Newsletter Archive:.
  February 2014  

Israel’s Lawfare against BDS in the US Backfires

 The New York Times Editorial Board condemned attempts in the New York Legislature to pass a bill that would bar state financing for academic groups, like the ASA, that have taken official action to boycott higher-education institutions in Israel: “The New York bill is an ill-considered response to the American Studies Association resolution and would trample on academic freedoms and chill free speech and dissent.” 

 Columbia University president Lee C. Bollinger issued a statement saying that the “misguided legislative effort” would undermine academic freedom, adding: “My fellow Columbia faculty members had it precisely right when they argued in their letter to the Assembly that the curbs on free speech contained in the anti-boycott legislation appear to violate the U.S. Constitution, as it has been interpreted for decades, and would degrade the academic freedom long cherished not only at Columbia but across all of American higher education.”

 The Association of American University Professors (AAUP) condemned the anti-BDS bill introduced in Maryland arguing:

 “[T]his legislation undermines constitutionally protected academic speech and debate in order to promote a particular viewpoint. If enacted, such legislation will set a deplorable precedent for future legislation that might further reduce academic speech. In case after case, the US Supreme Court has upheld the rights of university faculty to speak publicly on matters both national and international. In one of many cases, the Court declared “our Nation is deeply committed to safeguarding academic freedom, which is of transcendent value to all of us and not merely to the teachers concerned. That freedom is therefore a special concern of the First Amendment, which does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom” (Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 US 589, 684 (1967).”

 Many other liberal organizations have issued similar statements rejecting anti-BDS bills as violations of academic freedom and of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.


Irish Academic Boycott Pledge

 The signatories come from a wide range of disciplines and include many well-known names, such as Seamus Deane, Ailbhe Smyth, Luke Gibbons, Ronit Lentin, Joe Cleary, Kieran Allen, Kathleen Lynch, Tadhg Foley, Terrence McDonough and Helena Sheehan.


PACBI & BfW: Heartbeat normalization fig-leafs Israel’s occupation and apartheid

 Heartbeat is a normalization project that not only avoids any mention of the Israeli occupation and denial of basic Palestinian rights as the root causes of the current colonial conflict; it also obscures the glaring moral, legal and political differences in this oppressor-oppressed relationship.

Remi Kanazi: This Divestment Bill Hurts My Feelings



PACBI Editorial

Rolling Stones: Boycott Apartheid, again!

 The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Palestine, has learned that you reportedly plan to perform in Israel on 10 June 2014.  We are writing to urge you to refrain from playing in apartheid Israel and not to condone Israel’s violations of international law and human rights against the Palestinian people.  We wrote you previously, in 2007, after hearing of similar plans, and back then you did not play in Israel.  We hope you will heed our call once again.

 Why would you accept to perform in a country that is so deeply involved in war crimes and human rights violations?  Performing in Israel at this time is morally equivalent to performing in South Africa during the apartheid era.  We all remember how leading Rolling Stones musicians played a prominent role in enforcing a cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa in the 1980’s, and participated in recording the timeless song, Sun City, which had a singular influence on raising public awareness about apartheid and its injustices.  As Archbishop Desmond Tutu, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights Prof. John Dugard, and South African government minister Ronnie Kasrils have repeatedly declared, Israel has created a worse system of apartheid than anything that ever existed in South Africa. 

 Today, Palestinian civil society groups are calling on artists to shun Tel Aviv in the same way that South African activists called on artists to boycott Sun City.  All we are asking is for you to refrain from crossing a picket line called by Palestinian society, endorsed by international organizations, and increasingly supported by progressive-Israelis.  Palestinian civil society is asking this of you as the most essential contribution to our struggle to achieve peace and justice.

 To sign a petition calling on the Rolling Stones to cancel click here.


IMEU: Israel’s system of ethnic privilege is the real threat to academic freedom

 Due to Israel’s discriminatory system of ethnic privilege, Palestinians living in different areas face various Israeli-imposed obstacles to exercising their rights to education and academic freedom.



Haidar Eid: The alternative is BDS

 We are no longer interested in the sterile opposition to normalization generated by the Oslo Accords, but rather in formulating responses that could actually defeat multiple forms of Zionist oppression.


Heike Schotten: US BDS activism reaches the third rail

 BDS is unmasking the ideological workings of American liberalism and Jewish establishment politics. Support of Israel is increasingly becoming a partisan position in the U.S.

  Risala in Arabic means mission, message or letter