The scenes in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem, Gaza, and throughout occupied Palestine ‘48 have driven home the point clearly to people around the world: The Israeli settler-colonial project is one of systematic, massive violence targeting the Palestinian people. As we mourn the at least 153 lives taken so far this past week throughout occupied Palestine and on the border with Lebanon, as we express our outrage at the Israeli settlers seeking to uproot Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, we also recognize that this moment marks 73 years of the dispossession, expulsion and colonization of Palestine, the ongoing Nakba — the ethnic cleansing, colonization and occupation of Palestine that continues to this day — and 34 years since the Great Intifada of 1987, the echoes of which we see clearly in recent days.
The situation in Palestine calls us to action. Many of us are taking to the streets in mass protests that are drawing thousands demonstrating their outrage, and their solidarity with our Palestinian sisters and brothers. The resistance shown by Palestinians throughout Palestine, from the river to the sea, and by diasporic Palestinians, inspires people around the world, reflecting the strength of colonized peoples who continue to defend their existence and seek victory and liberation despite the military might of the colonizer.
As academics and cultural workers in the United States, we know that our government provides more than $3.8 billion in aid to the apartheid, settler-colonial regime in Tel Aviv each year. However, the complicity goes beyond the level of government. We find it in U.S. universities, where administrations crack down on, silence, and repress faculty and student voices for Palestine, especially those of Palestinians, people of color and other marginalized groups. We find it in the Big Tech companies to which our universities provide millions of dollars annually, such as Zoom, Facebook and YouTube, ready to silence, delete and shut down Palestinian scholarship whenever apartheid apologists file a complaint. We find it in Study Abroad programs coordinated hand in hand with the same Israeli universities deeply complicit and involved in Israeli military research and development.
Similarly, Israeli universities like Technion, in coordination with the U.S. and European military-industrial complex, develop the massive weaponry being used to murder Palestinians and destroy their homes and properties, while others, like Ariel University, are built outright on stolen Palestinian land. Palestinian universities, meanwhile, are subject to military raids on students and faculty, abrupt closures, bombing raids, and surveillance under the eye of Israeli military and state authority. Hundreds of Palestinian students are detained in Israeli prisons.
As we noted when we first distributed the Palestinian call for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, sparked by Israel’s massacres of Palestinians in Gaza during the Israeli bombing campaign of 2008-09 known as Operation Cast Lead, the call for academic and cultural boycott is a particularly relevant mechanism for upholding Palestinian rights and pushing back on academic and cultural institutions’ complicity in their denial. Indeed, these very boycott tactics helped topple the South African apartheid regime. And as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu recognized, and more recently Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem also acknowledged, Israel is an apartheid state, and as did apartheid South Africa, it needs to feel the full impact of the Boycott Divest and Sanctions movement.
As Palestinian academic and cultural workers noted when issuing the PACBI call to action, “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.”
More than 1500 academics and cultural workers in the United States have already signed on to the call for academic and cultural boycott, as have a number of academic associations, including the American Studies Association, the Association for Asian American Studies, the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the African Literature Association and the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies.
At this time, we urge you to join us: https://usacbi.org/about/
There are practical actions you can take to get involved:
- Support Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support; and call upon your university and college administrations to institute funding for scholarships and fellowships for Palestinian students;
- Demand your administration/president to issue a public statement censuring Israeli destruction of and interference with Palestinian schools and universities, archives and research centers, both in Gaza and throughout occupied Palestine. Issue faculty statements on behalf of the Faculty Senate, meeting or other bodies making your position clear. You do not need to wait for the administration to act.
- Work toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations adopting a policy of academic and cultural boycott of Israel;
- Refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions or their official representatives;
- 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, including holding teach-ins, demonstrations and forums on your campus.;
- Promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by academic institutions, and place pressure on your own institution to suspend all ties with Israeli universities, including collaborative projects, study abroad, funding and exchanges;
- Boycott Study Abroad campaigns to Israel on your campus which allow Jewish and non-Jewish students to travel to Israel but not Palestinians, and introduce motions in your faculty governing body to end or suspend all study abroad programs at Israeli universities
- Support students and faculty under attack for their Palestine advocacy–and participate in their campus organizing;
- Add your name to this call to conscience for academic and cultural workers: https://usacbi.org/about/
When you take one of these nine actions — please contact us to let us know or reach out to us to work together! Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Palestinians throughout the world commemorate 73 years of resistance to an ongoing Nakba, USACBI invites you to stand in solidarity, steadfast in the struggle for a free Palestine!
Photo credit: Corinne Janeau, at the demonstration in solidarity with Palestine, Toulouse, France