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PACBI-Boycotting Israel Put High on the Agenda

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Boycotting Israel Put High on the Agenda

On May 26, the Special

Council of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) in the United Kingdom will be

convening to reconsider the motions to boycott two Israeli universities passed less

than a month ago at its regular annual meeting on April 22. Considering the well-

orchestrated campaign of vilification and misinformation aimed at demonizing and

discrediting the idea of boycott and boycott activists in the UK and beyond, it will not be

surprising if the Special Council revokes the boycott motions. However, we wish to

stress that despite this anticipated setback, the inspiring process of awareness

building and mobilizing that was launched in preparation for the AUTís initial meeting will

persist and can only grow.

Boycotting Israeli institutions due to their complicity in

Israelís racist and colonial policies against the Palestinians remains formidably on the

agenda. We may not get tangible results this year, but the prospects for success next

year or the following one are much greater now. Many more years separated the ANCís

call for boycott of apartheid -- issued in 1956 -- and the actual implementation of

meaningful sanctions. What matters most is that the taboo has indeed been shattered.

Comparing Israel to South Africa has notably become more acceptable than before;

and, crucially, Israelís ability to continue its criminal oppression with impunity has

suffered an arguably irrecoverable loss. In short, Israel has become boycottable in the

minds of many around the globe.

Just this week, the Call for Boycott issued by

the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

received the critical endorsement of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) --

representing millions -- and of more than a hundred South African academics, including

Dennis Brutus, John Pampallis and Steven Friedman. South African government

minister and ANC leader Ronnie Kasrils has also come out in unreserved support of

this boycott call, which enjoys the backing of an overwhelming majority in Palestinian

civil society, universities included.

The outcome of Thursdayís meeting is largely

anticipated by the boycott activists in the UK as well as by PACBI for several reasons,


(1) The extensive intimidation tactics used by organized Israeli and

Zionist interest groups in the UK, Israel and even the US to vilify boycott leaders and to

effectively suppress any rational debate on Israelís oppression of the Palestinians, the

main motive behind the boycott;

(2) The blanket media coverage given only to

one side of the debate, that of the anti-boycott forces, with an almost complete

preclusion of Palestinian voices;

(3) The appalling misinformation campaign

waged by Israel and its apologists, including some key figures in the Israeli ďleft,Ē who

joined the establishment chorus in this regard.

The hysterical reaction of Israel to

the possibility of boycotts and the profound debate that has ensued around the world

on Israelís illegal occupation and other forms of oppression prove beyond doubt that

this campaign has touched a sensitive nerve. If Israel wins this round in the boycott

process, it will only prove what is already widely recognized: its lobby and interest

groups have enough influence in the media and in the academy to continue escaping

censure and to avoid carrying out its obligations under international law. The facts on

the ground will remain, however. Israelís colonial Wall, its ever expanding settlements,

its indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians, its relentless land and water theft and its

abuse of Palestinian human rights are all too real to be ignored by the international


Just as in the South African case, a comprehensive regime of

sanctions and boycotts remains not only the most politically effective but also the most

morally sound strategy in bringing about Israelís compliance with international law and

universal principles of human rights. With such international pressure, the prospects for

a just peace in our region will finally thrive.

25 May 2005

Posted on 25-05-2005

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