Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions: A New Path to Peace

 

Video and Edited Transcript 
Lena Ibrahim & Andrew Kadi
Transcript No. 410 (24 July 2014)

24 July 2014
The Palestine Center
Washington, DC

 

Paul Racco: Welcome everyone here and tuning in on our live feed; welcome to the Palestine Center. The interns here at the Palestine Center – Molly, Rebecca, and myself, Paul – have organized this Summer Lecture Series entitled “Palestine Abroad: The Role of the International Community in the Palestine Issue.” Today’s lecture, “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions: A New Path for Peace,” is the first of our three events happening over the next three weeks. Next week on July 30th we will be featuring “Interest from All: Foreign States in Israel-Palestine Negotiations” with Michele Dunne and Muhammad Jenab Tutunji. On August 5th we will be featuring “International Organizations: A New Forum for Discussion” with Nidal Sliman and Phyllis Bennis.

Today’s event, “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions: A New Path for Peace,” comes at what is, sadly, a most crucial time in the pursuit of justice in Palestine. With over 700 Palestinians killed in the past two weeks in what has become Israel’s latest onslaught on Gaza, many of us are left feeling helpless, asking, “What can we do?”

Lena Ibrahim and Andrew Kadi are here to present the growing grassroots movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions as what international citizens who are concerned and alarmed by what is happening to the Palestinian people can do to affect change in Palestine. Lena Ibrahim is a first-generation Palestinian-American undergraduate student studying global affairs. She organizes with various Students for Justice in Palestine groups in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia in the DMV SJP Coalition. Lena Ibrahim is a member of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the American Studies Association Academic and Community Activism Caucus, which passed an Israeli academic boycott resolution during the 2013 American Studies Association Conference. She has been a BDS community and student organizer for three years and is actively organizing for social justice and solidarity-building. Andrew Kadi is a human rights activist, steering committee member of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and occasional contributor to The Guardian’s “Comment is Free,” Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss, Left Turn and other publications. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce Andrew Kadi as our first speaker.

Andrew Kadi: Good afternoon everyone. I think that if you’re here at the Palestine Center, you understand by and large what is happening with the Palestinian people. To go through that for those who maybe don’t, and to summarize what the Palestinians have been through, I would say that Israel, including its preceding militias, has been displacing, dispossessing, discriminating, and otherwise oppressing Palestinians for over seven decades now. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza live under a military occupation, with those in Gaza under siege.

As I assume most of you have been watching the news, you know that well over 700 people in Gaza have been killed and a significant chunk – somewhere between 75 and 80 percent – have been civilians. Defense for International Children said yesterday they are investigating 76 additional cases of children being killed. Palestinian refugees around the world are banned from returning to their homeland. Palestinians in Jerusalem, not often spoken of, are in a status of limbo where Israel can strip them of Jerusalem residency, rather than recognize that they are part of an occupied population. Palestinian citizens of Israel lack equality and face over 50 discriminatory laws, including the inability to live in cities across what is now Israel and the inability to buy land in a majority of what has become Israel. Altogether these policies are tantamount to ethnic cleansing and apartheid.

Given what’s happening in Gaza I want to read a quick excerpt of the “Goldstone Report” to put this talk in perspective. And let me know if you can’t hear me – I apologize; I keep stepping away from the mic a bit. This is the story of Khaled Abed Rabbo. He is the thirty year-old father of three describing the death of his two young daughters in Hizbat Abed Rabbo. This is January 7th, 2009. “On the seventh of January at 12:50 p.m. the Israeli army bulldozed our garden and the Israeli tanks positioned in front of our house. They started yelling at us through the speakers and asked us to leave the house. So I came out with my wife and my children; Souad, 8 years old, Samar, four years-old, and Amal, three years-old, and my mother, 60 years old. We were all holding white flags. The Israeli army was stationed right across from our house, so we stood by our entrance and were holding flags – white flags. The tanks were seven meters away from our house. They did not say anything to us. There were two soldiers sitting on top of the tank. One of them was eating chips; the other was eating chocolate. We were looking at them like, what are we supposed to do? Where should we go? We were surprised because all of a sudden there was a third soldier coming out of the tank and he started shooting at the children with no reason. No reason, with no explanation and no pretext. My daughter, three years-old, her stomach was hit and her intestines were coming out. So really I was amazed at how a soldier could be firing at my daughter. So I carried my daughter. She was three years old; she could hardly breathe – like I said her stomach was wounded. My other daughter was also wounded in her chest, so I took both of them, Samar and Amal, inside the house. My wife and my mother and my other daughter, Souad, were still outside. All of a sudden my wife joined me, carrying Souad. Her chest was wounded by many bullets. My mother, 60 years-old, she was carrying the white flag and was wounded on her forearm and also her stomach. So we were all inside the house and we started calling the RCIC, the ambulances – anyone to come and rescue us, but nobody came. All of a sudden we heard an ambulance, but then all of a sudden nothing, silence. Later we saw that the Israeli soldiers asked the ambulance drivers to come out of the car, to undress, and they bulldozed the ambulance with a tank.”

