Sep 27, 2010

#BDS: S. African university mulls BGU boycott

University of Johannesburg to vote on termination of collaboration agreement with Ben-Gurion University. 'Boycott might risk activities that strengthen co-existence,' BGU president warns

Academic boycott in works: Ben-Gurion University officials said Monday they were closely following political groups affiliated with Islam pressuring South Africa's University of Johannesburg to impose an academic boycott on the southern Israel institution.

Such boycott would see the termination of a signed agreement on a joint research project between the two schools.The project aims to solve water contamination problems in a reservoir near Johannesburg.

An official response issued Monday evening read, "The leadership of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) is deeply disturbed by the attempts of certain political groups...applying pressure on the University of Johannesburg to boycott BGU and cancel a signed research collaboration agreement."

#BDS: 'A one-state solution in Israel is difficult but not impossible'

We often hear the word apartheid used to describe Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Is it comparable to the South African apartheid?

It is similar but not identical. If we refer to Palestinians inside Israel proper, who are Israeli citizens, then their situation is better. They can individually reach similar standards as Jews in Israel, which Blacks in South Africa could not.

The situation of Palestinians in the occupied territories is much worse than had been in South Africa. These Palestinians are in constant existential danger of losing their jobs, homes, lives simply because they are Palestinians. And the situation in Gaza is still different where 1.5 million people have been incarcerated inside the strip.

The term apartheid is symbolic as far as the international community is concerned because when it decided that there was apartheid in South Africa it caused things to change there and now it can help change the situation in Israel-

As an Israeli academic do you find the call for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, including academic boycott, ethical?

Yes. In South Africa too many conscientious academics supported the boycott call even though that hurt them. So we have to sometimes support things that hurt us. Next, it is the non-violence of the act that is ethical. The number of academics in Israel against the occupation is quite small, and the university should be more democratic space than the state. I support a boycott of the institution and not individuals. BDS is gradually working and more Israelis are now supporting it and they are being challenged by the state.

#BDS: Al-Ma'sara calls for boycott of Israeli products

Today the IOF repressed the weekly protest in al-Ma’sara village shooting tear gas canisters and sound bombs at the demonstrators causing dozens to suffer from teargas inhalation. Protesters set fire to a number of Israeli products next to the Apartheid Wall, to demonstrate the boycott and their rejection of the occupation, which penetrates all aspects of Palestinian lives.

The protest saw the participation of villagers and international solidarity activists and began in front of the school al-Zawahra marching towards the area of the Apartheid wall. The demonstrators carried Palestinian flags, singing national slogans and called for the boycott of Israeli products. Boxes containing the boycotted products were also carried. The media coordinator of the Popular Committee in Bethlehem, Muhammad Brijiyeh, gave a speech in which he talked about the occupier’s products that invade the Palestinian markets. He stressed the importance of its boycott and then the demonstrators burned the boxes containing the occupier’s products. After a few minutes the IOF shot gas and sound bombs to the demonstrators causing dozens to suffer from teargas inhalation. The demonstrators replied then by throwing stones.

#BDS: American Universities Say Yes to Apartheid

A letter from Gaza
 appeared on the Web dated September 24, 2010. It was from a group of Gaza academics and students and sought to publicize the fact that eight American universities have recently signed agreements with various Israeli universities to offer U.S. students free semester long programs in Israel. Among the American universities participating in this venture are Harvard, Columbia and Michigan.
The Gaza academics and students expressed shock at this turn of events. And so they might given the fact that they are sitting in an outdoor prison of Israeli making and have seen their educational institutions both starved of resources by an Israeli blockade and literally bombed to rubble by Israeli warplanes.
The situation in Gaza is but the worst of a bad situation for all Palestinians, including those in the West Bank and Israel proper. When it comes to education in all of these locales apartheid policies are in place to interfere with Palestinian students and teachers and minimize the educational experience. Actually, this is part of an unspoken strategy of cultural genocide. Such policies are directly or indirectly supported by the Israeli academic institutions to which the participating American universities now want to send their students.

#BDS: لبنان: مؤتمر “غيّرلو النظام” يدعو لحملات توعية لمقاومة التطبيع مع العدو الاسرائيلي ومقاطعة الشركات الداعمة لاسرائيل

نقلا عن جريدة النهار عدد الاثنين 27 أيلول 2010
تحت شعار “غيّرلو النظام”، اجتمع اكثر من 500 شاب وشابة من “التحالف الوطني التقدمي” على مسرح رسالات في المركز الثقافي لبلدية الغبيري، حيث عقد “المؤتمر الوطني للشباب”، في حضور رئيس “حركة الشعب” النائب السابق نجاح واكيم ومسؤول “الجبهة الشعبية لتحرير فلسطين” في لبنان مروان عبد العال ورئيس الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي (جناح ابي حيدر) علي حيدر.
بداية، القى كلمة الافتتاح الزميل ابرهيم دسوقي، قال فيها: “ان نظاما يصادر وعي الناس وارادتهم في عصبيات مريضة متخلفة، ويمنع عنهم حقهم في صنع الحياة، ويجبرهم على اجترار ماضيه المتخم بالتوحش والموت والتبعية هو ليس نظاماً لدولة ولكنه نظام لعصابة.
ان نظامنا يمنع من الحريات انفعها، حرية الرأي والمعتقد، حرية التعليم والعمل، حرية التقدم والأمل… ويبيح من الحريات افظعها، حرية التعصب والجهل، حرية التخلع وتعاطي المخدرات، حرية النهب والقتل على الهوية، ليس نظاماً لدولة ولكنه نظام العصابة”. واضاف: “لا أمل باصلاح هذا النظام لان العيب في اساساته، من هنا يجب ان نبدأ.
يجب ان نبدأ بطلب التغيير، وبالعمل من اجل التغيير (…) نحن قادرون على تحقيقه، ومن أجله علينا ان نبني القوة التقدمية الشابة، المتجاوزة للعصبيات المتخلفة”.
ثم عقدت الجلسة الاولى وتضمنت مناقشة النظامين السياسي والاقتصادي، وفي الجلسة الثانية تمت مناقشة حقوق اللاجئين الفلسطينيين والمقاومة.
وفي موضوع المقاومة، دعت خطة العمل الى “نشر ثقافة المقاومة بين الشباب ضد كل اشكال الهيمنة الاستعمارية والرجعية، اضافة الى تنظيم حملات توعية من اجل تفعيل مقاومة التطبيع مع العدو الاسرائيلي ومقاطعة الشركات الداعمة لاسرائيل، اضافة الى تفعيل المقاومة المدنية ضد الطبقة السياسية المهيمنة…”.
في الختام، تم تشكيل لجنة متابعة لوضع خطة عمل بناء على الاقتراحات المقدمة من المشاركين.

