The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel denounces in the strongest terms the exclusion of renowned author and Palestinian rights defender Susan Abulhawa from occupied Palestine. Abulhawa, a member of the Organizing Collective of USACBI, the author of Mornings in Jenin and The Blue Between Sky and Water and the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine, was denied entry to Palestine by the Israeli occupation at Ben Gurion airport on Thursday, November 1. She is refusing deportation and is being held at the airport and threatened with forcible deportation.
We demand our colleague’s immediate release to enter Palestine. Susan was traveling to Palestine to participate in the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival, sponsored in part by the British Council. She was denied entry despite the help of a lawyer from the British Council who was on hand to assist. The detention and denial of entry of Susan Abulhawa is racist and targeted; it seeks, first and foremost, to exclude her from her homeland as a Palestinian who tells the stories of her people through literature and creative expression.
Israel’s policy of exclusion has always targeted Palestinians – from the forced displacement and denial of the right to return of Palestinian refugees, to the denial of entry and separation of families imposed at every crossing and border imposed by the occupier on the land of Palestine. It also specifically targets Palestinians who are active in defense of their people’s rights for even harsher repression, abuse and detention.
Israel’s denial of entry to Palestine to Susan Abulhawa as she traveled to participate in a Palestinian literary festival is yet another attack on Palestinian culture and literature, reflecting the denial of cultural rights and freedoms to the Palestinian people. It follows the imprisonment of numerous Palestinian writers, including poets over the decades like Dareen Tatour, Sameeh al-Qasem and Mahmoud Darwish. Novelist and political leader Ghassan Kanafani was assassinated by a car bomb, while Kamal Nasser was shot dead in his apartment by Mossad agents.
This legacy of harsh repression directed at Palestinian culture and creativity is continuing today. People around the world can respond and take action to defend Palestinian cultural rights by supporting the call of Palestinian cultural workers and institutions for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. So long as Palestinian authors cannot even enter their homeland to participate in a literary festival, the urgency of boycott is clear. We urge artists and cultural workers to join the boycott of Israel – and, like Susan, to work to support Palestinian cultural expression and resistance.
Image: Susan Abulhawa at the Oslo Book Festival, decltype