Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 26, 2009

Statement on Gaza

Filed under: Palestine — louisproyect @ 8:48 pm

From Steven Salaita Assistant Professor, English, Virginia Tech

International Writers and Scholars Endorse Academic Boycott of Israel

We stand in support of the indigenous Palestinian people in Gaza, who are fighting for their survival against one of the most brutal uses of state power in both this century and the last.

We condemn Israel’s recent (December 2008/ January 2009) breaches of international law in the Gaza Strip, which include the bombing of densely-populated neighborhoods, illegal deployment of the chemical white phosphorous, and attacks on schools, ambulances, relief agencies, hospitals, universities, and places of worship. We condemn Israel’s restriction of access to media and aid workers.

We reject as false Israel’s characterization of its military attacks on Gaza as retaliation. Israel’s latest assault on Gaza is part of its longtime racist jurisprudence against its indigenous Palestinian population, during which the Israeli state has systematically dispossessed, starved, tortured, and economically exploited the Palestinian people.

We reject as untrue the Israeli government’s claims that the Palestinians use civilians as human shields, and that Hamas is an irredeemable terrorist organization. Without endorsing its platforms or philosophy, we recognize Hamas as a democratically elected ruling party. We do not endorse the regime of any existing Arab state, and call for the upholding of internationally mandated human rights and democratic elections in all Arab states.

We call upon our fellow writers and academics in the United States to question discourses that justify and rationalize injustice, and to address Israeli assaults on civilians in Gaza as one of the most important moral issues of our time.

We call upon institutions of higher education in the U.S. to cut ties with Israeli academic institutions, dissolve study abroad programs in Israel, and divest institutional funds from Israeli companies, using the 1980s boycott against apartheid South Africa as a model.

We call on all people of conscience to join us in boycotting Israeli products and institutions until a just, democratic state for all residents of Palestine/Israel comes into existence.

Mohammed Abed
Elmaz Abinader
Diana Abu-Jaber
Ali Abunimah
Opal Palmer Adisa
Deborah Al-Najjar
Evelyn Azeeza Alsultany
Amina Baraka
Amiri Baraka
George Bisharat
Sherwin Bitsui
Breyten Breytenbach
Van Brock
Hayan Charara
Alison Hedge Coke
Lara Deeb
Vicente Diaz
Marilyn Hacker
Mechthild Hart
Sam Hamill
Randa Jarrar
Fady Joudah
Mohja Kahf
Rima Najjar Kapitan
Persis Karim
J. Kehaulani Kaunanui
Haunani Kay-Trask
David Lloyd
Sunaina Maira
Nur Masalha
Khaled Mattawa
Daniel AbdalHayy Moore
Aileen Moreton-Robinson
Nadine Naber
Marcy Newman
Viet Nguyen
Simon J. Ortiz
Vijay Prashad
Steven Salaita
Therese Saliba
Sarita See
Deema Shehabi
Matthew Shenoda
Naomi Shihab Nye
Magid Shihade
Vandana Shiva
Noenoe Silva
Andrea Smith
Ahdaf Soueif
Ghada Talhami
Frank X. Walker
Robert Warrior


6 Comments »

  1. This call for academic boycotts again. I’m not casting moral aspersions on any of these writers, just tactical ones–shouldn’t we be boycotting our own economy?? Who pays for all those weapons, Santa Claus? It seems silly to imagine that the steps should be an academic boycott and divestment, apparently meant to drum up opposition to Israel, to be followed by the project of building popular, then legislative/presidential support for a 2-state solution. There already IS support for such a solution, the issue is turning it into action (pragmatic issues of economic viability and withdrawing the settlers I don’t mean to take up here). What’s easier to explain to a populace subject to endless disinformation—the need for an academic boycott because Israeli academic institutions are tout court complicit with the occupation (whatever that means) and the symbolic effects will work in favor of a peace agenda, or simply saying, Israel is carrying out an illegal occupation w/ American weapons, and we should stop supporting it and pressure for a peaceful resolution along equitable lines?
    http://www.maxajl.com

    Comment by max1284 — January 27, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

  2. “until a just, democratic state for all residents of Palestine/Israel comes into existence.”

