Sunday, January 11, 2009

Open Letter to Our American Colleagues - Marcy Newman and Rania Masri

Below is an excerpt of an appeal to American academics issued by two American academics currently working in the Middle East. The full appeal can be read at the link.

What American academics can do about Israeli apartheid

Dissident Voice, January 10, 2009 - ....Thus, in the midst of this carnage in Gaza, in solidarity with Palestinian civil society organizations that have called on the international community to support their call for BDS we urge our fellow American academics to work towards this end on their university campuses. In the midst of this latest massacre—the bloodiest massacre since 1967–the Palestinian Association of University Teachers issued a statement calling for those in the international community to “immediately impose boycotts, sanctions, and divestments on the Apartheid Israeli state,” and to demand the enforcement of all United Nations resolutions, particularly UN Resolution 194 calling for the right of return for all Palestinian refugees, and to demand that Israel comply with the Fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law.

Likewise, the Palestinian National Boycott Committee, of which PACBI is a part, issued a renewed call to action this week:

While the US government has consistently sponsored, bankrolled and protected from international censure Israel’s apartheid and colonial policies against the indigenous people of Palestine, the EU was able in the past to advocate a semblance of respect for international law and universal human rights. That distinction effectively ended on December 9th, when the EU Council decided unanimously to reward Israel’s criminal disregard of international law by upgrading the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Israel clearly understood from this decision that the EU condones its actions against the Palestinians under its occupation. Palestinian civil society also got the message: the EU governments have become no less complicit in Israel’s war crimes than their US counterpart.

The large majority of world governments, particularly in the global south, share part of the blame, as well. By continuing business as usual with Israel, in trade agreements, arms deals, academic and cultural ties, diplomatic openings, they have provided the necessary background for the complicity of world powers and, consequentially, for Israel’s impunity. Furthermore, their inaction within the United Nations is inexcusable.

Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockman, President of the UN General Assembly prescribed in a recent address before the Assembly the only moral way forward for the world’s nations in dealing with Israel:

More than twenty years ago we in the United Nations took the lead from civil society when we agreed that sanctions were required to provide a nonviolent means of pressuring South Africa to end its violations. Today, perhaps we in the United Nations should consider following the lead of a new generation of civil society, who are calling for a similar non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to end its violations.

Now, more than ever, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, BNC, calls upon international civil society not just to protest and condemn in diverse forms Israel’s massacre in Gaza, but also to join and intensify the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel to end its impunity and to hold it accountable for its persistent violation of international law and Palestinian rights. Without sustained, effective pressure by people of conscience the world over, Israel will continue with its gradual, rolling acts of genocide against the Palestinians, burying any prospects for a just peace under the blood and rubble of Gaza, Nablus and Jerusalem.

We urge our fellow academics to not only support this statement in theory, but also in practice by pushing for academic boycott on your campuses as you return to classes this week. Supporting the human rights of Palestinians is not anti-Semitic; it is about human rights: Palestinian human rights. If this were any other captive population besieged for seven days with US-made materiel, we would be outraged and acting. So we are asking you to act now. It is our tax dollars at work that enables this massacre to take place. Let us work for justice, for consistency. Let us make apartheid, in all its forms, only present in history books.

Rania Masri and Marcy Newman are American professors teaching in the Middle East. Rania Masri, from North Carolina, is Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Balamand, Lebanon. Marcy Newman, from California, is Associate Professor of English at An Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine.

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