Archive for the Zionism Category

Towards accountability: John Dugard interviewed

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on October 9, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 5 October 2010

Last month, Professor John Dugard, former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, chaired a meeting on universal Jurisdiction in the Hague. The Electronic Intifada contributor Adri Nieuwhof interviewed Dugard about means of bringing Israel to account for its human rights violations, particularly the legal mechanism of universal jurisdiction.

Adri Nieuwhof: Can you explain the principle of universal jurisdiction?

John Dugard: Essentially, universal jurisdiction means that a state has the power to exercise jurisdiction over serious crimes under international law that were committed outside the boundaries of the state by non-nationals. Normally states have only jurisdiction over crimes in their territory by their nationals.

AN: Do states have responsibility towards exercising universal jurisdiction?

JD: Yes, if states are serious about suppressing international crime and preventing impunity, then there is an obligation to exercise universal jurisdiction. It is important to realize that the International Criminal Court in The Hague has limited universal jurisdiction. If impunity is to be avoided, states will have the obligation to prosecute international crimes themselves.

AN: Can you specify what this obligation of states implies?

JD: They have to institute criminal procedures against persons suspected of international crimes, to investigate and to bring the suspects before their court.

AN: You spoke at the meeting about selectivity in implementing universal jurisdiction. Can you clarify this?

JD: Universal jurisdiction is not very effective at present. There are practical difficulties involved, in particular, the collection of evidence. For example, if the Netherlands prosecuted serious crimes committed in Rwanda, it will have to collect evidence in Rwanda. There is no political will on the part of states to exercise universal jurisdiction, particularly where it concerns Israeli officials. When attempts are made to exercise universal jurisdiction over Israeli officials obstacles are raised by governments or courts find some technical reasons for not exercising universal jurisdiction.

AN: Is there a reason behind this selectivity in universal jurisdiction?

JD: European and American states are reluctant to undermine their relations with Israel.

AN: What needs to be done to reverse this selectivity? Is there a role for civil society?

JD: Civil society can always bring pressure on governments to exercise criminal jurisdiction. It has a role to play in changing public opinion. It will mean that courts will start to exercise universal jurisdiction.

AN: Israel increasingly oppresses human rights defenders and activists campaigning for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). Can you comment on this development?

JD: It is unfortunate. Israel has been relatively tolerant of dissent in its society. It indicates a new repressive tendency of Israeli society. The effect will be stifled dissent in Israeli society.

AN: Can you comment on the imprisonment of civil society leader and Palestinian citizen of Israel Ameer Makhoul and the reports that he was tortured during the interrogations?

JD: My difficulty is that I have not been in Israel since 2007. I cannot comment on Israel. In the past there were frequent allegations of torture by Israeli human rights activists. That is serious. I am out of touch with recent developments.

AN: Israeli accuses the BDS movement of delegitimizing Israel. What is your reaction to this accusation?

JD: The BDS actions are delegitimizing Israel. There is no question about that. Obviously Israel is unwilling to accept that, similar to apartheid South Africa, which did want to suppress international sanctions. BDS was at that time effective, largely as a result of international advocacy for [boycott, divestment and] sanctions. It delegitimized the state and ultimately led to change in South Africa.

The comparison between Israel and South Africa is important. The situation is very similar at present. The international community is increasingly critical of Israel, advocating for international [boycott, divestment and] sanctions. It is not surprising that Israel is taking steps to prevent them in the same way the South African government did.

Adri Nieuwhof is a consultant and human rights advocate based in Switzerland.

Propaganda and Israel/Palestine: The War is On

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on October 9, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Poor CAMERA…so victimized, so lonely. Tell the President and Provost of Boston University you are alarmed that they are welcoming a group of apologists for Israeli war crimes!

Is boycotting Israel anti-Semitic?

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on October 9, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Sherry Wolf, a member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, responds to claims from supporters of Zionism that criticism of Israel–and in particular, the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against it–is “anti-Semitic.”

October 7, 2010

ISRAEL’S SUPPORTERS wield the accusation that Palestine solidarity activists who support a boycott of Israel are guilty of anti-Semitism.

Sherry Wolf Sherry Wolf is the author of Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics and Theory of LGBT Liberation and an associate editor of the International Socialist Review. Her writing has also appeared in the Nation, CounterPunch and New Politics. She was on the executive committee of the 2009 National Equality March.

