in the commission of war crimes or other grave human rights violations; incitement to violence; racial slurs; etc.). At this level, Israeli academics should not be automatically exempted from due criticism or any lawful form of protest, including boycott; they should be treated like all other offenders in the same category, not better or worse. This is in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in which the BDS movement’s principles are based.
Academic Boycott Guidelines
These guidelines are mainly intended to assist conscientious academics and academic bodies around the world to be in harmony with the Palestinian call for boycott, as a contribution towards upholding international law and furthering the struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
As a general overriding rule, all Israeli academic institutions, unless proven otherwise, are subject to boycott because of their decades-old, ongoing, deep and conscious complicity in maintaining the Israeli occupation and denial of basic Palestinian rights. This complicity includes silence, actual involvement in justifying, whitewashing or otherwise deliberately diverting attention from Israel’s violations of international law and human rights, or direct collaboration with state agencies in the planning and implementation of projects that contravene such law and rights. Accordingly, these institutions, all their activities, and all the activities they sponsor or support must be boycotted. Projects with all Israeli academic institutions should come to an end, as was the case with all South African academic institutions under apartheid.
Based on the above, PACBI urges academics, academic associations/unions, and academic -- as well as other -- institutions around the world, where possible and as relevant, to boycott and/or work towards the cancellation or annulment of events, activities, agreements, or projects involving Israeli academic institutions or that otherwise promote the normalization of Israel in the global academy, whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights, or violate the BDS guidelines.
Specifically, the following events, activities, or situations are in violation of the Palestinian academic boycott and are, therefore, boycottable:
1. Academic events (such as conferences, symposia, workshops, book and museum exhibits) convened or co-sponsored by Israel, complicit Israeli institutions or their support and lobby groups in various countries. All such academic events, whether held in Israel or abroad, deserve to be boycotted on institutional grounds. These boycottable activities include panels and other activities sponsored or organized by Israeli academic bodies or associations at international conferences outside Israel. Importantly, they also include the convening in Israel of meetings of international bodies and associations.
The general principle is that an event or project carried out under the sponsorship/aegis of or in affiliation with or funding by an official Israeli body or a complicit institution (including lobby groups) constitutes complicity and therefore is deserving of boycott. The same may apply to support or sponsorship from non-Israeli institutions that serve Israeli propaganda purposes.
2. Research and development activities that fall into these broad categories:
(a) Among academic institutions – Institutional cooperation agreements with Israeli universities or research institutes. These agreements, concluded between international and Israeli academic institutions, typically involve the exchange of faculty and students and, more importantly, joint research.
(b) Among the Israeli government and other governments or foundations/institutions. Researchers in such projects could be based at U.S., European, Indian or other universities.
(c) Among corporations and academic institutions –Research and development activities on behalf of international corporations involving contracts or other institutional agreements with departments or centers at Israeli universities (See full guidelines for examples).
3. Funding from Israel or its lobby groups to academic activities/projects. All academic projects and activities funded, partially or fully, by Israel or any of its lobby groups are boycottable.
Note: Israeli academics are entitled, as taxpayers, to receive funding from their government or institution in support of academic activities, such as attendance of international conferences and other academic events, so long as this is not conditioned upon serving Israel’s policy interests in any way, such as public acknowledgement of this support by the organizers of the conference or activity/event. Mere affiliation of the academic to an Israeli institution does not subject the conference or activity to boycott.
4. Addresses and talks at international venues by Israeli state officials or official representatives of Israeli academic institutions such as presidents, rectors or deans.
5. Study abroad schemes in Israel for international students. Publicity and recruitment for these schemes through students’ affairs offices or academic departments (such as Middle East and international studies centers) at universities abroad should come to an end.
6. Special academic honors or recognition granted to Israeli officials, representatives of Israeli academic institutions (such as the bestowal of honorary degrees and other awards) or to Israeli academic or research institutions. Such institutions and their official representatives are complicit and as such should be denied this recognition.
7. Normalization Projects. Academic activities and projects involving Palestinians and/or other Arabs on one side and Israelis on the other (whether bi- or multi- lateral) that are based on the false premise of symmetry/parity between the oppressors and the oppressed or that claim that both colonizers and colonized are equally responsible for the “conflict” are forms of normalization that ought to be boycotted. Far from challenging the unjust status quo, such projects contribute to its endurance. Examples include events, projects, or publications that are designed explicitly to bring together Palestinians/Arabs and Israelis so they can present their respective narratives or perspectives, or to work toward reconciliation without addressing the root causes of injustice and the requirements of justice. Other factors that PACBI takes into consideration in evaluating such activities and projects are the sources of funding, the design of the project or event, the objectives of the sponsoring organization(s), the participants, and similar relevant factors.
Joint projects that meet the following two conditions are not considered forms of normalization and are therefore exempt from boycott:
(a) The Israeli party in the project recognizes the comprehensive Palestinian rights under international law (corresponding to the 3 rights in the BDS call); and
(b) The project/activity is one of “co-resistance” to the unjust order rather than co-existence.
Debates between Palestinians/Arabs and Israelis are excluded from the boycott if organized without cooperation with Israel, its lobby groups, or its complicit institutions.
Conditioning support for Palestinian academic institutions on their “partnership” with Israeli institutions is also a coercive form of normalization that is rejected by the BNC, including PACBI and the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE).
International academics who insist on crossing the BDS “picket line” by pursuing activities with boycottable Israeli institutions and then visiting Palestinian institutions or groups for “balance,” violate the boycott guidelines. The BNC (including PACBI) rejects this attempt at “fig-leafing.”
8. Institutional membership of Israeli associations in world bodies. Such membership should come to an end.
9. Publishing in or refereeing articles for academic journals based at Israeli universities or published in collaboration with Israeli institutions, or granting permission to reprint material published elsewhere in such Israel-based journals. These journals include those published by international associations but housed at Israeli universities. Re-locating the editorial offices of these journals to universities outside Israel should be considered.
10. Serving as external reviewers for dissertations, writing recommendations or other forms of refereeing such as advising on hiring, promotion, tenure, and grant-making decisions at Israeli universities. International academics who choose to review the academic work of faculty or students at Israeli universities on a personal basis are not conflicting with the boycott guidelines, so long as their names are not used by those universities in any way (to gain legitimacy). Accepting to be on a dissertation, referee or review committee appointed by or serving an Israeli university, however, directly conflicts with the institutional boycott of these universities, as it legitimates Israel’s academic standing around the world. The boycott also applies to writing tenure or promotion recommendations directly addressed to university administrators. Furthermore, international faculty should not write recommendations for international students hoping to pursue studies in Israel, as this facilitates the violation of guideline 11 below.
11. International students enrolling in or international faculty teaching or conducting research at degree or non-degree programs at an Israeli institution. If conducting research at Israeli facilities such as archives does not entail official affiliation with those facilities (e.g. a visiting position), then the activity is not subject to boycott.
12. All academic visits or fact-finding missions that receive funding from Israel, its complicit institutions or its international lobby groups. On the other hand, balanced, independent fact-finding missions, even those that include meetings with complicit Israeli academic institutions, are not boycottable, provided that no institutional link (e.g., seminars, workshops, exhibits, etc.) of any sort is established with Israeli institutions.
The institutional boycott of Israeli academic institutions should continue until these institutions fulfill two basic conditions:
a. Recognize the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people as enshrined in international law (including the three basic rights outlined in the 2005 BDS Call) and
b. End all forms of complicity in violating Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law. This complicity includes discriminatory policies and practices as well as diverse roles in planning, implementing and/or justifying Israel’s human rights abuses and violations of international law.
Posted on 22-11-2014