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Prospects for peace--will a boycott of Israel help?

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Catherine Cassara

on 24 April 2015

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Transcript of Prospects for peace--will a boycott of Israel help?

Prospects for peace--will a boycott of Israel help?
At Galilee Int'l Management Institute
We learned from
Israelis & Palestinians, professors, lawyers, negotiators, former generals, politicians, directors of NGOs
We went to:
the Golan Heights, the Dome of the Rock, the Separation Barrier, the Western Wall, urban and rural kibbutzim, as well as to the only Arab village left on the Mediterranean coast, and the Jewish settlements in the West Bank
Israeli reaction to boycott is mixed
Many favor the boycott
Feel powerless to change country's actions
Others are ambivalent
Afraid that boycott shuts down debate
Limits Western access to Israeli voices, particularly those who challenge power
Background on boycotts
Have been boycotts in years past, but mention boycotts now & everyone jumps to "BDS" ... which stands for

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

A movement begun in 2005 by Palestinian Civil Society organizations

until Israel complies with international law and Palestinian rights..
. "is a strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice"
Why am I here? Why was I there
Fascinated by Israel for years--was a Zionist but not well informed
But could not answer questions...
Questions from North African colleagues about American support for Israel
Questions from my students about why Israelis would bulldoze homes of Palestinians in West Bank
Decided to learn more--in Israel
Outline of tonight's talk
How I come to stand here
Boycotts as a protest of plight Palestinians, growth of settlements, Gaza actions
Impacts of the boycotts--particularly, the various academic boycotts
Thoughts about boycotts, etc.
Was a 2011 campaign in Israel proper

Israelis began a boycott of goods & products coming from the West Bank settlements

Had a negative impact on business AND

Upset Israeli government
SO MUCH
passed a law criminalizing boycotting settlement products

Decried as anti-Semitic & repeat of Nazi action
But in August Holocaust survivors & descendants of survivors spoke for themselves
Hundreds signed an letter in the
New York Times
Condemned "massacre of Palestinians in Gaza"
Called for a complete boycott of Israel
Israeli government reaction to BDS?
Israeli govt reaction was to BDS to send out spies;

Who was behind the BDS movement overseas
Who was promoting the movement, etc

For example, in US fiercely Zionist organizations target students & professors who speak out for a boycott

NONETHELESS ... in UK and Europe reaction during and after Gaza events... protests and boycotts have intensified
EU & UK academics boycotting already
Since start of 2014 Gaza conflict efforts have intensified overseas & begun here
Overseas extends to scholarly journals, EU scientific funding, etc.
Academic actions have centered on graduate student vote in NY & dramatic Ohio University YouTube video
But there are others ...
arrived in Tel Aviv early July
issue of boycotts came up
before I left & again in Israel
particularly because we were there as Gaza conflict worsened
In December 2013 ...
American Studies Association members voted overwhelmingly in favor of a boycott of Israeli universities
Presidents of US colleges and universities objected to A.S.A. action joining BDS
AAUP criticized presidents
Boycott was institutional... did not apply to individual academics
Ariel University place to examine human dilemma
University for students in the "Samarian hills"...
Hour from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv...focus on technology & sciences
Educates Israeli & Palestinian residents of West Bank -- men & women
Particular target of boycott.. location in illegal development
But Ariel profs research with profs from West Bank universities
Find solutions to practical problems of life in "Arab Israeli" enclaves.. but no EU or US funding to execute

Agree with Dani Dayan ... Palestinians need to be treated fairly

May not agree with him about how resolution might be found, or when

But without discussion, without conversation

No hope that equal, human treatment will happen

And, academics--sociologists, humanists, historians, et al.--have the voices that need to be heard
to layout my assumptions

I am not pro-Hamas, I am not anti-Semitic.. I am a humanist

people who are casual with the expenditure of the lives of non-combatants are war criminals

people on both sides have the right to life & human fulfillment

No one group or the other is endowed by God with an exclusive right to the contested land

Americans have a lot to answer for given that our government arms the Israelis, and our 501c charities underwrite the expansion of the settlements


In 1967--during the 6-day war--Israel occupied territories that belonged to its neighbors

Under international some of that territory was returned & boundaries were drawn around the rest

Since Israel has occupied & settled the West Bank & now seized more land--East Jerusalem, etc.-- and the 1000 acres near Bethlehem

Peace negotiations are scuttled by one side or another
Every few years Israel moves in & "disarms" Hamas in Gaza as a way to "safeguard" the homeland which gets bigger every year
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