An open letter to the Dutch Resistance Museum, Amsterdam
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is appalled to learn that the Dutch Resistance Museum organized an event to honor Raoul Wallenberg in cooperation with the Israeli Embassy in the Netherlands. The one-day academic symposium entitled “Man Amidst Humanity,” which was held on October 31st, was co-sponsored by the Israeli government and, therefore, directly contributed to the Israeli regime’s campaign to “brand” itself as a beacon of democracy and an enlightened actor on the world stage , masking Israel’s persistent racist denial of the very presence and rights of the Palestinian people, manifested in decades of systematic processes of ethnic cleansing, colonization and violent subjugation of the Palestinians.
You describe your tribute to Wallenberg, who bravely fought against racism and the genocide of the Jews in Europe, as a “reminder that every individual has a responsibility to fight against racism and other human rights violations” . Yet, by organizing this event in cooperation with the Israeli state you have made a mockery of the very human duty which you hold dear and have rendered your attempt to honor the tradition of standing up to the forces of racism and injustice hollow, meaningless and hypocritical. You have dishonored the tradition you seek to uphold and have reproduced a colonial racist distinction that deems only certain lives worth defending while maintaining an indifference towards the suffering of native peoples and people of color throughout the world. To quote Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a freedom fighter who went on hunger strike to protest the Bahrain state’s racist oppression of Shia citizens, “when it comes to human rights, there is no grey area, you either stand for human rights everywhere and against perpetrators of human rights violations or you do not” .
What is worse, your role in rebranding Israel’s oppression comes at a time when the momentum around the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom grows globally; recently artists and human rights activists cancelled their performances or participation in events in the United States and Austria due to official Israeli sponsorship or honouring of Israeli war criminals . Building on these recent victories and taking our struggle forward we reaffirm that the silence over Israel’s colonial and apartheid  oppression of the Palestinian people must end!
The state of Israel was created in 1948 by systematically dispossessing and ethnically cleansing more than 750,000 Palestinian people in order to form an exclusivist Jewish state; Israel has denied Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right to return to their homes and their lands. Israel also continues to expel people from their homes in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev). Today, there are more than 7 million Palestinian refugees still struggling for their right to return to their homes, like all refugees around the world.
margin-left:0cm;text-indent:0cm;background:white">Palestinians in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip live under a brutal and unlawful military occupation. Gaza has been turned by Israel into the world’s largest open-air prison, denying basic access to construction materials, education, healthcare, basic foodstuffs and other basic rights. Israel restricts Palestinians’ freedom of movement and of speech; blocks access to lands, health care, and education; imprisons Palestinian leaders and human rights activists without charge or trial; and inflicts, on a daily basis, humiliation and violence at the more than 600 military checkpoints and roadblocks strangling the West Bank. All the while, Israel continues to build its wall – deemed illegal by the ICJ in 2004 -- on Palestinian land and to support the ever-expanding network of illegal, Jewish-only settlements that divide the West Bank into Bantustans.
margin-left:0cm;text-indent:0cm;background:white">Palestinian citizens of Israel face a growing system of apartheid within Israel‘s borders, with dozens of racist laws and policies that deny them the rights that their Jewish counterparts enjoy. These laws and policies affect education, land ownership, housing, employment, marriage, and all other aspects of people‘s daily lives.
The list of individuals who have taken a stance and spoken out against Israel’s apartheid is long and includes former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Richard Falk.
We urge you to follow the example set by these individuals. We call on you to learn about the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel until it recognises and upholds the rights of all of the Palestinian people . You will learn much by reading the article “Educators can’t stay silent about Israeli apartheid” by J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, Robin D.G. Kelley, Bill V. Mullen, Nikhil Pal Singh and Neferti Tadiar. These courageous professors stated:
We refuse to be silent or passive in the face of gross violations of principles of universal human rights that both Israel and the US publicly purport to uphold. As was the case with the US removal of tribal nations, the US South under anti-black “Jim Crow” laws, or South Africa under apartheid, Palestine today is the measure of the meaning and value of human rights in our time.
We ask you to fulfill your responsibility to uphold universal human rights by supporting the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and return. Staying true to Wallenberg’s struggle against racism and injustice means ending the silence over Israel’s cruel oppression of the Palestinian people and standing with the Palestinian people until we achieve freedom, justice and equality in our homeland. Doing so means non-cooperation with the Israeli establishment and severing your ties with its institutional representatives in the future.