Open Letter from Palestinian Academics
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)  views with concern your participation in this conference held at the Hebrew University. At a time when the international movement to isolate Israel is gaining ground in response to Israel’s flagrant infringement of Palestinian human and political rights, we urge you to reflect upon the ethical implication of your accepting an invitation to take part in a conference at an Israeli university. We believe that participation in conferences or similar events in Israel not dedicated to ending Israel’s illegal occupation and other forms of oppression contributes to the prolongation of this injustice by normalizing and thereby legitimizing it. As distinguished legal scholars, you are acutely aware that Israel has flaunted international law for several decades; since the hegemonic world powers are active agents in acquiescence to Israel’s colonial and other oppressive policies, we believe that the only avenue open to achieving justice for Palestinians is sustained work on the part of Palestinian and international activists for justice to put pressure on Israel to end this oppression. A campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is, we believe, the most morally and politically sound way to achieve this. You may be interested to know that in July 2005 more than 170 Palestinian civil society unions and organizations issued the Call for BDS  as a non-violent form of resisting Israel’s oppression.
In the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), which includes East Jerusalem, according to UN Security Council resolutions, Israel is continuing the construction of its colonies and massive Wall in direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of July 2004. It is also deepening its apartheid policies against Palestinians under its occupation as well as its own Palestinian citizens. This is exemplified by the recent racist ruling of the Israeli High Court upholding a ban on the reunification of Palestinian citizens of Israel with their spouses from the OPT and therefore infringing, on ethnic grounds, upon the basic human right to choose one’s partner. In any other country, such a law would be rightly condemned as racist.
We also ask you to reflect on the symbolism of the venue of this conference. The Hebrew University is itself implicated in serious violations of international law. Specifically, the University’s acquisition of a significant portion of the land on which its Mount Scopus Campus and dormitories are built is illegal. Here are some details:
More than one year after Israel’s military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank (which includes East Jerusalem, according to UN Security Council resolutions), specifically on 1 September 1968, the Israeli authorities confiscated 3345 dunums of Palestinian land, basing their decision on article 5 and article 7 of the Land (Acquisition for Public Purpose) Ordinance 1943. The decision was published in the official Israeli Gazette -- the Hebrew edition -- number 1425. It was therefore “legalized” by Israel. This land, for the most part, was (still is) privately owned by Palestinians living in that area. A large part of the confiscated land was then given to the Hebrew University to expand its campus (mainly its dormitories). The Palestinian landowners refused to leave their lands and homes arguing that the confiscation order of 1968 was illegal. Consequently, the case was taken to the Jerusalem District Court in 1972 (file no. 1531/72). In 1973, as expected, the Israeli court ruled in favor of the University and the state. The court decided that the Palestinian families must evacuate their homes and be offered alternative housing.
The basis for the illegality of the Hebrew University land confiscation deal is that this land is part of East Jerusalem, which is an occupied territory according to international law (numerous UN resolutions recognize East Jerusalem as an inseparable part of the OPT). Israel's unilateral annexation of occupied East Jerusalem into the State of Israel and the application of Israeli domestic law to it have been repeatedly denounced as null and void by the international community, including by the UN Security Council in its Resolution 252 (21 May 1968). Israel’s expropriation of Palestinian land in East Jerusalem and efforts at forced eviction of its Palestinian owners are illegal under the terms of International Humanitarian Law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Furthermore, by moving Israelis (staff and students) to work and live on occupied Palestinian land, the Hebrew University, like all Israeli settlements illegally established on occupied territory, is gravely violating the Fourth Geneva Convention’s explicit prohibition in this regard.
In conclusion, and appealing to your sense of justice and moral consistency, we hope that, until Israel fully abides by international law, you shall treat it exactly as most of the world treated racist South Africa, or indeed any other state that legislates and practices apartheid: a pariah state. Only then can there be a real chance for a just peace in harmony with international law and based on equal human rights for all, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or other identity considerations.