Because this charge is so repugnant to progressives, as Zionists are all too aware, it can have the effect of shutting down any debate about Israel’s crimes. In particular, the charge is leveled at the global movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, which seeks a campaign until Israel “meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with international law,” as stated in the BDS call to action.

The outlandish charges by Israel’s defenders against pro-Palestine activists reach the heights of hysteria on Web sites like, which falsely poses as “The official boycott Israel site” and is headlined, “The real Palestine story is just anti-Semitism re-branded–instigated and supported by the storm troopers of our time.”

There you have it. According to them, support for a boycott of Israel, which acts in open defiance of international laws and any unbiased person’s moral code, is nouveau-Nazism.

This accusation is not simply an odious lie, it is an attempt to manipulate hatred of anti-Semitism to draw attention away from the ongoing Israeli crimes of dispossession, systematic racism, collective punishment and wholesale warfare on a population guilty of nothing other than their own existence.

It is an old debaters’ ruse that when you don’t have the facts on your side, change the subject. That’s what the charge of anti-Semitism is really all about.

When Zionists claim that acts of anti-Semitism, which are on the rise in some places, are the result of the BDS movement, activists must confidently confront them with reality. The BDS movement has always condemned anti-Semitism in all its forms, and none of its materials nor actions make appeals to anti-Jewish sentiment.

Omar Barghouti, a BDS movement leader, visited Rome last spring, and this is how journalist Max Blumenthal reported on his response to this mischaracterization of the boycott campaign:

Regarding the accusation of anti-Semitism frequently leveled at BDS, he replied that such an accusation is in itself anti-Semitic, inasmuch as it creates an equivalence between all Jews and Israeli policies, implying that Jews are monolithic, and that all Jews should be held responsible for Israel’s actions.

Such generalizations and the idea of collective Jewish responsibility are fundamentally anti-Semitic. He called upon Europeans to stop assuaging their Holocaust guilt by oppressing the victims of the victims of the Holocaust.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

KNOWING THE history of Palestinian oppression is indispensable in combating this myth.

The expulsion in 1948 of nearly 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland as part of a colonial-settler project undertaken by Zionists and supported by the United States is an uncontestable point of history, about which anyone is welcome to their own opinion, but not their own version of the facts. It happened.

As Israeli-born Jewish historian Ilan Pappé writes in A History of Modern Palestine:

Out of about 850,000 Palestinians living in the territories designated by the UN as a Jewish state, only 160,000 remained [by 1949] on or nearby their land and homes. Those who remained became the Palestinian minority in Israel. The rest were expelled or fled under the threat of expulsion, and a few thousand died in massacres.

Palestinians were driven from their land, some by the self-described terrorists of the Zionist Irgun and Stern Gang. Today, most of the world’s Palestinian population lives in exile outside of Israel and in the Palestine Occupied Territories, with no right to return to the land of their ancestors. This refusal of return is in stark contrast to the Law of Return that virtually guarantees citizenship to Jews from around the world–even if they have no family there, have never before visited, nor speak the Hebrew language.

The horrifying conditions of malnutrition, mass unemployment and wholesale deprivation in the Gaza Strip are often detailed by, as are the atrocious facts of life for those Arabs living in the West Bank, where hundreds of miles of separation walls with militarized checkpoints confine the daily lives of every Palestinian.

But less is written about Palestinian citizens of Israel–those who live outside of the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza, but inside the borders of Israel–who live under a separate set of laws. That is, they live under apartheid conditions. If not for the horrors of the Holocaust, most people would readily agree that a nation with privileges and rights for one ethnic group and not the others is racist. By any objective measure, Israel is, in fact, a racist state.

For example, all residents of Israel must register their ethnicity–Jewish, Arab, Druze–because different rights accrue to different peoples, and all must carry identity cards that have this information at all times. Non-Jews of Israel, of whom there are more than 1 million, are treated more like residents without a nationality or equal rights.

This became shockingly clear in July when a Palestinian Israeli man was convicted of raping a Jewish Israeli woman in Jerusalem even though the couple had consensual sex. Because the man had lied about his nationality and deceived her, he was convicted of rape.

As Jewish Israeli journalist Gideon Levy argued, “I would like to raise only one question with the judge. What if this guy had been a Jew who pretended to be a Muslim and had sex with a Muslim woman? Would he have been convicted of rape? The answer is: of course not.”