    Where do you get “a 2-state solution” from the wording quoted above in the statement? Obviously the only just solution is a (as in single) democratic, secular state with equal rights under law for all citizens of any religious background. Of course action against your own government’s complicity in Israeli crimes is necessary but not exclusive of building widespread support for the tactic of boycotting Israel “tout court” in the manner of pre-apartheid South Africa to demonstrate it’s illegitimacy.

    Comment by belgish — January 28, 2009 @ 1:52 am

  3. Actually, the only “just” solution is a dissolution of the entire state-system in the Middle East, and, indeed, the world, and the institution of libertarian socialism. Your desire for a “state” makes it pretty clear that you have a strange understanding of what it “just”; your desire for a “secular state” seems to mean that religion should have nothing to do with the construction of political communities. It’s within a coercive state structure that religion becomes a problem. In any event, once we’re done jerking off, we can move on to feasible solutions.

    Right now a one-state solution is not feasible. A window of opportunity for a two-state solution may be closed. May not be. In 10 years if America reversed its policy of arming and diplomatically supporting Israel and instead applied pressure for a two-state solution, Israel was wracked with economic dysfunction (what would happen w/o American support), and Hamas was armed with rockets capable of hitting all of Israel, would a “two-state solution” be possible, or impossible? A one-state solution? These one-state proposals are very nice, but seriously misguided. It is very to push for what is “just,” but more important to struggle for what is feasible (admittedly, itself a political determination that can be used to corral opposing or radical views from the discussion, but still, I think, one with an “objective core.”).

    And frankly, all I was responding to was the general idea of a boycott (again, an academic boycott is repellent.) This sentence is a particular gem, though:
    “We call on all people of conscience to join us in boycotting Israeli products and institutions until a just, democratic state for all residents of Palestine/Israel comes into existence.”

    Yes. Boycott Israeli products and institutions for what, 30 years? 40? 50? 60? How long shall we wait for the world to agree on the illegitimacy of the two-state solution and move to a one-state solution WHEN A TWO-STATE SOLUTION ALREADY HAS POLITICAL SUPPORT?
    Furthermore, we’ll take your last statement:
    “Of course action against your own government’s complicity in Israeli crimes is necessary but not exclusive of building widespread support for the tactic of boycotting Israel “tout court” in the manner of pre-apartheid South Africa to demonstrate it’s illegitimacy.”
    Yea, I can imagine the 40-year campaign to build resonance for this message while the Palestinian people rot in their camps. Christ.
    http://www.maxajl.com

    Comment by max1284 — January 28, 2009 @ 3:37 am

  4. make “political support” “social support,” or “widespread legitimacy”

    Comment by max1284 — January 28, 2009 @ 3:39 am

  5. the “two state solution” is an apartheid solution. the 1990s showed that and the second intifada rejected the implications of the “two-state solution peace process”: more settlements not less. it has no basis in “reality”. nearly 500,000 jews in the west bank will not be removed by any Israeli government. And what of the rights of Palestinian-Israeli “citizens” and of the refugees? There is a reason a “two-state solution” is supported by the U.S., Israeli and Arab vassal dictatorships. Finally, divestment and boycott is politically symbolic just as it was in the South African case and importantly it has always exactly been meant to attack the undemocratic institutions here in the U.S and an anti-racist movement with Arab and Muslims in the lead.

    Comment by not quite — January 28, 2009 @ 2:08 pm

  6. This is pure silliness. There is a two-state solution backed by left-wing activists, academics, many Palestinians, the entire Arab world, etc. etc. etc.: the Saudi Plan. It is ALSO backed by the American population, if not our government. This is the two-state solution, not the “two-state solution.” Stop being divisive! Two-states is not ideal but it is reachable in the short-term. One state is better and is not reachable in the short-term. No states is the best. We have to move step-by-step.
    http://www.maxajl.com

    Comment by max1284 — January 29, 2009 @ 8:33 pm


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