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But the significance of the academic boycott against Israel adopted by the largest British academic union cannot be viewed in legalistic terms. Its moral weight should not be underestimated. The NATFHE vote proved once again that boycotting Israeli academic institutions due to their complicity in maintaining Israel’s special form of apartheid against the Palestinians remains prominent on the agenda of western progressives and human rights activists.

The circle this argument fails to close is that without the freedom of Palestinian education the prospect of any genuine dialogue on the long-term solution to the conflict cannot materialise. And in the absence of a sizeable and meaningful denunciation of Israeli clampdowns on Palestinian education, what other mechanisms are there to awaken the pro-dialogue, pro-peace camp?

As Palestinians commemorate the 39th anniversary of Israel's June 1967 occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, Palestinian civil society [1] expresses its deep appreciation of CUPE's courageous and principled solidarity stand. While CUPE leads the way, it is not alone.

Mainstream Israeli and international media are reporting that Israel is launching a major public relations campaign highlighting its key place in the international arts scene. Your visit, and regardless of your intentions, will be viewed by Palestinians as contributing to the deceptive image of Israel as a "normal" state, thereby legitimizing its racism and colonial oppression.

This is a significant accomplishment considering the campaign of intimidation and bullying waged against proponents of the NATFHE academic boycott initiative by Israeli networks and powerful Zionist lobbies in the United Kingdom and the United States. At this stage of the international boycott movement, Palestinian boycott advocates, including PACBI, aim first and foremost to keep alive an open and principled debate on the need for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it fully complies with international law and universal human rights.

If the urge to boycott is irresistible, why not boycott academics in Sudan, where a government-supported militia rapes and murders blacks? Why not boycott academics in Saudi Arabia, where no Jew or Christian is allowed to become a citizen? Why not boycott academics in Iran, where courts throw Jews into jail on trumped-up espionage charges? For that matter, why not boycott academics in all countries that have adopted Islamic law (sharia), which discriminates against women and makes it a capital offence for Muslims to renounce Islam?

Indeed, as in the struggle against apartheid South Africa, we have learned that colonial and racist regimes do not voluntarily give up their oppressive control; they must be compelled to do so. This is where international civil society plays a crucial role, particularly in the absence of any pressure from world powers to end injustice.

Israeli academic institutions are implicated in the various forms of oppression exercised against the Palestinians. Israeli research institutes, think tanks, and academic departments have historically granted legitimacy to the work of academics who advocate ethnic cleansing, apartheid, denial of refugee rights, and other discriminatory policies against the Palestinians, whether in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), inside Israel, or in exile.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) [1] 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.

The former member of Pink Floyd and the writer of its timeless song “Another Brick in the Wall” called off his Tel Aviv gig, heeding an appeal by many Palestinian artists and cultural organizations and their supporters around the world who feared such a performance, particularly by a respected and progressive artist like Waters, would have given legitimacy to Israel’s colonial Wall, condemned as illegal by the International Court of Justice at The Hague in July 2004.

The former member of Pink Floyd and the writer of its timeless song “Another Brick in the Wall” called off his Tel Aviv gig, heeding an appeal by many Palestinian artists and cultural organizations and their supporters around the world who feared such a performance, particularly by a respected and progressive artist like Waters, would have given legitimacy to Israel’s colonial Wall, condemned as illegal by the International Court of Justice at The Hague in July 2004.

Thirty years later, on Land Day 2006, 68 percent of Israel's Jewish population have stated in a public opinion poll that they “do not want to live next to an Arab”, and a vast majority is voting for political programs that ignore the rights and needs of the Palestinians and perpetuate an apartheid system in Israel itself, convincing the prominent Israeli journalist, Gideon Levy, to describe Israel on the eve of the elections as “a nation in which racism is the real common denominator uniting us all.” Military occupation and colonization continue unabated in the West Bank, including eastern