Call for an Australian boycott of research and cultural links with Israel
John Docker & Ghassan Hage
Despite widespread international condemnation for its policy of violent repression against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories, the Israeli government appears impervious to moral appeals from world leaders. It is clear that while the Palestinians are rightly requested to reign in their extremists, the Israelis have elected their extremists to power. The slow, dehumanising and relentless colonisation of the West Bank and Gaza that has been continuing unabated in recent years has now taken an ugly murderous turn of immense proportions. How long are we, the citizens of a Western democracy, going to accept the silence of our government in the face of the rampages of the Israeli army in the West Bank? How long are we going to look passively at the Israeli crimes of war perpetrated daily and systematically, not as something anomalous, but as a matter of national policy? In the face of our government's unwillingness or inability to act, civil society must step in to exert pressure against the continuation of this savagely anachronistic act of colonisation. In a globalised world, our passivity as citizens of the world in the face of such inhumanity will stain all of us.
Academics and intellectuals as always can play an important role in fostering the growth of such a non-violent movement within civil society. It is in this spirit that we call for a boycott of research and cultural links with Israel. We urge our colleagues not to attend conferences in Israel; to pressure our universities to suspend any existing exchange or linkage arrangements; and to refuse to distribute scholarship and academic position information. We note that while some academics and intellectuals in Israel oppose the government and some also are involved in cooperative Israeli/Palestinian research projects, the vast majority have either supported the Israeli Army onslaught on the Palestinians, or failed to voice any significant protest against it. The boycott we propose will inevitably also adversely affect those who don't deserve it, and we regret that this has to happen. We ask our Israeli colleagues and friends to bear with us in solidarity. They know as well as we do that what they will endure because of these boycotts is minimal compared to what the Palestinian people and their academics continue to endure. As with boycotts against apartheid South Africa, urgent international action is now required to stop the massacres perpetrated against the Palestinian people.
John Docker is an Australian cultural theorist based at the Australian National University whose most recent book is 1492: Poetics of Diaspora (Continuum, 2001). Ghassan Hage teaches anthropology at the University of Sydney and is the author of White Nation (Pluto Press Australia 1998, Routledge 2000) and Against Paranoid Nationalism (Pluto Press Australia 2003). This text was originally published in the Higher Education supplement of The Australian, 22 May 2002, as a letter signed by the authors and 90 other Australian academics.
© borderlands ejournal 2003