PACBI Newsletter
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PACBI Newsletter

  March 2013  

Joseph Massad: Israel and the politics of boycott


Today, it is the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and its international solidarity network that is the champion of a boycott of the racist Israeli settler colony. Like its noble predecessors, from African American boycotts in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Indian boycott of British goods, the Jewish anti-Nazi boycott, and the international boycott of Rhodesia and South Africa, the BDS movement insists that its call for a boycott should be heeded until Israel sheds all its racist laws and policies and becomes a non-racist state. Israel's attempt to rebrand itself as a just and egalitarian society comes up against its actual and stark racist reality. Its opposition to the Palestinian BDS movement is often framed as an opposition to all boycotts as a form of struggle. But as the historical record shows, this is not a time-honoured Zionist position. As they have done throughout their history, Zionism and Israel will continue to support any boycott that seeks to institutionalise racism and racial separatism and will denounce any boycott that seeks to end racism and racial separatism. Their campaign and that of Obama against BDS should be understood in this context of their commitment to apartheid as a principle of organising human life.


BDS Spreads on College Campuses in Canada and US

This month saw unprecedented BDS success on college campuses coinciding with Israeli Apartheid Week. Student unions and associations passed divestment resolutions at two University of California campuses, and in Canada York University, the University of Toronto Mississauga, and Trent Univ. student councils did the same.


Depeche Mode: Do Not Entertain Apartheid!

“Palestinians are calling on artists to shun Tel Aviv in the same way that South African activists called on artists to boycott Sun City. We are asking you to refrain from crossing a Palestinian picket line, endorsed by international organizations, and increasingly supported by progressive-Israelis.


Morgan Freeman: Don’t accept apartheid tarnished award

Given that Israel practices forms of racism through colonialism, occupation and apartheid, and given the Hebrew University’s record of complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights, it is cynical, and nothing short of a dishonor to your lifelong achievements to be accepting this award.



Israel’s Lawfare against BDS in Tatters

PACBI and the entire BDS movement around the world celebrated what commentators described as a “crushing defeat” of legal efforts by Israel and its powerful lobby groups to delegitimize BDS and anti-Zionist activism in general.  This month, a British employment tribunal dismissed a lawsuit against Britain’s largest academic union, the University and College Union (UCU), that sought to silence the union’s deliberations on BDS at its annual conferences.[2]  The lawsuit was brought about by a Zionist member of UCU who accused his union of “institutional anti-Semitism” for debating the academic boycott against Israel’s complicit institutions. 

The court ruling stated:

 “Lessons should be learned from this sorry saga. We greatly regret that the case was ever brought.  At heart, it represents an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means. It would be very unfortunate if an exercise of this sort were ever repeated” (paragraph 178).

 The claimant, supported by a prominent lawyer [3] and key Israel lobby groups in the UK, also attacked UCU’s solid rejection of a newly created definition of anti-Semitism that includes anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel.  In response to this, the court emphatically distinguished between Judaism and Zionism, stating that “a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel cannot amount to a protected characteristic” under the Equality Act of 2010.

 What is less known about this and other anti-BDS litigation cases is that the Israeli government stands behind them.  Amir Sagie, director of the civil society affairs department in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, admitted [5] in an Israel advocacy conference in Johannesburg in February that Israel is deeply worried about the growth of BDS and is trying to combat it on several fronts, including the legal one.  Several Israeli government ministries, Sagie disclosed, have been “investing heavily” in legal warfare, or lawfare, against BDS in key EU countries.


Rolling Stone: Roger Waters Calls for Boycott of Israel

 Waters became an outspoken supporter of BDS against Israel after visiting the West Bank in 2006, where he spray-painted Pink Floyd’s "We don't need no thought control" on the Israeli West Bank barrier.


Israel interrogates, expels South African academic Salim Vally

 Witnessing “the manner in which Palestinians returning to their homes were mistreated, harassed and humiliated,” Vally was overwhelmed with memories of apartheid in South Africa.


Israeli police arrest Jerusalem students in crackdown on Palestinian campus movement

 On 6 March, Israeli police brutally attacked and arrested three Palestinian students shortly after a peaceful demonstration in support of the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strikes which was held at the campus entrance. 

  Risala in Arabic means mission, message or letter