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PACBI-Appeal to Trilok Gurtu

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The Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel | 4 January 2011

Appeal to Trilok Gurtu

Dear Mr Trilok Gurtu,

We, a group of academics, activists and artists in India, came together in June 2010 to campaign against yet another apartheid regime by extending support to the international campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

We understand that you are scheduled to perform at the Red Sea Jazz Festival at Eilat in Israel on the 22nd of January 2011. As a person of conscience and as a sensitive artist, we appeal to you to cancel your scheduled performance and join us in the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. Below, we explain the reasons for why we call on you to make this admittedly painful decision.

Israeli goals in the occupied territories have always aimed at possession and absorption of these lands. Based on its Zionist ideology, Israel has, since its inception as a state, denied responsibility for inflicting the Nakba – or catastrophe -- on the people of Palestine. Israel has denied the waves of ethnic cleansing and dispossession that created the Palestinian refugee problem. Israel has also refused to accept the inalienable rights of the refugees and the displaced to return, a right stipulated in and protected by international law. Moreover, Israel has militarily occupied and colonized the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza since 1967, in violation of international law and UN resolutions. Not only does Israel refuse to cede the occupied territories, it also has instituted a system of apartheid in the occupied territories, and created an entrenched system of racial discrimination and segregation against the Palestinian citizens of Israel. It has also set up innumerable settler colonies, again in violation of international law. A wall is being constructed through the occupied territories -- resulting in bantulands for the Palestinian people.

Israeli academic institutions (mostly state controlled), and the vast majority of Israeli intellectuals and academics, have either contributed directly to maintaining, defending or otherwise justifying these various forms of oppression; or have been complicit in them through their silence. All forms of international intervention have failed until now to force Israel to comply with international law or to end its repression of the Palestinians. Instead, Palestinians are subjected to a state of siege, indiscriminate killing, wanton destruction and the racist colonial Wall. As the eminent Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has observed, under the leadership of Israel’s most recent Prime Ministers, the occupation has become “a horror story of abuse and callousness... The trend is for worse to come, with a sense of an Israeli government that feels it has a 'green light’ from the United States to do whatever it wishes in the occupied territories.” These Israeli leaders have been put into power by an overwhelming majority of Israelis. Such an electoral history indicates that the majority of Israelis are either unwilling or unable to understand the real origins of their insecurity, and the fact that the nature of the occupation contributes to their fears.

Under these circumstances, pressure from the outside is the only viable way to push for change in Israel. We believe the strategy should be that of a grassroots, international movement to boycott Israel at all possible levels: economic, cultural and academic. With this aim, a group of Palestinian academics, activists, and intellectuals in Ramallah launched the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel in April 2004. In July 2004, the Campaign issued a Call for Boycott addressed to the international community, urging it to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions until Israel withdraws from all the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; removes all its colonies in those lands; agrees to United Nations resolutions relevant to the restitution of Palestinian refugees’ rights; and dismantles its system of apartheid.

The Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) was issued on July 9, 2005, one year after the historic Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), declared that Israel's Wall built on occupied Palestinian territory was illegal. Palestinian civil society called upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel, similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era -- until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination, and complies with international law. BDS has been endorsed by over 170 Palestinian parties, organizations, trade unions and movements representing the Palestinian people in the 1967 and 1948 territories and in the diaspora. On July 13, 2005 the UN International Civil Society Conference adopted the Palestinian Call for BDS.

Now we, supporters of the Palestinian struggle in India and South Asia, call upon civil society in our region to support the Palestinian right to resist, without violence, an illegal occupation. The BDS position is a morally sound and effective means of struggle that challenges the world to force Israeli compliance with international law.

In the spirit of international solidarity and resistance to injustice and oppression, we call upon our colleagues in the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions by applying the following:

  1.  Refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions;
  2. 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;
  3. Promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions;
  4. Work toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations;
  5. Support Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.
  6. We urge the Indian government to forthwith cease all trade and military ties with Israel. We also urge all Indian Universities and research institutions to join the boycott.

History shows us that boycotts and sanctions can be effective. The most obvious example of the effectiveness of BDS campaigns is South Africa. After calling for boycott and sanctions against Israel in 2002, the South African Minister for Intelligence Services, Ronnie Kasrils, stated: “We in South Africa know about racial oppression. We fought it and defeated it because it was unjust… South Africa is an example of what is possible”.

The Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel:

  1.  Vina Mazumdar (Patron)
  2. Ayesha Kidwai (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Convenor)
  3. Mohan Rao (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Convenor)
  4. Gargi Sen (Filmmaker, Convener)
  5. Janaki Abraham (Delhi University)
  6. Ayisha Abraham (Artist)
  7. Dinesh Abrol (Scientist, NISTADS)
  8. Aijaz Ahmad (New Delhi)
  9. S. Anand (Publisher)
  10. G. Arunima (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  11. Upendra Baxi (Delhi University)
  12. Pushpa M. Bhargava (Scientist)
  13. Ira Bhaskar (Film maker)
  14. Prashant Bhushan (Lawyer)
  15. Praful Bidwai (Journalist)
  16. Uma Chakravarthy (Delhi University)
  17. Anand Chakravarthy (Delhi University)
  18. C.P. Chandrasekhar (JNU)
  19. Indira Chandrasekhar (Publisher)
  20. Kamal Mitra Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  21. Anuradha Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  22. Rohan D’Souza (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  23. Satish Deshpande (Delhi University)
  24. Shashi Deshpande (Writer)
  25. Vasanthi Devi (Former Vice-Chancellor, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tamilnadu)
  26. Jayati Ghosh (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  27. Githa Hariharan (Writer)
  28. Saba Hasan (Artist)
  29. Zoya Hasan (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  30. Moloyshree Hashmi (Theatreperson)
  31. Mushirul Hassan (Former Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia)
  32. T. Jayraman (Tata Institute of Social Studies)
  33. Mary John (Centre for Women’s Development Studies)
  34. Amita Kanekar (Writer)
  35. Kalpana Kannabiran (Hyderabad University)
  36. Geeta Kapoor ( Art Critic)
  37. Nuzhat Kazmi (Jamia Millia Islamia)
  38. Farida Khan (Jamia Millia Islamia)
  39. Romi Khosla (Architect)
  40. Brijesh Kumar (Theatreperson)
  41. Ein Lall (Filmmaker)
  42. S.N. Malakar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  43. Rita Manchanda (South Asia Forum for Human Rights, Kathmandu)
  44. Harsh Mander (Centre for Equity Studies, New Delhi)
  45. Satyajit Mayor (Scientist)
  46. Meena Menon (Writer, Focus on Global South)
  47. Nivedita Menon (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  48. Ritu Menon (Publisher)
  49. A.K.G. Menon (Architect)
  50. Saeed Mirza (Filmmaker)
  51. Jeroo Mulla (Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai)
  52. Seema Mustafa (Journalist)
  53. Gautam Navlakha (Economic and Political Weekly)
  54. Aditya Nigam (Centre for the Study of Developing Studies, Delhi)
  55. Rajni Palriwala (Delhi University)
  56. Prabhat Patnaik (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  57. Anand Patwardhan (Filmmaker)
  58. Pamela Philippose (Journalist)
  59. Prabir Purkayastha (Engineer)
  60. N. Pushpamala (Artist)
  61. Imrana Qadeer (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  62. D. Raghunandan (Delhi Science Forum)
  63. Alok Rai (Delhi University)
  64. M.K. Raina (Theatreperson)
  65. R. Ramachandran (Journalist)
  66. Vidya Rao (Editor, Singer)
  67. Arundhati Roy (Writer)
  68. Rahul Roy (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)
  69. Kalpana Sachidanandan ( Writer)
  70. Madhu Sahni (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  71. Sumit Sarkar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  72. Tanika Sarkar (Delhi University)
  73. Amit Sengupta (Journalist)
  74. Amit Sengupta (Delhi Science Forum)
  75. Y.C Subrahmanya (Technologist)
  76. Lakshmi Subramaniam (Jamia Millia Islamia)
  77. Vivan Sundaram (Artist)
  78. Nandini Sundar (Delhi University)
  79. Achin Vanaik (Delhi University)
  80. Vikram Vyas (Delhi University)

* For more information on the Palestinian National Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee (BNC), the Palestinian Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and the global BDS movement see:
For more information on the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and its Call for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, see:

Posted on 04-01-2011

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