Nov 6, 2010

#BDS: From Johannesburg to Oslo, the Israel academic boycott spreads

With the 29 September 2010 decision by the Senate of the University of Johannesburg “not to continue a long-standing relationship with Ben Gurion University (BGU) in Israel in its present form” and to set conditions “for the relationship to continue,” a new campaign for the academic boycott of Israel was born at the southern tip of the African continent.[1] Almost in tandem, on 11 October, at the northern tip of the European continent, a fresh academic and cultural boycott was announced in Oslo, endorsed by 100 leading Norwegian figures in the academy, culture and sports.[2]

Two weeks earlier, the European Platform for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (EPACBI) was established, after a successful meeting in Paris of 50 representatives of academic boycott campaigns from 9 European countries and a PACBI representative. The meeting was called at the initiative of the French campaign, AURDIP (Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine), and BRICUP (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine).

Across the Atlantic, in Montreal, Quebec (Canada), on 22 October, more than 600 BDS supporters and organizers — academics, students, trade unionists, feminists, LGBT activists, indigenous rights advocates, etc. – gathered at the particularly inspiring opening of the BDS Conference there, breaking into smaller sectoral groups over the next two days to plan, debate, strategize, share, critique and evaluate. The academic BDS workshop witnessed one of the liveliest discussions about the many campus divestment and other academic boycott campaigns planned across Canada for this new school year. Student and faculty BDS supporters at McGill University and Concordia University have already announced a joint campaign to scuttle exchange programs with Israel’s Technion University.[3] At Carleton University, Ottawa, an ambitious divestment drive against companies profiting from Israel’s occupation and violations of international law has already been launched earlier this year.[4]

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