Scholar Sophie Grace Chappell Withdraws From Ethics Conference in Apartheid Israel

As Palestinians, we salute scholar Sophie Grace Chappell for her principled decision to withdraw from the Anti-theory in the Philosophy of Science and Ethics conference in apartheid Israel.

Chappell withdrew over “the longstanding failure of the State of Israel to accord basic human rights to the Palestinian people” and the “increasingly extreme, inhumane, and violently oppressive policies currently being deployed against innocent Palestinians by the Settler movement in the West Bank and elsewhere, with the connivance and at times active support of the Israeli [occupation forces] and of members of the present Israeli government.”

We appreciate the fact that Chappell chose to heed Palestinian and anti-colonial Israeli appeals urging her not to allow Israel’s decades-long apartheid regime, currently under its most racist, homo- and trans- phobic government ever, to use her name and standing as a stamp of approval.

With her withdrawal, Chappell joins the many principled scholars who are refusing to participate in complicit conferences that whitewash Israeli apartheid. It sends a message to Israel that, like apartheid South Africa, it cannot continue to commit the crime against humanity of apartheid without consequences. It also signals to Israeli institutions that are complicit in apartheid that scholars will not continue business-as-usual relations with them.

The conference host, Ben Gurion University, is deeply complicit in Israel’s system of oppression against Palestinians. As early as 2011, the University of Johannesburg in South Africa severed all institutional ties with Ben Gurion University after a fact-finding mission found it guilty of “institutional complicity and active collaboration with the Israeli military, occupation and apartheid practices.”

We urge all remaining speakers to follow Chappell’s ethical example by withdrawing from the conference at Ben Gurion University. Apartheid was the antithesis of ethics in South Africa, and it is the same with Israel. Organizing a conference on ethics in apartheid Israel makes a travesty of ethics.


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