Ninety-three percent of the land in Israel is nationalized and controlled by the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency, which denies Arabs the right to buy or even rent land, while Jews can easily do so.

Facts are facts. Israel claims to be a Jewish state that aims to “transfer,” better known as cleanse, Palestinians in order to maintain its demographic Jewish majority. Therefore, it is trying to taint a global justice movement with charges of anti-Semitism so that Israel will not be turned into a pariah state for its apartheid laws and unconscionable war crimes.

That some people in the world might falsely conflate Judaism with Zionism is perhaps because the state of Israel does so itself. That is not a brush Zionists can paint the BDS movement with, however.

Jews such as Pappé, Levy, Blumenthal and a growing army of lesser-known pro-Palestinian Jews, including myself, are willing to call out Israel for its thwarting of international law and basic norms of humanity. And we especially, the children and grandchildren of the Holocaust generation, will not allow accusations of anti-Semitism to muddy the waters.

The BDS movement is a struggle for social, political and economic justice. Join it.

TIAA-CREF: Divest from Injustice

Posted in Apartheid, International BDS Actions, Take Action, Zionism on October 4, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Occupied Palestine, October 4th 2010 – The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), on behalf of its constituent organizations and unions representing the majority of Palestinian civil society, calls upon the US non-profit pension fund TIAA-CREF to live up to its motto of providing “Financial Services for the Greater Good” by divesting its funds from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and violation of Palestinian rights. As in the struggle to end South African apartheid, divestment from wrongdoing companies is not just a moral obligation; it is a time-honored, particularly effective, non-violent form of pressure that can significantly contribute to ending Israel’s occupation, racial discrimination and denial of refugee rights.

The BNC strongly supports the fast-growing and inspiring campaign initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)1 and widely endorsed by US solidarity and just peace advocacy groups and coalitions, including the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation2 and Adalah-NY3, aimed at pressuring TIAA-CREF to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation and violation of international law. We urge all groups working on boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns in the US, especially on university campuses, to endorse this campaign and join it, whenever possible, to amplify its reach and impact across the US.

Investing in companies that profit from Israel’s multi-tiered oppression of the Palestinian people is a form of complicity in this oppression. Israel is methodically and routinely violating international law and Palestinian rights as part of its system of apartheid, colonization and occupation.4 Israeli colonial settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, continue to grow relentlessly, destroying lives and livelihoods. These settlements are all illegal according international law, as most recently confirmed by the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in July 2004.5 The construction of Israel’s Apartheid Wall has isolated and put at risk of displacement over 250,000 Palestinians from over 75 communities.6 The immoral and illegal siege of Gaza continues, and the 2008-2009 military aggression campaign known as Operation Cast Lead has been condemned by a UN fact finding mission as constituting war crimes and possible crimes against humanity “in furtherance of an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population”.7 Palestinian citizens of Israel face “institutional, legal and societal discrimination,” condemned even in US State Department reports.8 Over six million Palestinian refugees, the majority of the Palestinian people, are denied their UN-sanctioned right to return to their homes and receive reparations.

Through its investments in companies complicit in Israel’s violations of international law, TIAA-CREF directly profits from and is in turn accountable for these violations of international law:

– Holdings worth $19.24m in Veolia,9 a company that profits from the construction and expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements by operating a landfill in the West Bank,10 collecting rubbish from illegal settlements11 and being a key partner in a light rail system linking West Jerusalem and illegal Israeli settlements, described by the UN Human Rights Council as a “clear violation of international law”.12

– Holdings worth $1.69m in Elbit Systems,13 Israel’s largest arms manufacturer which provides unmanned aerial vehicles used in the massacre of Palestinian civilians in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead and has been integral in the creation of the Apartheid Wall across the West Bank14 that has been ruled illegal by the ICJ.