Why do I mention that story? You’ll notice that in that story there’s the callous behavior of Israeli soldiers eating chips and munching on chocolate. The question becomes, “Who provided those snacks?” Osem, one of the largest companies in Israel in food services, which has partnered with and funded the Jewish National Fund – which helps in displacing and dispossessing Palestinians and building parks on what was their land – has a government contract to supply the Israeli army with pasta and bamba, bamba being similar to chips. The Strauss Group, which is another large food services corporation, is a proud sponsor of the Golani Brigade. Who are the Golani? Haaretz writes the Golani Brigade “struggles with no small number of disciplinary problems and scandals caused by bad behavior ranging from revolts against commanders to abuse of Palestinians.” Also, the Golani Brigade is responsible for these T-shirts. On the right you can see a T-shirt produced by the Brigade that has a pregnant Palestinian woman, who’s Muslim, and the text in Hebrew reads, “One shot, two kills,” in reference to the baby the mother is carrying. On the Strauss website they say, “We see a mission and need to continue to provide our soldiers with support, to enhance their quality of life and service conditions, and sweeten their special moments. We have adopted the Golani Reconnaissance Platoon for over 30 years and provide them with an ongoing variety of food products for their training or missions and provide personal care packages for each soldier that completes the path. We have also adopted the Southern Shualeh Shimshon troops from the Givadi Platoon with the goal of improving their service conditions and being there at the front to spoil them with our best products.” Strauss combined with the large Israeli chocolate company Elite, so undoubtedly the chocolate that those soldiers were munching on was provided by the Strauss group.

Why do I mention these companies? Well, as you can see at the top here on Adalah-NY’s boycott flyer, Sabra Hummus and Tribe Hummus are listed. Sabra Hummus is a product owned by the Strauss group in Israel – in fact they are likely the driving force behind the product – and Tribe Hummus is completely owned by the Osem group. Additionally, you’ll see on this list, toward the bottom, the Max Brenner chocolate company, which is also owned by the Strauss group entirely.

So what is BDS and how did it come about? First I will say that the Palestinians have a history of using popular and nonviolent tactics – and if the computer can keep up with me, I will show you that as well. In the thirties, there was a well-known Palestinian general strike, part of the Arab Revolt of 1936-1939. And then in the eighties, during what is referred to as the First Intifada, Palestinians also scheduled similar strikes. In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that Israel’s Wall was illegal and called for it to halt it construction and for the wall to be dismantled. “The United Nations and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council should consider what further action is required to bring an end to this illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and the associated regime.” They also went on to call the construction of settlements “a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” One year later in 2005, a call came from Palestinian civil society. Over 170 organizations, trade unions, trade and labor unions, political coordinating committees, and so on joined forces to call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel similar to those carried out in South Africa.

The three tenets of that call include equality for those Palestinians who are now citizens of Israel, an end of Israel’s military occupation and dismantling of its wall, and respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194 and also generally under international law. That boycott includes an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. I won’t get too far into that, there are a lot of nuances to that, and it is not a blanket boycott the way the South Africa call for boycott of apartheid was. There are actually scenarios where artists can, in some cases, perform in Israel, or have, as well as where academic events were held in Israel. Those are the instances where those institutions have an actual explicit stance against Israel’s military occupation.

So what of South Africa? South Africa saw success in using boycott, divestment and sanctions as a tactic, first and foremost, and most famously through sports, and then also through culture. I think many people here have probably heard of Sun City where South Africa wooed artists to come and perform in a sort of luxury casino setting, and subsequently Steve Van Zandt organized a song protesting those who would go perform there. Additionally, corporations were affected in the South Africa boycott, and I think folks often question whether things can be affected. Coca-Cola was here; Motorola sold its subsidiary in South Africa. Even Pepsi pulled out of South Africa, and they got to a point where you can see here 134 companies pulling out and later this article about the domino effect of companies pulling out.

