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Posts Tagged ‘academic boycott

Economic boycott of Israel settlers: The terror of Israel state of affairs

Note: A re-edit of 2014 article “Why Israel Fears the Boycott”? By OMAR BARGHOUTI published this JAN. 31, 2014 SundayReview

The UN declared recently that 68 companies, among them 18 foreign companies, are doing business with Israel illegal settlements in Palestine West Bank.

“If Israel continue construction of illegal settlements, the Israeli government is likely to face an international boycott “on steroids,” as Mr. Kerry warned last August 2014.

These days, Israel seems as terrified by the “exponential” growth of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (or B.D.S.) movement as it is by Iran’s rising clout in the region.

Last June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively declared B.D.S. a strategic threat. Calling it the “delegitimization” movement, he assigned the overall responsibility for fighting it to his Strategic Affairs Ministry.

But B.D.S. doesn’t pose an existential threat to Israel; it poses a serious challenge to Israel’s system of oppression of the Palestinian people, which is the root cause of its growing worldwide isolation.

The Israeli government’s view of B.D.S. as a strategic threat reveals its heightened anxiety at the movement’s recent spread into the mainstream.

It also reflects the failure of the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s well-endowed “Brand Israel” campaign, which reduces B.D.S. to an image problem and employs culture as a propaganda tool, sending well-known Israeli figures around the world to show Israel’s prettier face.

Begun in 2005 by the largest trade union federations and organizations in Palestinian society, B.D.S. calls for ending Israel’s 1967 occupation, “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality,” and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and lands from which they were forcibly displaced and dispossessed in 1948.

Why should Israel, a nuclear power with a strong economy, feel so vulnerable to a nonviolent human rights movement?

Israel is deeply apprehensive about the increasing number of American Jews who vocally oppose its policies — especially those who are joining or leading B.D.S. campaigns.

Israel also perceives as a profound threat the rising dissent among prominent Jewish figures who reject its tendency to speak on their behalf, challenge its claim to be the “national home” of all Jews, or raise the inherent conflict between its ethno-religious self-definition and its claim to democracy.

What I. F. Stone prophetically wrote about Israel back in 1967, that it was “creating a kind of moral schizophrenia in world Jewry” because of its “racial and exclusion” ideal, is no longer beyond the pale.

Israel is also threatened by the effectiveness of the nonviolent strategies used by the B.D.S. movement, including its Israeli component, and by the negative impact they have had on Israel’s standing in world public opinion.

As one Israeli military commander said in the context of suppressing Palestinian popular resistance to the occupation, “We don’t do Gandhi very well.

The landslide vote by the American Studies Association in December to endorse an academic boycott of Israel, coming on the heels of a similar decision by the Association for Asian-American Studies, among others, as well as divestment votes by several university student councils, proves that B.D.S. is no longer a taboo in the United States.

The movement’s economic impact is also becoming evident. The recent decision by the $200 billion Dutch pension fund PGGM to divest from the 5 largest Israeli banks because of their involvement in occupied Palestinian territory has sent shock waves through the Israeli establishment.

To underscore the “existential” danger that B.D.S. poses, Israel and its lobby groups often invoke the smear of anti-Semitism, despite the unequivocal, consistent position of the movement against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.

This unfounded allegation is intended to intimidate into silence those who criticize Israel and to conflate such criticism with anti-Jewish racism.

Arguing that boycotting Israel is intrinsically anti-Semitic is not only false, but it also presumes that Israel and “the Jews” are one and the same. This is as absurd and bigoted as claiming that a boycott of a self-defined Islamic state like Saudi Arabia because of its horrific human rights record, would of necessity be Islamophobic.

The B.D.S. movement’s call for full equality in law and policies for the Palestinian citizens of Israel is particularly troubling for Israel because it raises questions about its self-definition as an exclusionary Jewish state.

Israel considers any challenge to what even the Department of State has criticized as its system of “institutional, legal and societal discrimination” against its Palestinian citizens as an “existential threat,” partially because of the apartheid image that this challenge evokes.

Tellingly, the Supreme Court recently rejected an attempt by Israeli liberals to have their nationality or ethnicity listed simply as “Israeli” in the national population registry (which has categories like Jew, Arab, Druse, etc.). The court found that doing so would be a serious threat to Israel’s founding identity as a Jewish state for the Jewish people.

Israel remains the only country on earth that does not recognize its own nationality, as that would theoretically avail equal rights to all its citizens, undermining its “ethnocratic” identity.

The claim that B.D.S., a nonviolent movement anchored in universal principles of human rights, aims to “destroy” Israel must be understood in this context.