– Holdings worth $91.75m in Motorola,15 a provider of equipment and components for military checkpoints, that serve a humiliating and integral part of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian Territory, and the Israeli occupation forces.16

– Holdings worth $199.06m in Northrop Grumman,17 a vital supplier of military equipment to the Israeli occupation forces.18

– Holdings worth $236.85m in Caterpillar,19 who supply bulldozers routinely used to demolish Palestinian homes and in the construction of illegal Israeli settlements and supply unmanned bulldozers specially designed for urban warfare that were used in Operation Cast Lead. 20

Investments do not exist in isolation from the actions they fund. As holders of pension schemes with TIAA-CREF, over 3.5 million21 academic, medical, cultural and research practitioners throughout the United States are unwittingly profiting from violations of international law. Israeli impunity relies on the economic and political support gained by such investments; so did apartheid South Africa’s impunity. The BNC was pleased to learn that TIAA-CREF no longer owns shares in Africa-Israel,22 a company heavily involved in settlement construction.23 However, the BNC urges TIAA-CREF to ensure that its actions consistently reflect its own public statements about its commitment to “influence positive social change”24 and to ensure it sells its holdings in all companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory and infringement of Palestinian rights.

In the face of the failure of the international community to hold Israel to account for its violations of international law and its denial of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and in harmony with the 2005 BDS Call issued by the overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society, individuals of conscience, trade union and diverse institutions have engaged in campaigns to boycott and divest from companies complicit in Israeli violations of international law.

TIAA-CREF is an institution of great significance and weight and must take its responsibilities seriously. An organisation that professes to lead the field in ethical investment and hold progressive principles cannot bankroll and politically bolster Israeli aggression. Nor should individual pension scheme holders have their hard-earned savings ethically tarnished by their investment in Israeli violations of international law. The BNC looks forward to hearing that TIAA-CREF has ended its active complicity with Israeli contravention of Palestinian rights and calls upon board of TIAA-CREF to:

– Immediately divest its shares in all companies actively involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

– Take steps to ensure that such investments cannot be allowed to re-enter its portfolios.

– Inform all companies whose shares it holds that it will not tolerate involvement in Israeli aggression of any kind.

The BNC also calls upon individuals of conscience, international solidarity groups and academic, labour and student groups in particular to:

– Work closely with JVP, Adalah-NY and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation to support, enhance and ensure the success of the campaign against TIAA-CREF’s unethical investments.

– Raise awareness of TIAA-CREF’s investments in Israeli violations of international law in their communities, work places and educational establishments.

The BNC views this campaign with utter interest, as it is well justified, well though-out, as well as has every potential to succeed and, as a result, to play a key role in bolstering divestment campaigns across the US. Such prospects should not be taken lightly, given the undeniably great role played by divestment of international banks and corporations, especially the US-based ones, from apartheid South Africa in supporting the struggle for freedom and justice there.

3 For more information on the successful Adalah-NY campaign to secure TIAA-CREF divestment from Africa Israel see:
4 For an in-depth analysis of Israel’s regime over the Palestinian people constituting occupation, colonization and apartheid see:
9 Official TIAA-CREF records cited at
13 Official TIAA-CREF records cited at
15 Official TIAA-CREF records cited at
17 Official TIAA-CREF records cited at
19 Official TIAA-CREF records cited at

Platini: ’I’ll Kick Israel Out Of Europe’

Posted in Apartheid, International BDS Actions, Zionism on October 3, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Palestine Monitor
2 October 2010

The UEFA President has taken a tough stance, “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behaviour.”

Michel Platini, president of European football’s ruling body, threatened Israel with expulsion from the union if it continues to undermine football in Palestine. His comments this week were prompted by Israel’s refusal to allow six of the Palestinian national team to travel from Gaza to a match with Mauritania in August.

Israeli spokesmen said the players were denied access for “security reasons”, claiming they did not have the correct permit. Protests were held in the West Bank town of Al-Ram and Palestinian Football Federation (PFF) President Djibril Rajoub vowed to take the matter further and “demand the removal of Israel from international sporting organizations.”

Following a conversation with Rajoub, Platini, president of the European Union of Football Associations (Uefa), took a strong stance on Israel’s restrictions. “We accepted them in Europe and furnished them with the conditions for membership and they must respect the letter of the laws and international regulations otherwise there is no justification for them to remain in Europe”, he said. “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behaviour.” Platini added that International Football Federation (FIFA) chief Sepp Blatter had struck a similar tone during a private phone conversation

Palestinian football has been frequently disrupted by policies of the occupation, although informally there are agreements to leave it untouched as a “humanitarian gesture”. The domestic league season is often shut down prematurely; only seven seasons have been completed since 1977 and players are commonly subjected to harassment and violence. Two national team players from Gaza, Ayman Alkurd and Wajeh Moshate, were killed during Operation Cast Lead and the national stadium was destroyed by Israeli bombs.

