Newsletter Archive:.
  January 2015  

Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter & Ferguson Reps Take Historic Trip to Palestine

 Representatives at the forefront of the movements for Black lives and racial justice have taken a historic trip to Palestine this month to connect with activists living under Israeli occupation. Black journalists, artists and organizers representing Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), and more have joined the Dream Defenders for a 10-day trip to the occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel.

The trip comes after a year of highly-publicized repression in Ferguson, the Gaza Strip, and West Bank including East Jerusalem, as well as solidarity between these places. Ahmad Abuznaid, Dream Defenders’ legal and policy director and a co-organizer of the delegation, said that the goal of the trip was to make connections.

“The goals were primarily to allow for the group members to experience and see first hand the occupation, ethnic cleansing and brutality Israel has levied against Palestinians, but also to build real relationships with those on the ground leading the fight for liberation,” wrote Abuznaid. “In the spirit of Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael and many others, we thought the connections between the African American leadership of the movement in the US and those on the ground in Palestine needed to be reestablished and fortified.”


Students at UC Davis Pass Divestment Resolution

“We know that our victory might trouble those in the powerful status quo but it cannot be taken from us, because it reflects our commitment to speak the truth in the jaws of censorship…and to continue to demand justice for those wanting to live with justice and dignity in Palestine, and around the world.”


In MLA straw vote, the winds shift– for Palestine

 The Modern Language Association’s Delegate Assembly affirmed in a straw poll by 48 votes to 26 that boycotts help to protect academic freedom. By 66 to 0, they also endorsed the idea that the MLA should roundly condemn retaliation against scholars who speak out publicly on Palestine and Israel.

110 Comics Workers Sign Petition against Angouleme Comic Festival for Sodastream ties

“We cannot accept our art being used to whitewash these crimes, as the Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs has explicitly stated it will attempt to do through its “Brand Israel” campaign. Angoulême, a center of appreciation for comics internationally, should not be used in this manner.”


PACBI Editorial 

Israel’s desperate new tactic in fighting the growing academic boycotts

Over the last months, Israeli advocacy groups have been scrambling to delegitimize, demobilize, and debunk the fast growing BDS movement with no success. … We have learned of one strategy Israel and its extensive lobby network are employing to delegitimize the movement, and specifically on the academic front. This strategy seeks to instrumentalize the Palestinian citizens of Israel in the service of the Israeli propaganda war on the BDS movement, by cynically – and quite simplistically -- employing the fact that this community uses the various services of the state, such as health, educational, social security and other services, to refute the argument that Israel is an apartheid state.

This desperate move by Israel and its academic establishment reflects the by now mainstream recognition among Israeli academic institutions and government circles alike that the academic boycott of Israel, whether announced or “silent,” and BDS in general are reaching a tipping point, as both former prime minister Ehud Barak and former chief of Mossad Shabtai Shavit have recently warned.

Israel lobby groups are employing three relatively new tactics in this strategy, in addition to the battery of older tactics, most prominent of which remain intimidation and bullying. The first is to collect and disseminate statistics on Palestinian participation in higher education to show how Israeli universities are supposedly “liberal” spaces that do not discriminate against Palestinians, as if mere numbers can cover up the repugnant racist policies and repressive environment that prevail in Israel’s academe. The second is to have Palestinian academics in Israeli universities invite international scholars to boycottable conferences held in Israel. Such a tactic makes it more difficult for international academics to decline these invitations on the grounds that it would hurt Palestinian academics. The third is to ask international scholars to review the works of Palestinian students in Israeli universities. All three tactics are meant to show the international community that an academic boycott of Israel will “hurt Palestinian scholars and students,” first and foremost.

This Israeli strategy is disingenuous at best, racist at worst.


In India, Cultural Boycotts against Israel Are Small but Growing

Following the cycle of violence in Gaza this past summer, there was visible public outrage against Israel in India, which sparked a number of protests and solidarity events.



Israeli citizens against silencing discussion of Israeli apartheid

 It is disgraceful that those who claim to be champions of free speech are attempting to silence an intelligent, humanistic discussion of the Israeli government's apartheid policies, following decades of occupation and ethnic cleansing.


The year ahead in academic boycotts of Israel

 2015 is shaping up to be a big year for the academic boycott. Anger over Israel’s continuing occupation, and its assault on Gaza last summer, is driving the discussion.

  Risala in Arabic means mission, message or letter

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