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PACBI-Academic Boycott Grows in May 2014

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PACBI | 4 June 2014

Academic Boycott Grows in May 2014

In 2012, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) called on its supporters world-wide to


intensify all aspects of BDS, but to especially focus, whenever possible, on academic boycott. Specifically, we call on faculty and student activists to pressure their academic organizations to end collaboration with complicit Israeli academic institutions or organizations, and not to organize or participate in conferences in Israel. Furthermore, we appeal to academics not to publish in Israeli academic journals and to withdraw from editorial boards of international journals based at Israeli universities. We also urge academics and students to oppose study-abroad programs that place students from the US and Europe at Israeli universities.  


One and a half years later, the Association for Humanist Sociology and the Association for Asian American Studies passed resolutions endorsing a full academic boycott of Israel.  Less than two years after the 2012 statement, four other U.S. academic associations had passed resolutions or shown unwavering support for BDS, these being the Critical Ethnic Studies Association (CESA), the Arab American Studies Association (AASA), Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA), and the American Studies Association (ASA).  In addition, at least one university department, the University of Hawai’i Ethnic Studies department, came out officially in support of BDS.  The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) led that direction in the US.


Just recently, over 700 academics appealed to participants of a Film Studies conference and an Oral history conference both taking place in Israel.  Those appeals resulted in cancellations from major participants of the Film studies conference and the loss of Alessandro Portelli as Keynote speaker in the Oral History conference [1].


Student councils on campuses across the US, Britain, Ireland, Spain, Norway, South Africa, among others, have taken to heart the BDS movement’s message and succeeded in passing BDS-related resolutions, mostly divestment from companies involved in the occupation, despite unprecedented bullying and smearing from Israel and its well-oiled lobby groups.


Faculty and student activists around the world have played a key role in expanding the scope of campus-based boycott initiatives especially in the US, Britain, Spain and Norway. In comparison to previous years, where the BDS movement witnessed one to two academic boycott initiatives per year, there has been an exponential increase in the last two years.  The month of May 2014 alone has seen a vibrant display of action and success in the realm of academic boycott.  These are:


-       In the UK, the National Union of Students (NUS) Black Students' Conference [2] adopted a motion in support of BDS.  The Black Students campaign, is a self-organised autonomous section of the NUS, and "represents the largest constituency of Black students in Europe and students of African, Asian, Arab and Caribbean descent, at a local and national level on all issues affecting Black students" [3].


-       In California, the student government of the University of California at Santa Cruz passed a divestment resolution, the fifth of nine campuses of the UC system to do so.  This comes after a defeat on that campus a year ago and shows the changing tide and growing support for BDS on American college campuses [4].  The UC Santa Cruz motion passed despite bullying and fear tactics by Zionist groups and an intensifying anti-BDS campaign funded, promoted, and supported by the Israeli government and its lobby groups.


-       In Chicago, students at DePaul University, the largest Catholic university in the US, passed a resolution in similar conditions of fear and intimidation from Zionist groups.  Students voted by 1,575 to 1,333 (54% to 46%) in favor of a referendum calling for divestment from companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Caterpillar for their complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights [5].


-       In Connecticut, Wesleyan University students also voted to support divestment from companies profiting from Israeli military occupation in Palestine.  This motion goes beyond the symbolic initiative as “the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) holds a separate endowment that will soon be divested from companies implicated in the Israeli occupation” [6]. 


-       In Florida, the University of South Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine gathered an unprecedented 10,000 signatures for a petition calling for divestment.  The petition is the largest student petition in Florida history [7]


-       In the autonomous region of Catalonia in the Spanish State, a campaign for academic boycott has attracted the backing of over 800 academics, students and university staff [8].  In addition, activists forced the Secretariat for Universities and Research in Catalonia to examine campaigner’s proposals aimed at ensuring the new deals for academic collaboration with Israel do not benefit institutions and companies that participate in Israel’s occupation. [9]


Each month, academic boycott initiatives and successes increase, forcing the Israeli academic establishment and the Israeli regime at large into a panic and propelling them to high alert.  BDS has been deemed one of the biggest strategic threats to Israel [10], and the government has called for allocating millions of dollars to combat the movement.  The BDS movement and its global activists and organizational partners, however, are unperturbed, and as we show above, have doubled their efforts and propelled their energies.  We have reached a tipping point, the taboos are breaking, and fear is dissipating.  All of Israel’s resources cannot stop the march towards freedom, justice and equality by a movement that relies on conscientious citizens of the world.















Posted on 04-06-2014

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