Saturday, December 13, 2014

Academic Groups For and Against BDS

Academic Groups For and Against BDS

by Stephen Lendman

BDS is vital. Important. The single most effective initiative against Israeli ruthlessness. Gaining adherents. Including academic groups.

On December 10 (Human Rights Day), a Palestinian BDS National Committee called Israel "neither a democratic state based on the rule of law, nor a temporary occupying power as defined in international law…"

It's "a criminal regime of settler colonization and apartheid."

"We call on people of conscience worldwide to intensify BDS campaigns to isolate Israel’s regime of settler colonialism and apartheid in the academic, cultural, economic and military fields, in order to bring about Israel’s full compliance with its obligations under international law." 

"This must include pressuring companies to end complicit business activity and institutions to divest." 

"Pressure must also be increased on governments to finally adopt effective measures, starting with a comprehensive military embargo, as well as the suspension of free-trade and cooperation agreements with Israel."

Important academic groups agree. To one degree or another. Supporting BDS. Until occupation harshness ends. 

Palestinian self-determination achieved. Universally recognized. 
Except perhaps by Israel, America and a few small Pacific islands it supports.

BDS supportive academic groups include the American Studies Association, Association for Asian American Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies Association and Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.

The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) stops short of BDS endorsement. While defending the right of academics to urge boycotting Israel.

A November 24 resolution "(a)ffirm(ing) that: 

(1) calls for institutional boycott, divestment and/or sanctions are protected free speech and legitimate forms of non-violent political action;

(2) the right of MESA members to engage in open discussion of the BDS movement at the Annual Meeting and other forums; and 

(3) the right of the membership of other organizations to discuss, debate, and endorse or not endorse the BDS campaign.

Deplores intimidation directed against organizations who have adopted resolutions, such as the American Studies Association and the Association for Asian American Studies.

Urges MESA to organize discussions at its Annual Meeting and for the MESA Board to create opportunities in 2015 to discuss the academic boycott and consider an appropriate position for MESA."

Others academic groups oppose BDS. Or withhold support. Including Scholars for Israel and Palestine (SIP).

Calling themselves "Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine, Pro-Peace." "The Third Narrative." On December 8, 20 of its members headlined "Israel: A Time for Personal Sanctions," saying:

"A central obstacle to a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians is the continuing occupation of the West Bank." 

"Accordingly, we call on the United States and the European Union to impose personal sanctions on a cluster of Israeli political leaders and public figures who lead efforts to insure permanent Israeli occupation of the West Bank and to annex all or parts of it unilaterally in violation of international law."

Security Council Resolution 194 mandated diaspora Palestinians wishing to return home be permitted to do so.

SC Resolution 242 prohibited "the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every State in the area can live in security."

Demanded Israel withdraw from territories occupied in June 1967.
International law prohibits acquiring territory by force. Occupying it permanently. Annexing it. According to B'Tselem:

"The establishment of settlements in the West Bank violates international humanitarian law which establishes principles that apply during war and occupation. (S)ettlements lead to the infringement of international human rights law."

"Fourth Geneva "prohibits an occupying power from transferring citizens from its own territory to the occupied territory (Article 49)." 

"The Hague Regulations prohibit an occupying power from undertaking permanent changes in the occupied area unless these are due to military needs in the narrow sense of the term, or unless they are undertaken for the benefit of the local population."

"The establishment of settlements results in the violation of the rights of Palestinians as enshrined in international human rights law."

Including "infring(ing) on the right to self-determination, equality, property, an adequate standard of living, and freedom of movement."

SIP signatories urge sanctions on "four powerful Israeli political leaders and public figures who promote…unjust, unlawful, and destructive policies in their most extreme and dangerous form." 

"These four explicitly support policies of permanent occupation and unilateral annexation." 

"They reject efforts to negotiate peace…They advocate and implement unilateral actions designed to preclude a negotiated peace." 

"They are therefore legitimate targets for personal sanctions by the US and the EU." They include:

(1) Naftali Bennett. Jewish Home party leader. Economy Minister. Former Yesha Council director general. A hardline umbrella settler organization.

Promoting unlimited construction. In February 2012, Bennett publishing a pro-settlement narrative.

Flatly rejecting any possibility of ending Israel's occupation. Or permitting Palestinian self-determination.