What is the value of BDS as a tactic? BDS focuses on the discourse of what Israel is doing. It’s not about a debate so much as it is an awareness-raising tool about what Israel is doing. Oftentimes we get caught up in, “Is occupation happening? Is it not?” And that’s been a very successful tool of Zionists here in the U.S., but in fact we know that occupation is an internationally recognized fact. The other thing I would say to that is we need to mobilize those people who already understand that but don’t have the necessary tool or tactic to address Israel’s military occupation. It’s a rights-based discourse, so it’s no longer about solutions or states – which are, in fact, the rights of Palestinians to decide, not so much those of us in the international community. It’s about human rights. It’s about a single Palestinian body, and it’s about an indigenous Palestinian population.

Boycott, divestment and sanctions addresses our complicity in the U.S. and internationally, and that includes everyone in this room who is a U.S. citizen, for example, but very likely anyone internationally as well. Israel is being singled out by the United States for $3.5 billion a year in aid, unlimited veto of UN resolutions criticizing its behavior, and non-profit status for organizations that directly support the Israeli military and Israeli settlements. This is a pattern that obviously recurs around the world in many countries, but we have an obligation to offset our tax money and to act where our governments are failing.

So what are the successes of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement today? And I’m going to go through this rather quickly, but I do want to share these with you. First and foremost is in the academic sphere. There was pressure on the University of Johannesburg to cancel their ties and a joint program with Ben-Gurion University, and subsequently they did. Actually, South Africans have been at the forefront of pushing the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions. Additionally, as you all may know, last year Stephen Hawking took the unprecedented step of canceling on the Conference of Presidents that President Shimon Peres was hosting in Israel. Additionally, in 2009, in the face of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, which killed over 1400 Palestinians in Gaza in a 22-day period, the U.S. Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was founded, which today has over a thousand academic endorsers across the United States. That has actually led to additional steps where, for example, the Asian-American Studies unanimously approved a resolution to academically boycott Israel. And then of course many of you know about the American Studies Association, which drew condemnation from significant number of Zionist groups across this country.

One of the benefits that comes out of a debate like the American Studies Association is that it makes spaces for our voices to be heard and to talk about the issues. For example you have Stephen Salaita, a Palestinian-American academic who is actually published in Salon.com, basically explaining why an academic boycott was appropriate. Going on to economic victories Adalah-NY, for example, had a boycott campaign against Israeli settlement-builder Lev Leviev. Through that campaign he lost a significant amount of money – and I’m just going to scroll through the headlines for the sake of time – but I will note that in 2010 his company explicitly stated that it is no longer involved in planning or building settlements. Maybe [it’s] not surprising [that] several years later they reneged on that promise. Nonetheless, they lost a significant amount of money.

Then you have the campaign against Veolia, which is the French multinational that’s actually been involved in building and operating Israel’s Jerusalem light rail, which connects West Jerusalem with Israeli settlements in the East. Veolia today has lost over $23 billion in contracts globally. That doesn’t include divestments and so on.  Additionally, earlier this year a number of articles were published explaining that Israeli farmers, particularly in the settlements, were saying that the European boycott of Israeli produce was starting to have a significant effect on them. And then also earlier this year, just within the last two months, the Bill Gates Foundation divested $184 million in investments which is about 3 percent of the stock of G4S, a security firm that’s involved in operating Israeli prisons and other “security operations” in the Occupied Territories. Subsequently the United Methodist Church also divested from G4S, and that was at the behest of the Boycott National Committee and Addameer, a prisoner rights group, calling on them to do that.

Just to go through some of the cultural aspects of things, about two years ago Macy Gray raised the question of whether she should or shouldn’t perform in Israel and subsequently had a big debate that got a lot of media coverage. Now that’s a question that I don’t even think would have been asked a number of years ago, but she asked the question, she got responses, and she actually went and played in Israel. About a year later she tweeted out basically saying that had she known what she knew she would not have gone. Similarly Roger Waters decided to move a concert from Tel Aviv to Neve Shalom, which is supposed to be the oasis of peace. But after witnessing what he saw there, he immediately joined the Palestinian call for boycott and began to speak out explicitly in support. Other artists who have cancelled include Santana, Elvis Costello – who made a very strong statement of conscience, Alice Walker, Snoop Dogg – because he’s a beacon of human rights, Meg Ryan – who reportedly withdrew from the Jerusalem Film Festival according to its organizers, and Stevie Wonder – who cancelled the Israeli Army fundraiser he was scheduled to perform at. Most recently, Talib Kweli, who’s an African-American rapper, announced that he would no longer perform in Israel. I think generally this is causing hesitation for artists around the world. And to add to it, most recently FIFA, the International Football Association, announced that it was reviewing Israel’s position in FIFA and essentially explained that Israel had to meet certain demands of treatment of Palestinian football players to remain in FIFA.