Despite the problems, the PFF has been flourishing of late. In 2008, the men’s national team played its first match on home soil, and a year later 15,000 watched the women’s team take on Jordan. Both have gone on to enjoy some creditable results and FIFA conferred its development award on Palestine in 2008 “in recognition of the difficult task that it had accomplished in keeping football alive”.

With membership of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), already secured, and European Union (EU) acceptance seeming more likely, Platini’s comments represent a momentum check for Israel. Rejection from European football, which they have participated in since receiving a special invitation in 1994, would be a damaging blow to Israel’s standing in its adopted continent.

The matter will be discussed at a special Uefa meeting in Belarus in October.

Read more about football in Palestine

SAfrica school rethinks Israel ties

Posted in Apartheid, International BDS Actions, Zionism on October 3, 2010 by Marcy Newman

University of Johannesburg threatens to sever ties with Israeli Ben-Gurion University if certain conditions are not met.

Azad Essa Last Modified: 30 Sep 2010 01:21 GMT

The South African University of Johannesburg (UJ) senate has threatened to end its relationship with the Israeli university, Ben-Gurion (BGU), unless certain conditions are met.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the South African university’s highest academic body said Ben-Gurion University would have to work with Palestinian universities on research projects and stop its “direct and indirect support for the Israeli military and the occupation”.

“The conditions are that the memorandum of understanding governing the relationship between the two institutions be amended to include Palestinian universities chosen with the direct involvement of UJ,” the university said in a statement.

“Additionally, UJ will not engage in any activities with BGU that have direct or indirect military implications, this to be monitored by UJ’s senate academic freedom committee.

“Should these conditions not be met within six months, the memorandum of understanding will automatically lapse on April 1 2011,” UJ said.

Describing the afternoon senate meeting on Wednesday as mostly “tense”, the UJ senate also called on BGU to “respect UJ’s duty (and) to take seriously, allegations of behaviour on the part of BGU’s stakeholders that is incompatible with UJ’s values”.

‘Human dignity’

Adam Habib, the UJ’s vice-chancellor told Al Jazeera that the decision was based on two principles.

“Firstly it was important to identify with an oppressed population and secondly, it was about creating an enabling environment for reconciliation and the achievement of human dignity.”

Habib said his university will be engaging Palestinian academic institutions in a bid to solicit advice on mapping a way forward, and that the current memorandum of understanding (MOU) between UJ and Ben-Gurion would have to broaden.

“For instance, we know that the BGU has collaborative projects with the Israeli army and we also know that the university implements state policy, which invariably results in the discrimination of the Palestinian people,” Habib said.

“Crucially, there can be no activities between UJ and an Israeli educational institution that discriminated against the Palestinian people.”

Habib said that while the decision still had to be ratified by the university council, these changes would have to happen over the next six months, or the existing MOU would collapse.

‘Unprecedented momentum’

Salim Vally, a senior researcher at the Faculty of Education and spokesman for the Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC), told Al Jazeera that the move to sever academic ties with BGU “has created an unprecedented momentum and has galvanised academics towards fighting for social justice”.

“While the PSC supports an unequivocal and unambiguous boycott of all Israeli state institutions, this is a move in the right direction and we are confident that it would lead to a more comprehensive boycott of Israel in the future.

“We know that they have a relationship with the military, making them complicit in the acts of the army, and in the next six months we will prove that the relationship with BGU should be severed completely,” Vally said.

Relations between Ben-Gurion University and the University of Johannesburg, formerly the Rand Afrikaans University, a formerly all-white university under South Africa’s apartheid system, began in

The University of Johannesburg, created in 2005, took over various campuses including Rand Afrikaans University and a university in the black township of Soweto as part of efforts to ensure higher education was transformed with the rest of South Africa after the end of apartheid.

The current partnership with Ben Gurion dates back to August 2009 when the universities signed an academic cooperation and staff exchange agreement, concerning water purification and micro-algal biotechnology research.

Academic dissonance

The re-established relationship drew sharp criticism from the university community and catalysed the formation of a petition that has drawn some of the biggest academics, authors and social activists in South Africa.

Desmond Tutu and around 250 other prominent South African academics have supported ending UJ’s links with the Israeli institution.

“Israeli universities are an intimate part of the Israeli regime, by active choice,” Tutu wrote in an essay that appeared in a South African newspaper on Sunday.

“While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation.”