#BDS: Ozzy Osbourne arrives in Israel

English rock star lands in Holy Land with wife Sharon ahead of Tuesday's Ozzfest at Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park

Prince of Darkness in Israel : English rock star Ozzy Osbourne arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on a private plane Sunday evening, along with his family members.

Osbourne and his wife, Sharon, who also served as his personal manager, held a press conference at a Tel Aviv hotel.

Asked whether he had any hesitations about visiting Israel, on the backdrop of the latest cancellations by international artists, he replied that he tries to stay away from politics because "I wouldn't know what I was talking about."

His wife added that "Britain has the IRA and no one cancels concerts there." Asked why it took him so long to arrive, Osbourne said, "I don't know, I was drunk for years."


By Professor Ran Greenstein
Sunday Independent - South Africa - [26_09_2010]

Can one live a normal life in an abnormal society? The anti-apartheid
movement believed that you could not, and must not. It set out to
disrupt the comfortable lives of white South Africans, to force them
to understand that change was necessary. One tactic chosen in this
regard was boycotts and sanctions. Other campaigns against oppressive
regimes have used similar tactics, selecting targets in order to
maximize strategic advantage. The closer the target was to the core
identity of oppressive groups, the more likely it was to be effective.
Thus, it made sense to boycott South African cricket and rugby teams
to disrupt the sense of normality of sports-mad white South Africans.
This tactic would not work in, say, Burma or Sudan, whose oppressive
elites have limited interest in sports. Using the same logic, it made
sense to boycott Chilean wine and Argentinian football, when both
countries were under military dictatorships, but not the other way

When we consider the campaign against the Israeli occupation and
oppression of Palestinians, a careful choice of targets must guide
action. While Israeli Jews are not the only ones who violate human
rights, as the stronger side they are the chief culprits today. Their
greatest source of vulnerability is the obsessive need to feel an
integral part of the West and the global community. This feeling is
particularly strong among the elites, including academics. It is
central to their professional identity and it contributes to a sense
of political complacency. With their eyes turned to the West,
Palestinians living under conditions of military occupation and
suffering from massive violation of human rights have become invisible
to them. This is the challenge, then: how to use the quest for
normality and legitimacy in order to force ordinary people to move
against extraordinary circumstances?

With this in mind, a group of academics at the University of
Johannesburg (UJ), with the support of fellow academics elsewhere,
have started a campaign to sever UJ’s relations with an Israeli
academic institution – Ben-Gurion University (BGU). The campaign calls
on UJ to suspend an agreement for scientific cooperation until Israel
abides by international law, and the university takes a stand against
the occupation.

As one of the signatories to a petition supporting the campaign, I
would like to explain some of the reasons behind it (without speaking
on behalf of any other signatory). But first, to clarify: the campaign
targets relations between institutions. It is not aimed at individual
academics of whatever political persuasions. It attacks oppressive
practices rather than political views. It seeks to enhance exchanges
and debates between different opinions rather than close them up. In
other words, it is seen as an educational tool that opens us new
opportunities to learn more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and
allow us to make an intervention on the side of protecting and
promoting human rights for all.

Why use this particular tactic? There is nothing specific about BGU –
it collaborates with the military, it turns a blind eye towards
oppressive practices, and it practices discrimination against
Palestinian students – but all Israeli academic institutions do the
same. In a sense, signing the petition is a way of expressing concern
about the broader context of occupation, denial of human rights and
political oppression in Israel. It is unlikely on its own to change
anything and the chances that BGU would yield to demands to renounce
the occupation are extremely low.

At the same time, the potential educational value of this initiative
is great, both in relation to South African and Israeli audiences.  It
sends a clear message that there is strong and growing disapproval of
Israel’s practices, which are illegal and immoral, and that those who
fight such practices within Israeli universities can expect solidarity
from fellow academics elsewhere.

For this to work, it is important that it should not be seen as a
punitive and externally imposed measure. Rather, it should be a step
towards forging international links of solidarity and activism with
Israeli and Palestinian progressive academics. Ideally it would help
create a counterweight to the increasing pressure from right-wing
forces that seek to silence critical voices at Israeli universities,
including BGU.

Ultimately, this may be the most important contribution of the
initiative: to side with those fighting for change from within. Local
activists in Israel/Palestine – of both national groups - are subject
to enormous pressure internally, and the only way they could sustain a
campaign for change is by maintaining a constant exchange of
information, solidarity, and a flow of moral and material assistance
from the outside.  It is only in dialogue between all the relevant
constituencies that the campaign can move forward.