So the last thing I will say is that obviously there is the question of some companies being strictly involved in Israeli settlements or involved in the Israeli occupation. And then there’s the question of those companies, and I mentioned Sabra Hummus and others that are Israeli companies and the number of groups [that] have taken up targeted boycotts of companies like SodaStream, which operates in Israeli settlements. There is nothing wrong with that. The Palestinian call is actually a “fuller” call for a boycott of Israel, but there is nothing against organizations that are choosing to target companies that are in settlements or involved with the occupation. That said, I do want to quickly quote Gideon Levy, who in writing about Tzipi Livni, talking about the EU’s decision to publish guidelines opposed to Israeli settlement goods. Levy wrote, “Justice Minister Livni said that the discourse in Europe has become ideological. She knows what she’s talking about. She also said that a European boycott would not stop at products made in West Bank settlements. There is no reason it should. The distinction between products from the occupation and Israeli products is an artificial creation. It’s not the settlers who are the culprits but rather those who cultivate their primary existence. All of Israel is immersed in the settlement enterprise, so all of Israel must take responsibility for it and pay the price for it.”

On a last note, in terms of getting involved, I would encourage people to look up the American Friends Services Campaign Against HP, or Hewlett-Packard as some of us old-timers know it, which owns a company which is operating technology in Israeli checkpoints. Code Pink has a campaign called Stolen Beauty against Ahava, the Dead Sea cosmetics company. The organization that I’m on the steering committee of, The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, which is at EndtheOccupation.org, has a number of campaigns and is pushing member group campaigns, so I encourage you to sign up for our mailing list. And there is a campaign to get TIAA-CREF, which has invested from several companies, to divest its entire socially responsible portfolio from companies that are involved in the occupation and settlements, and that is at WeDivest.org. Thank you for your time.

Lena Ibrahim: That was wonderful, Andrew. He was able to talk a lot about the successes of BDS. I think we could have this whole lecture talk about all the successes that BDS has seen in the last couple of years.

I’m going to start by doing something a little bit strange and read a Facebook status that I posted a week ago, when Gaza was just starting to be bombarded with Israeli bombs and the death toll was still maybe a hundred. At that point, I was frustrated and so heartbroken. I did not even imagine that we would be sitting here, less than two weeks later, and the death toll is higher than 700. So I wrote, “There is nothing okay about this. There is no solution or peace to fix the amount of deliberate destruction and massacre Israel is committing in Gaza. But I can promise one thing: all of our pain, all of our anger, will be invested in our global solidarity movement. There will not be a single campus, organization, or place in the DMV area that will not be discussing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions of apartheid Israel. If Zionist organizations in America were worried before about the strength of the Israeli boycott, they have no idea what they are in for now. BDS is unstoppable. And for the sake of our murdered children it will continue to succeed. Boycott from Israel; divest from Israel; sanction Israel.”

I start with that because I think it reflects a lot of the frustration and despair that Palestinian-Americans are feeling and certainly everybody in the solidarity movement is feeling. You know, our complicity in the States is very different because our role of complicity is the bloodiest role of all. We finance everything that we’re watching continue to happen in Gaza and the West Bank. We finance that – that continues to come out of our pockets. So as a Palestinian-American, that is unbearable. It is so hard to deal with at night when you’re sitting just following it on Twitter, just watching it, and you’re thinking, “I’m paying for this.” When we talk about BDS and our role as American citizens in wanting to hold Israel accountable, it starts kind of a different discussion about our own policies here in America, what we support, and what we are creating overseas in the Middle East, and that’s a really important discussion.