Academic boycotts of Israeli universities have been inspired by boycotts of South African institutions during apartheid.

A 2003 proposal for British universities to sever all ties with Israeli academic institutions was

Two years later Britain’s Association of University Teachers voted to boycott Israel’s Haifa and Bar Ilan universities. That decision was overturned only a month later under fierce international pressure.
US professors and students also have called for academic and cultural boycotts of Israel.

The moves have prompted sharp criticism. Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz once threatened legal action that would “devastate and bankrupt” anyone who boycotts Israeli universities.

The New York-based Anti-Defamation League described the British moves as anti-Semitic, arguing Israel was being singled out while human rights violators such as Iran, Sudan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe were ignored.

BDS Goes South

Posted in Apartheid, International BDS Actions, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on October 3, 2010 by Marcy Newman

PACBI | 29 September 2010

In a landmark event held in New Delhi on 22-23 September 2010, the conference “A Just Peace for Palestine” ended with a clear call for BDS as a strategy for realizing justice for Palestinians. The conference was co-organized by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the Committee for Solidarity with Palestine, the All India Peace and Solidarity Organization, and the recently established Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and supported by several organizations, including Focus on the Global South and COVA. The conference ended with a resolution that called upon “the Indian government to end its military ties with Israel and return to its earlier commitment to the cause of the Palestinian people.” The conference also affirmed that “the world must declare that Israel is an apartheid state. It must call for global boycott and sanctions on Israel as long as it continues its illegal occupation of Palestine and its apartheid policies.” The resolution appealed to “people in India to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as a show of solidarity with the Palestine people and their just struggle.” A plan of action was announced, in which several steps to show solidarity with Palestinians were outlined, particularly the launching of BDS campaigns and other measures by people’s action groups in the Asian region.

The BDS National Committee (BNC) was represented by BNC Secretariat member and Stop the Wall director Jamal Juma’, and PACBI founding and steering committee member Lisa Taraki. The Palestinian delegation also included Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian Legislative Council member and head of the Palestinian National Initiative; and Kenesset member Jamal Zahalqa, leader of the National Democratic Assembly parliamentary bloc. Notable speakers included Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; former UN General Assembly President Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann; Israeli dissident academic Ilan Pappe; Walden Bello, Member of the Philippines House of Representatives; notable Indian academics and writers Aijaz Ahmed, Achin Vanaik, Githa Hariharan and Upendra Baxi; veteran trade union leader from Bangladesh Rashed Menon; the chairman of the Communist Party of Bangladesh Manzurul Khan; Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist); Mordecai Briemberg of the Canada-Palestine Support Network; noted Indian journalist Seema Mustafa; member of parliament of Bangladesh, Moinuddin Khan; A.B. Bardhan, general secretary of the Communist Party of India; D.P.Tripathi, general secretary of the Nationalist Congress Party; and several other public personalities from India.

During and after the conference, some of the participants from Palestine went on to speak at a number of Indian universities and colleges, as well as at public meetings and press conferences. PACBI’s Lisa Taraki visited the cities of Calicut and Hyderabad, where she spoke with academics, students, political figures, parliamentarians and the press about BDS as a strategy chosen by Palestinian civil society, focusing on the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

Of particular note was a meeting with members of the newly-established Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and other Indian academics and cultural activists. A plan of action for activating the academic and cultural boycott in India was developed at this meeting; PACBI looks forward to working with our Indian partners in bringing BDS to India and expanding the reach of the academic and cultural boycott movement.

PACBI is proud to have been involved in this historic conference. Now that the reach of the BDS movement has been firmly extended to West and South Asia, we can expect to see a further enhancement of the global movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people and the launching of boycott campaigns led by Indian and other Global South academics, writers, artists, and intellectuals. The level of support for Palestine in India encountered by the delegation among ordinary people, students, political leaders and people’s movements was phenomenal. We are hopeful that campaigns led by our partners in India will contribute toward influencing the policy of the Indian government, which has been building a military and political alliance with Israel. This is particularly important due to India’s history of fighting colonial rule and leading the nonaligned movement.

