January 29, 2009

Boycott news: send the word, the Yanks are coming!!!

My goodness! Academics across the pond have formed a US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and panic has already set in at Ha'aretz over it. First here's the group's endorsement of the campaign called for by many groups in and from Palestine:
As educators and scholars of conscience in the United States, we fully support this call. We urge our colleagues, nationally, regionally, and internationally, to stand up against Israel’s ongoing scholasticide and to support the non-violent call for academic boycott, disinvestment, and sanctions.

If you wish to endorse this call for an academic and cultural boycott, please email us at: uscom4acbi [at] gmail.com. If you are willing to indicate your support publicly, please send us your name and institutional/organizational affiliation (for identification purposes only).

Ha'aretz notes the concern in Israel:
While Israeli academics have grown used to such news from Great Britain, where anti-Israel groups several times attempted to establish academic boycotts, the formation of the United States movement marks the first time that a national academic boycott movement has come out of America. Israeli professors are not sure yet how big of an impact the one-week-old movement will have, but started discussing the significance of and possible counteractions against the campaign.
It further notes just how remarkable an achievement it has been to get the boycott off the ground in America at all:
"The response has been remarkable given the extraordinary hold that lobbying organizations like AIPAC exert over U.S. politics and over the U.S. media, and in particular given the campaign of intimidation that has been leveled at academics who dare to criticize Israel's policies," Lloyd wrote in an e-mail to Haaretz Monday. "Within a short weekend since the posting of the press release, more than 80 academics from all over the country have endorsed the action and the numbers continue to grow."
So what to do? Quick change the subject:
Asked if the group would accept the endorsement of Hamas supporters, Lloyd said, "We have no a priori policy with regard to the membership or affiliation of supporters of the boycott so long as they are in accord with the main aims stated in the press release."

He argued that, "on several occasions Hamas has sought direct negotiations with Israel, a pursuit that constitutes de facto recognition of Israel, and has openly discussed abandoning its call for the destruction of the state of Israel conditional on reciprocal guarantees from Israel."
Damn! he had an answer. Change the subject again:
Lloyd wrote that to the best of his knowledge, all supporters of the anti-Israel boycott were also opposed to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Asked if logic wouldn't dictate that he and his colleagues boycott themselves, he responded, "Self-boycott is a difficult concept to realize. But speaking for myself, I would have supported and honored such a boycott had it been proposed by my colleagues overseas."
And if that fails, have a moan about Durban, that might help.
The idea of an academic boycott against Israel originated in 2001 at the "World Conference Against Racism" in Durban, South Africa.
Uh oh, where? Did someone say that the Gaza assault is Israel's Sharpeville? Oh yes, I did.


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