The role of BDS in Palestine solidarity is, I would say, as a student activist, that BDS is central to our work at this point. Campus activism is now being driven by BDS. There are all these campus BDS movements that Andrew had mentioned that we’re trying to mimic and do on our own campuses. I want to stress that BDS is a Palestinian call – it is a call from Palestinian civil society, which is my favorite part about it, because Palestinians have a voice. Palestinians don’t need a voice. I think that’s been the case here in America, certainly across the world, to talk about the Palestinians as if they need someone to help them decide on solutions or help them decide what the best way to resist the Israeli occupation is. That’s not the case. Palestinians have an incredibly strong voice that reflects more than 66 years of resilience against oppression. They need someone to empower their voice and that’s what BDS does. It helps to bring these discussions about Israeli apartheid, about the Israeli occupation to campus and to communities across the world. That’s led by the Palestinian initiative to ask the global community to respect their call and to boycott Israel. And that’s a really important point. I think a lot of people who try to say that they’re “pro-Palestine” but have all these strange issues with BDS don’t understand that it’s not really up to them. This is a Palestinian call and that’s the essence of it. This should be stressed every time we talk about this.

Students for Justice in Palestine is this widespread movement across the world, but certainly here in America, where on almost every campus you will see a Palestine solidarity group in the name of “SJP.” There’s a National SJP, there’s an SJP-West, an SJP-Midwest, an SJP-East, and this certainly reflects the ongoing growth of student solidarity for Palestine. Here in the DMV area we have a coalition that we’ve been working for a year and a half now. There are a lot of DMV SJP students here in the crowd. The DMV SJP is made up of George Mason University, American University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, University of Maryland, and we are adding one more SJP, which is Howard University. We’re all going to be excited about helping them with their SJP.

I wanted to just quickly give this anecdote about Students Against Israeli Apartheid at George Mason University, which has done incredible work in the last two years on campus, certainly of bringing BDS but more importantly bring the Palestinian narrative to campus. Two years ago, Israel was committing war crimes in Gaza with Operation Pillar of Defense – or some stupid name – and we were all very frustrated. A bunch of students from GMU were incredibly frustrated, and not just GMU students. Students were organizing these nightly protests. A bunch of GMU students wanted to translate that into campus work. I remember one night after the protests we were meeting at Panera Bread with other GMU students who said, “We need to take this work, BDS, and we need to invest all of our anger, all of our pain into campus.” And so two years from that point SAIA now stands at GMU as a really, really strong model for student solidarity work on campus.

I share that story because it shows you what happens when Israel acts in this kind of barbaric way. It’s always doing it, but obviously now in Gaza this is completely barbaric. And so our role as activists, as people interested in social justice, we’re emotionally angry and then very much motivated after this to work even harder.

BDS is on each of our campuses. Now we have the DMV coalition, and we have all agreed BDS is something that we will follow. If we plan on adding more schools and more student solidarity groups, certainly BDS is not something we sit around and debate about. We instead work on it and agree that this is what we do as solidarity activists responding to this call of action. This is from the DMV SJP page: “First, we hope to raise awareness about the plight of the Palestinian people and expose the atrocities committed by the Israeli occupation forces in occupied Palestine. Second, we seek to lead the DMV community in boycotting Israeli goods that profit from the occupation as designated by the BDS guidelines set forth by the Boycott National Committee. Third, we want our respective universities to fully divest their funds from companies that profit from Israel’s human rights violations. Fourth, we will support the academic and cultural boycott as defined by the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).”

We also take a very stern stance against normalization, so we are “anti-normalization.” “We will not normalize the status quo by engaging in dialogues, discussions, panels, or other public forums in which participants do not recognize the fundamental tenets as stated above. Discussing solutions without this groundwork would be disingenuous to the principles of human rights and also unproductive. A solution that does not recognize equal rights, an end to the occupation, and the right of return is no solution at all.” And this kind of lists the three BDS calls.

I certainly don’t have enough time to talk about this, but this is also a really important point about normalization. It’s really inherent to BDS that you can’t really respond to the Palestinian call of boycott, divestment and sanctions while still engaging in complete normal relations with various Zionist organizations that aim to completely distort the reality of what occupation/apartheid looks like. So on campus, and certainly this is something SJPs do across the country, we take an anti-normalization stance. Because we can’t host these “hummus nights” with these Israeli student associations to sit around and talk about how we can “coexist” when they’re not recognizing the apartheid laws that stop us from doing that, or stop someone like me, a Palestinian-American, from being treated equally when I go back home. So that’s a really important thing about normalization that the DMV SJP certainly stands against.