Gaza Academics and Students: U. of Johannesburg’s Decision to Condition Ties with Ben Gurion University, a Step in the Right Direction (Statement)

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Zionism on October 3, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Besieged Gaza,

University Teachers’ Association
Palestinian Students Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel


Gaza Academics and Students: U. of Johannesburg’s Decision to Condition Ties with Ben Gurion University, a Step in the Right Direction

University Teachers’ Association in Palestine and Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel welcome the decision taken by the Senate of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to distance itself from the crimes of Apartheid Israel. The decision made by UJ’s highest academic body to set conditions for the relationship with Ben Burion University comes in response to a nationwide academic petition supported by more than 250 South African academics and Vice Chancellors.

But for us Gazans faced with atrocity after atrocity, bearing the brunt of Apartheid Israel’s continuous violation of international law and impunity ever since over two thirds of us were ethnically cleansed from where Israel and Ben Gurion University were founded over the ruins of our 531 Palestinian towns and villages destroyed by Zionist militias and, later, by the nascent Israeli army, the decision is evidently not enough, albeit an important step in the right direction,

The petition, backed by South African luminaries and anti-apartheid activists such as Breyten Breytenbach, John Dugard, Antjie Krog, Barney Pityana, Kader Asmal and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, demanded that the University of Johannesburg should apply the boycott unconditionally to Ben Gurion University until it ceases its complicity in Israel’s extensive violations of international law and until it terminates all privileges extended to the Israeli Occupation Forces.

We members of academia in Gaza encourage more action given the extent to which we have lost our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers in the continuous Israeli attacks on the 1.5 million Palestinians under siege here, and given the extent to which the international community has rewarded Israel in the past with academic, cultural, trade and military links. Military support has included the 3 billion dollars a year from the US and notoriously included Israel’s own provision of weapons to the South African Apartheid regime when the world’s citizenry had joined the boycott movement of this other abominable major oppression based on racism.

During the bombing of Gaza, in what came to be known as the Sharpeville of Palestine, over New Year of 2009 more than 430 of our children were killed, more than 37 primary and secondary schools including 18 schools serving as shelters for the internally displaced were hit, the American International school was reduced to rubble, and Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) partially demolished. The fact-finding investigation conducted by the University of Johannesburg confirmed BGU’s links with the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF.

In light of these ongoing, yet unaccounted for crimes, as part of the 2005 Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), and inspired by the boycott that put an end to South African Apartheid, we demand the complete academic boycott of Ben Gurion University as outlined by the petition itself and guidelines set by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), fully supported by anti apartheid-hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu who has said:

“Palestinians have chosen, like we did, the nonviolent tools of boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

South African universities with their own long and complex histories of both support for apartheid and resistance know more than anyone, perhaps, the value of this nonviolent resistance. “Israeli Universities, including BGU, are an intimate part of the Israeli regime, by active choice,” as Archbishop Tutu said. And, as the unprecedented South African petition by academics says, “While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation.”

We expect all post-Apartheid Academic institutions, including UJ, to join the momentum around the world, particularly among academics, who are heeding the call of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. As our students continue to have their education restricted in all forms by the Israeli siege and occupation, discrimination based entirely on race and ethnicity, we hope the University of Johannesburg takes note and joins unconditionally the boycott movement of Israeli academia – the oppressed majority of South Africans in the Apartheid era would have expected nothing less.

Besieged Gaza,

University Teachers’ Association in Palestine
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

UJ decision backward

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Zionism on October 3, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Sep 29, 2010 | Sowetan Editorial
Sun Oct 03 15:00:48 SAST 2010

THE world, with the obvious exception of the lunatic fringe, is fast becoming unanimous in its condemnation of repression, wherever it rears its ugly head.

It is heartening to note that the voices coming out of Cosatu are mindful of this clarion call for all progressive forces to join, as the trade union federation puts it, the growing global momentum calling for more decisive action on Israel to end the illegal occupation of Palestine.

For the dons at the University of Johannesburg to wish to continue their collaboration with their counterparts at the Ben Gurion University, an agreement signed when the local institution was still the Randse Afrikaanse Universiteit, RAU, is regrettable.

At the time the scientific and water management agreement was signed into being, South Africa was in the grip of apartheid. We have since moved on.

The BGU is complicit with the Israelis in their litany of errors against the people of Palestine.

The world yearns for peace in the Middle East and in its support for soldiers in the Israeli Defence Force for whom it extends special study privileges, the BGU has not proved a proper ally for tranquillity in the region. Their active cooperation with the IDF makes BGU’s relationship with UJ overtly anachronistic, given that the SA university wants to sell itself as an institution committed to justice and reconciliation.

