PACBI Statement

Palestinian Appeal to Professor Zygmunt Bauman

February 8, 2013

 Dear Professor Bauman,

 Dear Professor Bauman,

We at the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) have learned that you are planning on giving a keynote lecture on February 18 at the Israel Sociological Association’s annual meeting to be held at the Ruppin Academic Center.  We are writing to urge you to cancel your lecture at the conference and the college, as well as your presence at the Beit Ariela Public Library, where we have learned you will be discussing your work. All these institutions are complicit in Israel’s occupation and violation of human rights and are therefore subject to the academic boycott, a key component of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which is supported by the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people.
A distinguished and renowned scholar like yourself would make a very strong moral impact on the academy worldwide if you made a gesture of support for the Palestinian struggle for self-determination by distancing yourself from the Israeli academy and mainstream cultural institutions. At a time when the academic boycott of Israel is gaining ground and giving hope to Palestinians that our struggle to achieve our rights is gaining the sympathy and support of academics and other intellectuals the world over, it would be a most appropriate gesture to give notice to the Israeli academic establishment that it cannot be part of the world academy as long as it remains a partner in the crimes perpetrated by the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.
You yourself are a harsh critic of the Israeli state, and your courageous statements about Israel’s regime of oppression and your likening of the apartheid Wall to the wall surrounding the Warsaw Ghetto [1] have engendered the ire of the Zionist establishment while being welcomed by those fighting for justice.
We are hopeful that a person who declared that it “is forbidden to stay silent in the face of Israeli crimes and their persecution of Palestinians exactly because the fate of Jews in Europe had similar beginnings – discrimination, pogroms, ghettoes, concluding with the Shoah,” [2] will find it right to respect the Palestinians’ means of struggle by boycotting the complicit institutions of the Israeli state. The academic and cultural boycott has wide support in Palestinian society, and is viewed as the most effective path today to achieving Palestinians’ right to self-determination given the abject failure of “peacemaking” and the inability of the UN, under US hegemony, to hold Israel accountable to international law.
We do not need to remind you that the Israeli academic establishment is deeply implicated in the system of apartheid and colonialism that oppresses the Palestinian people.  You are also acutely aware that Israel has flouted international law for several decades.  Since the hegemonic world powers are actively complicit in enabling and perpetuating Israel’s colonial and oppressive policies, we believe that the only avenue open to achieving justice and upholding international law is sustained work on the part of Palestinian and international civil society to put pressure on Israel and its complicit institutions to end this oppression.
We urge you to respect the Palestinian boycott guidelines by canceling your talk at the Israel Sociological Association meeting at Ruppin College and at Beit Ariela Public Library, an institution sponsored by Tel Aviv municipality and thus part and parcel of the cultural establishment in Israel.
By refraining from allowing your name to be used to normalize Israel’s academy, you would be sending a strong message in support of our struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
[2] Ibid.
In 2004, inspired by the triumphant cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, and supported by key Palestinian unions and cultural groups, PACBI issued a call for the academic and cultural boycott of institutions involved in Israel‘s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.  The 2004 Palestinian call appealed to the international academic community to, among other things, “refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions.”  Following this, in 2005, an overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society called for an all-encompassing BDS campaign based on the principles of human rights, justice, freedom and equality.  The BDS movement adopts a nonviolent, morally consistent strategy to hold Israel accountable to the same human rights standards as other nations. It is asking the international academic community to heed the boycott call, as it did in the struggle against South African apartheid, until “Israel withdraws from all the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; removes all its colonies in those lands; agrees to United Nations resolutions relevant to the restitution of Palestinian refugees rights; and dismantles its system of apartheid."


February 8, 2013


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