PACBI Statement

Open Letter to Slavoj Zizek

June 27, 2006

We believe that participation of international academics and intellectuals in conferences, festivals, or similar events in Israel not explicitly dedicated to ending Israel‘s illegal occupation and other forms of oppression only enhances Israel‘s image as a center of learning and the arts, and contributes to the propagation of the untruth that scholarship and politics or art and politics should be kept separate and that business as usual need not be disturbed by the intrusion of "politics." We are certain that as a conscientious scholar you do not subscribe to such form

We believe that participation of international academics and intellectuals in conferences, festivals, or similar events in Israel not explicitly dedicated to ending Israel‘s illegal occupation and other forms of oppression only enhances Israel‘s image as a center of learning and the arts, and contributes to the propagation of the untruth that scholarship and politics or art and politics should be kept separate and that business as usual need not be disturbed by the intrusion of "politics." We are certain that as a conscientious scholar you do not subscribe to such formulations that can only be construed as complicity with the status quo. Remaining silent in the face of injustice is not different from acquiescence to it, we are sure you will agree.
The Jerusalem Film Center, under whose auspices the Festival is held,describes itself as "a tribute to pluralism, dialogue, co-existence, cooperation and the quest for freedom." The idyllic description of the opening festivities of the 2005 Festival "in the shadow of the Old City Walls" is in flagrant disregard of the appalling political and social reality behind the ancient walls of occupied East Jerusalem or indeed behind the other, illegal, Wall that is engulfing Palestinian land, ghettoizing Palestinian Jerusalemites, and blocking the access of other Palestinians to their metropolis.
We wonder what the Festival‘s sponsors have done to condemn the occupation, the Wall, or the longstanding policies of exclusion, discrimination, and outright apartheid practiced by city planners, government agencies, and successive mayors of Jerusalem, the most notorious of whom was Teddy Kollek, a generous patron of the Center. You may not be aware that the Jerusalem Film Festival receives the ongoing support of the Israeli Ministry of Education and Culture, as well as the Jerusalem Municipality and the office of the mayor. All of these institutions are key nodes in the structures maintaining the colonization of East Jerusalem. Once the Jerusalem Film Festival denounces the Wall and Israeli policies in Jerusalem and declares that no "coexistence" can flourish under apartheid, and once it severs its links to the centers of state power, then it will have taken a courageous step and joined the real civilized world that believes that "coexistence" in the shadow of occupation is not possible and that the "quest for freedom" requires taking a firm stand for equality and against oppression.
As a conscientious scholar, 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 left 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. Given the grave circumstances in which Palestinians find themselves at this juncture, we believe that a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is the most morally and politically sound way to achieve this. You may be interested to know that in July 2005, the first anniversary of the International Court of Justice‘s ruling on the illegality of the Wall and the occupation regime, more than 170 Palestinian civil society unions and organizations issued the Call for BDS [1] as a non-violent form of resisting Israel‘s oppression. The Call issued by PACBI for academic and cultural boycott of Israel has also received widespread support from federations of academics, professionals, writers and artists, and from civil society organizations in Palestine.[2]
We hope that you will not grant legitimacy to oppression by participating in this Festival, no matter how laudable the film you will be speaking about there is. Your mere presence at the Festival will give solace to the centers of power bent on giving a beautiful face to an ugly reality.
Yours sincerely,
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
[email protected]
www.pacbi.org
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[1] http://www.pacbi.org/boycott_news_more.php?id=66_0_1_10_M11
[2] http://www.pacbi.org/einside.php?id=55

June 27, 2006
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