The U.S. campus has always been a place in which Zionist organizations can infuse millions of dollars into Zionist student organizations to maintain a university-wide “pro-Israel” stance. SJP and other Palestine solidarity student groups don’t work like that. We aren’t here to carry out propaganda. Our work instead reflects the reality of injustice in military occupation and the violent apartheid system. I say that because certainly across American academia there is this very widespread Zionist stance that SJP certainly tries to counter with “reactionary” events. But through BDS and BDS workshops we are able to talk about Palestine the right way, which is on the premise that there is apartheid – there is this occupation.

I don’t have a lot of time to talk about the ASA, but it’s really important. The American Studies Association (ASA) passed an academic boycott of Israel in December last year and there was incredible work within the ASA for seven years to try and get a discussion going about Palestine. They held their conference last year in DC where they reached out to SJP students to help with tabling and talking to ASA students, and so that’s what the DMV SJP did. We wrote a statement in support and then we were there for the four days of the conference tabling and talking with professors. And of course the academic boycott passed.

But what I want to share from that experience is that I sat for four days at the table talking to ASA professors whom I kept asking, “What is making you support BDS?” To me, it was crazy that faculty were supporting the Palestinian movement; I had never encountered that with my own campus work. And all of their answers were the same: it was that they had learned about BDS, about USACBI, through an SJP workshop on campus, which highlights the importance of SJP and the work that we do on campus to not only show students that there is a Palestinian narrative but to allow professors to feel like they can come out and talk about Israel as an apartheid state – which is ridiculous, but it is how it is. That to me, as an SJP student, showed how important that relationship is.

Then working with USACBI, the U.S. Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, I certainly don’t have enough time to talk about that, but it is really important to show that that highlights a call to attest the academic institutions’ role in complicity with the Israeli occupation. So in places like Israel, all of that technology that we see that’s being used for war crimes in Gaza, that comes out of the academic institutes in Israel. The structures and the actual architectural plans of the occupation, that comes out of the academic institute in Israel. So as American academic institutes and American academia we have to take an active role in saying “No, we’re not okay with that. We’re actually going to boycott that.” And you [Andrew Kadi] made a really good point, that the academic and cultural boycott is a little bit different. All BDS is like this, certainly with USACBI and PACBI; it emphasizes that we boycott the institution and not the individual. That’s important, but that’s also to emphasize the role of the institution in its complicity with the state, with Israel’s occupation, and all of that.

I do want to close quickly by giving you a little bit to be optimistic about. I know I have been incredibly pessimistic the last couple of weeks, but in the last eighteen days we’ve seen some BDS successes as a response, I would say, to what’s happening in Gaza. [Reads news headlines] “The Norwegian MP Calls for Boycott of Israel Over its Gaza Offensive,” “The U.S. National Lawyers Guild Endorses a Boycott of Israel,” “The Critical Ethics Studies Association Becomes the Fifth U.S. Academic Professional Association to Endorse the Academic Boycott of Israel,” “The African Literature Association Also Endorses the Academic Boycott of Israel,” “Desmond Tutu and Sixty-Four Public Figures Issue a Call for Military Embargo,” “Liz Lochhead, the National Poet of Scotland, Endorses the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel,” “Dublin City Council Calls for Arms and Trade Sanctions,” and “Chile Suspends Trade Talks with Israel Over Its Gaza Bombings.” This kind of shows you the need and the urgency of all of us to be active with BDS.

There are campaigns happening across the country, across the world – everywhere, like I mentioned the beginning. We can have these conversations with everyone in the community because it is so central to American policy and it does shed light on the problems of American policy in the Middle East, which is I think mostly reflected in Israel and support for an apartheid state. As students, I think we have a responsibility to not only hold our universities accountable for any injustice our institutions may support, but to lead our generation into a society that is fearless in any and all stances against oppression, no matter against whom or against what. We have to be the most critical, the most aware, and the most passionate for social change. This is really the essence of Palestine student solidarity work that is, of course, being led by BDS.

 

Lena Ibrahim is a first generation Palestinian American undergraduate student studying Global Affairs. She organizes with various Students for Justice in Palestine groups in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia with the DMV SJP coalition. Lena Ibrahim is a member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and the American Studies Association Activism and Community Caucus which passed an Israeli academic boycott at the 2013 American Studies Association Conference. She has been a BDS community and student organizer for three years and is actively organizing for social justice and solidarity building.


Andrew Kadi is a human rights activist, Steering Committee member of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and occasional contributor to the Guardian’s Comment is Free,  Electronic IntifadaMondoweissLeft Turn and other publications.