2012 has been an exciting year for the growth of the cultural and academic boycott of Israel, a pillar of the global BDS movement. In what follows we would like to offer the main highlights of the year. This is far from an exhaustive list, though, so we hope that we shall be forgiven by each and every activist who contributed to a victory that space did not allow mentioning here. We call on our partners and activists around the world to continue in this spirit in 2013 and to especially work on the academic front to press for the isolation of Israeli academic institutions so long as Israel continues to practice apartheid, occupation and colonialism and its academic institutions continue to plan, implement, justify and whitewash these violations of international law. We wish everyone a 2013 closer to freedom, justice and equality.
- University of Toronto Graduate Students Union Endorses BDS Campaign after an effective campaign by Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA).
- In a major success for the campaign against Israeli prison contractor G4S, the University of Oslo, Norway’s largest, has announced that it will terminate its contract with the company in July 2013. G4S is held complicit in Israel’s violations of human rights, including in illegal colonies and torture of Palestinian prisoners. Student activists with the University’s Palestine Committee led this effort.
- Andreas Oberg, Swedish guitarist, cancels gig in Tel Aviv, heeding BDS activists’ appeals.
- Portico Quartet cancel their performance in Israel and call for BDS.
- Roger Waters, musician and founder of Pink Floyd
, reiterates support for BDS in a UN address on behalf of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.
- Teachers’ Union of Ireland (Dublin Colleges Branch AGM) declares support for BDS.
- York University (Canada) Graduate Students’ Association Endorses BDS Campaign.
- Ross Daly, along with his musicians, cancelled their participation at an Israeli oud festival following appeals by BDS activists.
- Stevie Wonder pulls out of IDF fundraiser after receiving many letters calling on him to cancel, including from South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Roger Waters, and leading African-American figures. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) led the effort.
- American Studies Association (ASA) reports on an academic boycott effort at its annual conference supported by 150 scholars.
- Just over a year since an Orange County jury, in a politically-motivated prosecution,
the “Irvine 11
” students for disrupting a lecture by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren
, the Associated Students of UC Irvine
to call for divestment from companies that profit from Israeli occupation.
- Students for Justice in Palestine, the largest network of campus-based Palestine solidarity groups in the US, holds its second national conference, celebrating a year of successes since its inaugural conference in 2011.
- The Cape Town World Music Festival had to do without one of its star acts when Pops Mohamed boycotted the event because of co-sponsorship by the Israeli embassy.
- Ten talented young harpists bow out of the International Harp Contest in Israel, leaving only 22 non-Israelis to complete in the increasingly unpopular state sponsored event. In addition, acclaimed harpists Naoko Yoshino and Park Stickney also quietly cancelled their performances for the Harp Contest.
- At least 10 international actors withdrew from the IsraDrama festival, following last minute appeals asking them not to collaborate with the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv which performs in settlements.
- Electronica musician and DJ Carl Craig of Detroit quietly cancels his gig in Tel Aviv.
Several letters were sent to Craig urging him to cancel.
- PACBI issues a call for action, “Interrogating Israel Studies in the Academy,”
including suggestions for how to mobilize against Israel Studies schemes at universities around the world. The call, which exposes the political agendas of Israel Studies programs and how they undermine academic integrity, builds upon a BRICUP
briefing document issued in May 2012 concerning “Hasbara posts” in Israel Studies at UK universities.
- Hip hop duo Rebel Diaz, The Narcicyst, artist Narcenio Hall, and Cairo-based art collective Mosireen cancel Creative Time Summit gig over partnership with Israeli organization.
- Ramallah-based Palestinian MC Boikutt, Syrian singer Lena Chamamyan, Lebanese MC Malikah (Lynn Fattouh), Palestinian singer and composer Marwan Abado and Palestinian DJ Sotusura all pull out of the Salam.Orient cultural festival in Austria due to Israeli embassy sponsorship.
- Four of five speakers pull out of UNESCO conference honoring Israeli president Shimon Peres at University of Connecticut. Peres is accused of war crimes in Lebanon and Palestine.
- Turkish alternative band Baba Zula canceled their planned concert in Israel after BDS appeals.
- Lebanon’s Mashrou’ Leila band cancels on Red Hot Chili Peppers after latter refuses to heed calls for cancelling Israel gig.
- British theatre director Peter Brook cancels participation in an Israeli festival after appeals from Palestinian, Israeli and international groups and activists.
- Rejecting normalization
, twenty Palestinian film directors refuse to participate in the filming of 24h Jerusalem, a German-Israeli-Palestinian film project that was to be partially funded by Israeli entities that are implicated in numerous violations of human rights and illegal activities against Palestinians.
- University of California Student Association (UCSA), a body which represents hundreds of thousands of students across the University of California, pass by a 12-0 vote (two abstentions) a resolution condemning CA House Resolution 35 which equates Palestine activism with anti-Semitism.
- The Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI) lead spirited protests against the participation of three Israeli universities in the Indo-Global Education Summit in Hyderabad calling for a boycott of all complicit Israeli academic institutions.
- University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Student Representative Council supports academic boycott of Israeli institutions.
- InCACBI launch a campaign against the academic research agreement between the Indian University Grants Commission and the Israel Science Foundation.
- Lebanese filmmakers pull out of Israeli-run workshop in Jordan.
- Lenny Kravitz Cancels Israel show
after appeals from activists.
- Swedish rock band The Cardigans cancel Tel Aviv performance.