Like Cosatu, we invoke the wisdom of Nelson Mandela and implore those at the helm of UJ to bear it in mind: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

South Africa’s Israel boycott

Posted in Apartheid, International BDS Actions, Zionism on October 3, 2010 by Marcy Newman

An international boycott helped end apartheid – now South Africans are leading world opposition to racism in Israel

o Ronnie Kasrils
o, Wednesday 29 September 2010 08.00 BST

Desmond Tutu Prominent South Africans including Desmond Tutu have endorsed recent moves to boycott Israeli institutions. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

When Chief Albert Luthuli made a call for the international community to support a boycott of apartheid South Africa in 1958, the response was a widespread and dedicated movement that played a significant role in ending apartheid. Amid the sporting boycotts, the pledges of playwrights and artists, the actions by workers to stop South African goods from entering local markets and the constant pressure on states to withdraw their support for the apartheid regime, the role of academics also came to the fore.

One significant move was the resolution taken by 150 Irish academics not to accept academic posts or appointments in apartheid South Africa. In 1971, the council of Trinity College Dublin took a decision not to own shares in any company that traded or had a subsidiary that traded in the Republic. The council later resolved that the university would not retain any formal or institutional links with any academic or state institution in South Africa.

Almost four decades later, the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions is gaining ground again in South Africa, this time against Israeli apartheid.

Earlier this month, more than 100 academics across South Africa, from over 13 universities, pledged their support to a University of Johannesburg initiative for ending collaboration with the Israeli occupation. The campaign has since grown to include up to 200 supporters. The nationwide academic petition calling for the termination of an agreement between the University of Johannesburg and the Israeli Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has attracted widespread attention. With the recent endorsement of some of the leading voices in South Africa, such as Kader Asmal, Breyten Breytenbach, John Dugard, Antjie Krog, Mahmood Mamdani, Barney Pityana and Desmond Tutu, the statement confirms the strength of the boycott call in South Africa:

“As academics we acknowledge that all of our scholarly work takes place within larger social contexts – particularly in institutions committed to social transformation. South African institutions are under an obligation to revisit relationships forged during the apartheid era with other institutions that turned a blind eye to racial oppression in the name of ‘purely scholarly’ or ‘scientific work’.”

Israeli universities are not being targeted for boycott because of their ethnic or religious identity, but because of their complicity in the Israeli system of apartheid. As the academics who have supported the call clearly articulate in their statement, Ben-Gurion University maintains material links to the military occupation. Israel’s attacks on Gaza in 2009, which saw the killing of more than 400 children, drew immediate and widespread international condemnation. Israel’s violation of international law was further confirmed by South Africa’s Justice Richard Goldstone in his report to the United Nations. Ben-Gurion University directly and indirectly supported these attacks, through the offering of scholarships and extra tuition to students who served in active combat units and by providing special grants to students who went on reserve duty for each day of service.

The principled position of academics in South Africa to distance themselves from institutions that support the occupation is a reflection of the advances already made in exposing that the Israeli regime is guilty of an illegal and immoral colonial project. South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council, in a response to an investigation commissioned by the South African government in 2009, issued a report confirming that the everyday structural racism and oppression imposed by Israel constitutes a regime of apartheid and settler colonialism similar to the one that shaped our lives in South Africa.

More recently, the international response to the shameful attack on the flotilla carrying medical supplies and other basic goods to the ghettoised population of Gaza was a sign of the erosion of Israel’s legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. In South Africa, the recall of our ambassador to Israel and the issuing of one of the strongest forms of diplomatic condemnation, the démarche, to Israel’s ambassador in Pretoria was a strong statement of recognition by the South African government that Israel’s actions deserve our utmost contempt.

The campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel has now launched in South Africa. Trade unions in South Africa have publicly committed their support; most notably with the action by South African Transport and Allied Workers Union dockworkers early last year to refuse offloading Israeli goods at Durban harbour – a commitment that was renewed in July this year.

The consumer boycott has also been gaining ground, including the launch of the recent public campaign by leading South African activists to boycott Ahava Dead Sea Cosmetics and to join the international movement to boycott Israeli products.

The boycott and sanctions campaign ultimately helped liberate both black and white South Africans. Palestinians and Israelis will similarly benefit from this international non-violent campaign – a campaign that all South Africans can take forward.

The petition to terminate the relationship between University of Johannesburg and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev can be accessed at

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