Newsletter Archive:.

  May  2012  

PalFest 2012 breaks the siege of Gaza 

Amid the focus on the economic hardships caused by Israel’s ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, it has been easy for many to overlook the fact that the territory’s 1.6 million people have been kept under a cultural siege as well. This is ironic because much international debate has emphasized the rights and wrongs of cultural boycott of Israel in the context of the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. For years, the Palestine Festival of Literature — PalFest — has been trying to break this siege. On 5 May this year, some 14 months after the Egyptian revolution began, Gazans were finally able to welcome PalFest — and an impressive group of writers, artists, bloggers and social activists — to Gaza.

 “Culture, art and academia contribute directly to shaping the individual and collective consciousness,” said Dr. Haidar Eid, PalFest’s partner in Gaza and a professor at al-Aqsa University, at a press conference and welcoming ceremony at Rafah as soon as the guests crossed. Eid, active with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI), spoke about the growth of BDS campaigns around the globe. Solidarity with the Palestinian people through BDS is one of the key unarmed forms of resistance, he said. “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it,” Eid said, quoting Bertolt Brecht.


Why we say 'no' to Habima at the Globe

London's Globe Theatre invited Habima, Israel's National Theatre, to perform in their Shakespeare festival in May 2012, despite their widely condemned performances in Israel’s illegal colonies. Watch as prominent cultural figures speak out against Habima’s complicity and invitation.



South Africa Univ. cancels Israeli Diplomat’s lecture

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) cancelled a lecture by Israel’s deputy ambassador to South Africa, in response to student and faculty protests. UKZN deputy vice-chancellor explained: “[The Israeli diplomat will bring] likely reputational damage for the institution.”


Palestinian Solidarity - The Responsibility of South African Intellectuals

The South African academic community should break out of its "silent and inert", albeit sympathetic, posture toward Palestinians and fully reject cooperation with Israeli institutions.  Support for Palestinian freedom should not be seen as a conversation in isolation from our own post-apartheid concerns.


PACBI Editorial

Israeli Apartheid: What’s in a Name?

This month, almost a year after South Africans succeeded in severing institutional ties between the University of Johannesburg and Ben Gurion University, the University of KwaZulu-Natal cancelled a lecture by a representative of the Israeli state.  It is significant that the first major successful implementations of the academic boycott of Israeli institutions should come from South Africa.  For all who wish to see, this highlights the way formerly oppressed South Africans recognize the parallels between their oppression under apartheid rule and the apartheid that continues to be practiced on the Palestinians.  It also puts the nature of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, specifically, and the Palestinian struggle more generally, in perspective.  It forces us to move beyond an occupation-only paradigm and to think instead of three-tiers of Israeli oppression: occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.  It is the apartheid paradigm that we wish to focus on here, as it is often the least understood or recognized, despite the mounting international studies that have shown beyond doubt that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid. 

It is crucial for the world to understand that ending the occupation alone will not bring about justice for the majority of the Palestinian people, 69% of whom are refugees or internally displaced persons, a whole 50% are still in exile, and only 38% live in the 1967-occupied Palestinian territory, more than 40% of whom are refugees. Nor will it address all their rights under international law.  For justice and equality to prevail, we must understand Israeli apartheid, and resist it.

Authoritative opinions have emerged that extend the ambit of apartheid: recently, the Cape Town session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine found that “Israel’s rule over the Palestinian people, wherever they reside, collectively amounts to a single integrated regime of apartheid” [3], while the 80th session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2012 also found Israel in violation of the crime of apartheid in the treatment of its Palestinian citizens inside Israel by determining that many state policies within Israel also violate the prohibition on apartheid as enshrined in Article 3 of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).


Global Appeals to Red Hot Chili Peppers: Don’t Entertain Apartheid

Solidarity groups from around the world have been appealing to Red Hot Chili Peppers to cancel their performance in Israel.  This month saw letters from Italy, South Africa, and India, among others

Ashtar in London: Shakespeare’s Richard II and Cultural Boycott

Palestinian theatre company, Ashtar, performed Richard II at the Globe on May 4 and 5. After the performance, a conversation took place with Ashtar on the cultural boycott of Israel.


Over 100 UK student leaders condemn Israeli Student Union racism

UK student leaders have signed a letter condemning a recent decision by Zefat Academic College that effectively bars Palestinians students from standing in elections.

  Risala in Arabic means mission, message or letter