- Palestinian dance troupe Juthor withdraw from a celebration in Switzerland that involved normalization and the promotion of Israeli culture. Organizers of the International Folklore Encounters Festival, Fribourg
had intended to bring Juthor onto the stage together with the Israeli group Shalom Israel.
- Nino Katamadze’s quietly cancels five-concert tour of Israel after being contacted by Israeli BDS activist group Boycott From Within.
- Anti-apartheid fans of Hollywood actors Bruce Willis and Jean Claude Van Damme were relieved the two stars cancelled their planned visit to Tel Aviv, where they were scheduled to attend a local premiere screening of their latest film Expendables
- Reggae artist Sizzla Kalonji cancels his gig in Israel after tweeting his disappointment that Obama had awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Israeli President Shimon Peres.
- Arizona State University Student Government Votes to Divest from Israel.
- World renowned percussion virtuoso Zakir Hussain calls off Israel visit after appeals from the Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (InCACBI) of Israel and other BDS activists.
- Alice Walker declines request to publish Israeli edition of her best-selling book The Color Purple, arguing that Israel "is guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people."
- Israeli former Foreign Ministry director Alon Liel backs cultural boycott of Israel.
- Professor Katherine Franke, Director of the Columbia University Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, Joins the academic boycott of an Israeli-Government Sponsored Conference.
- Indian writer Vikas Swarup, author of Slumdog Millionaire
, cancelled his participation in the International Writers Festivals in Jerusalem heeding appeals from InCACBI, PACBI and BDS activists around the world.
- Huzama Habayeb, a Palestinian novelist, led an overwhelmingly successful academic boycott effort involving the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. The Center’s planned book project titled Memory of a Promise: Short Stories by Middle Eastern Women was cancelled because nearly half of the authors (13 out of 29) withdrew their literary contributions in protest of the project’s attempt to promote a false symmetry, or balance, between Palestinians/Arabs on the one side and establishment-celebrated Israelis on the other.
- As part of its ongoing review of positions and guidelines, PACBI issues a statement on normalization and partial boycotts, in view of two of the most important issues that arise in debating BDS, particularly in Western countries: (A) whether or not Palestinians should be “working with Israelis” rather than “boycotting them,” and (B) whether supporters of BDS should fully boycott Israel or boycott only companies involved in Israel’s occupation and colonial settlements.
- After learning about the cultural boycott of Israel from Irish Palestine Solidarity Committee (IPSC) activists, among others, Irish band Dervish cancel Israel gigs, and decide “not to break this boycott.”
- Moroccan BDS activists who reject normalization with apartheid Israel claim victory with the cancellation of the second Mediterranean Delight International Belly Dance Festival which was to be held in Marrakech in May. The festival is produced by Israeli Simona Guzman and involves the owner of an Israeli belly dancing school.
- At its 18th
annual national conference M.E.Ch.A. (Movímíento Estudíantíl Chí[email protected]
de Aztlán), the largest association of [email protected]
youth in the US, chapter leaders voted by a landslide decision to endorse BDS against Israel, due to its military occupation and settlement of Palestine.
- Israeli expert forced to cancel lecture at the University of Jordan after large protests by students who condemned the visit as normalization.
- Seattle LGBT Commission Cancels “Pinkwashing” Event Sponsored by Israeli Consulate. The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) led the campaign against the event.
- Graduate Students at Carlton University (Canada) vote to divest from companies implicated in the Israeli Occupation. SAIA spearheaded the effort.
- Tens of prominent British Actors and artists, including Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe winner Emma Thompson, sign a letter asking Shakespeare‘s Globe festival in London to withdraw its invitation to Israeli national theater group Habima, due to its complicity in Israel’s human rights violations and colonization of Palestinian land.
Israeli president Shimon Peres in a major interview with the Israeli media singled out the British artists campaign against Habima as a sign of Israel’s increasing isolation and its potential impact on the Israeli economy.
- New York Indie band The Pains of Being Pure at Heart cancel Israel gig for “political reasons,” as reported by the Israeli media.
- Rock musician Cat Power cancels Israel show over “its conflict with the Palestinians,” as reported by the Washington Post.
- University of Pennsylvania student group PennBDS organizes a historic conference on BDS on campus, attracting hundreds of activists from all over the US.
Israel lobby groups across the US waged an unprecedented, but ultimately abortive, smearing and bullying campaign to cancel the conference.
- University of Regina (Canada) Students Union joins the BDS movement.
- US jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson cancels Israel show stating: “as a human rights activist, I identify with the cultural boycott of Israel.”
- US based band tUnE-yArDs cancels Tel Aviv gig and Israeli source believes cancellation was political.
Band founder Merrill Garbus is a signatory of the 500 Artists Against Israeli Apartheid (Montreal) letter endorsing BDS
, published in February 2010.
- National Union of Students (NUS) in the UK endorses divestment from companies implicated in Israel’s violations of human rights. Citing “similar moves” against apartheid South Africa, NUS targets specific complicit companies.
- French philosopher Jacques Rancière cancels a lecture at Tel Aviv University after appeals from BDS France and Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit
International en Palestine (AURDIP).
- Belgian singer Lara Fabian who performed at Israel’s 60th “anniversary” celebrations in France cancels Lebanon tour after pressure from the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon (CBSI).
- US scholars’ delegation organized by USACBI calls for academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
Presenting a model of academic activism and international solidarity, several members of the delegation published articles about their experiences in Palestine and in support of the academic boycott of Israel.