Favoring de-Arabization. Unilaterally annexing most West Bank land. Incorporating it into Israel. Regardless of international law.

Jerusalem Israel's exclusive capital. Before announced March 2015 elections, threatened to dissolve Netanyahu's coalition unless new and expanded settlement construction continued.

(2)Uri Ariel. Jewish Home party MK. Construction and Housing Minister. Former Yesha Council secretary general.

Explicitly urging "just one state between the Jordan River and the sea, and that is the State of Israel."

Advocating unlimited settlement construction. On stolen Palestinian land. Areas Israel wants exclusively for Jews.

Systematically dispossessing Palestinians. Violating international law. Fundamentally opposing peace.

Wants Al-Aqsa (Islam's third most holy site) replaced by a Third (Jewish) Temple.

(3) Moshe Feiglin. Likud party member. Deputy Knesset speaker. His annexationist policy exceeds Bennett's.

Calling for complete West Bank/Gaza annexation. Permanent rule over disenfranchised Palestinians.

Ethnically cleansing them. Others remaining conditionally. Accepting Israeli authority. Unchallenged supremacy. Foregoing self-determination.

Britain prohibits Feiglin from entering its territory. For "propagat(ing) views which foment and provoke others to serious criminal acts and also foster(ing) hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK."

(4) Zeev Hever (aka Zambish). Amana (Covenant) secretary general. Involved in developing exclusively Jewish Judea, Samaria, Golan, Galilee, Negev, Gush Katif communities.

SIP signatories call him "one of the most persistent and influential organizers of (illegal) settlement construction."

In 1984, he was arrested. Sentenced to 11 months imprisonment. For trying to plant an explosive charge. In Palestinian leader Ahmed Natshe's car. 

He systematically opposes peace initiatives. Wants negotiated efforts rendered impossible.

SIP signatories include:

Gershon Shafir
University of California, San Diego

Jeff Weintraub
Independent Scholar

Michael Walzer
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

Todd Gitlin
Columbia University

Sam Fleischacker
University of Illinois at Chicago

Alan Wolfe
Boston College

Alan Jay Weisbard
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Rebecca Lesses
Ithaca College

Joe Lockard
Arizona State University

Zachary J. Braiterman
Syracuse University

Irene Tucker
University of California, Irvine

Michael Kazin
Georgetown University

Steven J. Zipperstein
Stanford University

Jeffry V. Mallow
Loyola University Chicago

Ernst Benjamin
Independent Scholar

Rachel F. Brenner,
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Chaim Seidler-Feller
University of California, Los Angeles

Jonathan Malino
Guilford College

Miriam Kastner
University of California, San Diego

Barbara Risman
University of Illinois, Chicago

Netanyahu was noticeably omitted from their target list. Instead of top-featuring him. For crimes of war, against humanity and genocide.

Heading Israel's most extremist ever government. Fascist. Racist. Ruthless. Lawless. Exceeding Sharonian evil. Enforcing harder than ever occupation harshness.

Waging naked aggression at his discretion. Deploring peace. Opposing Palestinian self-determination. Denying them virtually all rights everyone deserves.

Wanting unlimited settlement construction. Jerusalem as Israel's exclusive capital. Palestinian resources solely for Israeli use.

Other policies contrary to international law. Israeli Basic Laws. High Court decisions. Why he's excluded from SIP's list, signatories must explain.

Plus numerous other Israeli hardliners. Lawless extremists. Belonging in prison. Not high office. Along with SIP's four targets.

The tip of the iceberg. Lots more than sanctions needed. Full accountability. Prosecution for high crimes. 

Including involvement in Operation Protective Edge. Previous Israeli naked aggression. Daily repression. Violating virtually all humanitarian and human right laws. All UN resolutions Israel rejects.

Crimes SIP signatories ignored. Targeting too few Israeli officials. Omitting culpable previous ones.

Past and present IDF war criminals. Supporting meaningless wrist-slap sanctions. Instead of accountability for offenses too serious to ignore.

Longstanding Palestinian suffering continues. Sanctioning four Israeli officials mocks justice.

Israel must be held accountable. In an independent international tribunal. With teeth. 

Its culpable government and military officials prosecuted. Anything less denies justice. Lets business as usual continue.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.