Would justice and equal rights for all really destroy Israel?

Did equality destroy the American South? Or South Africa?

Certainly, it destroyed the discriminatory racial order that had prevailed in both places, but it did not destroy the people or the country.

Likewise, only Israel’s unjust order is threatened by boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

A Palestinian human rights activist and the author of “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights.”

Stephen Hawking boycott conference in Israel, and hosted by Israel 90 year-old president Shimon Peres. In protest at treatment of Palestinians

I consider Professor Stephen Hawking the ultimate mental achievement of mankind. A total paraplegic who managed to communicate his complex ideas and theories by very convoluted and hard time consuming language methods. That is the spirit of determined persons. And Hawkins never forget that racism and discrimination should be banished from civilization.

Professor Stephen Hawking is backing the academic boycott of Israel by pulling out of a conference hosted by Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem as a protest at Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

Stephen Hawking fine tuned the theory of the Big Bang and developed the notion of the Black Holes…

Hawking, 71, the world-renowned theoretical physicist and former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, had accepted an invitation to headline the fifth annual president’s conference, Facing Tomorrow, in June, which features major international personalities, attracts thousands of participants and this year will celebrate Peres’s 90th birthday.

and Matthew Kalman published  in The Guardian this May, 8, 2013

Stephen Hawking

A statement published with Stephen Hawking’s approval said his withdrawal was based on advice from academic contacts in Palestine.  Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Hawking is in very poor health. Last week, he wrote a brief letter to the Israeli president to say he had changed his mind. He has not announced his decision publicly, but a statement published by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine with Hawking’s approval described it as “his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there”.

Hawking’s decision marks another victory in the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions targeting Israeli academic institutions.

In April, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland became the first lecturers’ association in Europe to call for an academic boycott of Israel, and in the United States members of the Association for Asian American Studies voted to support a boycott, the first national academic group to do so.

In the four weeks since Hawking’s participation in the Jerusalem event was announced, he has been bombarded with messages from Britain and abroad as part of an intense campaign by boycott supporters trying to persuade him to change his mind.

In the end, Hawking told friends, he decided to follow the advice of Palestinian colleagues who unanimously agreed that he should not attend.

Hawking’s decision met with abusive responses on Facebook, with many commentators focusing on his physical condition, and some accusing him of antisemitism.

By participating in the boycott, Hawking joins a small but growing list of British personalities who have turned down invitations to visit Israel, including Elvis Costello, Roger Waters, Brian Eno, Annie Lennox and Mike Leigh.

Israeli occupation forces has detained around 9,500 Palestinian minors since 2000.
Israeli occupation forces has detained around 9,500 Palestinian minors since 2000.

Many artists, writers and academics have defied and even denounced the boycott, calling it ineffective and selective. Ian McEwan, who was awarded the Jerusalem Prize in 2011, responded to critics by saying: “If I only went to countries that I approve of, I probably would never get out of bed … It’s not great if everyone stops talking.” (What if Israel refuses to talk peace with Palestinians?)

Noam Chomsky, a prominent supporter of the Palestinian cause, has said that he supports the “boycott and divestment of firms that are carrying out operations in the occupied territories” but that a general boycott of Israel is “a gift to Israeli hardliners and their American supporters”.

Hawking has visited Israel four times in the past.

In 2006, he delivered public lectures at Israeli and Palestinian universities as the guest of the British embassy in Tel Aviv. At the time, he said he was “looking forward to coming out to Israel and the Palestinian territories and excited about meeting both Israeli and Palestinian scientists”.

Since then, his attitude to Israel appears to have hardened.

In 2009, Hawking denounced Israel’s three-week attack on Gaza, telling Riz Khan on Al-Jazeera that Israel’s response to rocket fire from Gaza was “plain out of proportion … The situation is like that of South Africa before 1990 and cannot continue.”

Israel Maimon, chairman of the presidential conference said: “This decision is outrageous and wrong.

“The use of an academic boycott against Israel is outrageous and improper, particularly for those to whom the spirit of liberty is the basis of the human and academic mission. Israel is a democracy in which everyone can express their opinion, whatever it may be. A boycott decision is incompatible with open democratic discourse.”

In 2011, the Israeli parliament passed a law making a boycott call by an individual or organisation a civil offence which can result in compensation liable to be paid regardless of actual damage caused.

The law defined a boycott as “deliberately avoiding economic, cultural or academic ties with another person or another factor only because of his ties with the State of Israel, one of its institutions or an area under its control, in such a way that may cause economic, cultural or academic damage”.

• This article was amended on 8 May 2013. The original described Hawking as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He stepped down in 2009.


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