March 15th, 2016
To Students at Bristol University,
We are a group of Israeli citizens from all walks of life, including students and academics, who have joined the Palestinian call for a BDS campaign against Israel. Inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid, we dedicate our efforts to the ending of ethnic supremacy and to the promotion of a just peace and true democracy in our region.
We are delighted to see students in universities across the globe who have taken upon themselves to speak up and stand in solidarity with the oppressed. Over 200 different campuses are holding Israeli Apartheid Week events during Feb-March 2016, and many student bodies have passed motions in support of boycott, divestment or sanctions (BDS) at their respective universities.
At the same time, we are horrified to learn of the abhorrent attempts to repress those who challenge the complicity of their universities in Israeli crimes. Such an act is laid out in front of you today, as the Student Council is set to vote on Motion #10 - an anti-democratic motion which attempts to curb freedom of expression with regard to BDS activities and to holding Israel accountable for its actions.
We are dismayed that such a motion1, which pretends to support "Safe Debate on Israel-Palestine", actually speaks the propaganda language of the Israeli Foreign Ministry while attempting to implement a de facto policy that will prohibit BDS activity on campus.
In this respect, it is worthwhile mentioning the nature of the Zionist-Palestinian ‘conflict’. During the foundation of the State of Israel, the non-Jewish people of the land have been forcefully exiled and have been denied their right to return home ever since. Those who managed to remain on their land have been subjugated and oppressed under ethnic-supremacist laws and practices, whether as second-class citizens in Palestine ’48 (aka Israel proper) or as military subjects under the brutal regime in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The way to overcome such gross violations of international law and of human rights is by demanding that Israel abides by its obligations under the law and respects the basic rights that it denies the Palestinian people. This is what lies at the heart of the Palestinian call for BDS - the demand for rights and the promotion of equality, freedom and justice for all the people of that land.2
We are therefore calling on you to defeat Motion #10 at the Student Council today.
We call on you to defeat another motion which will also be voted on today, a motion that seeks to make it unlawful to "target or incriminate any single nation", as if any nation which routinely and systematically violates the tenets of international law and which violates human rights as a matter of policy should be immune from criticism. The rest of the motion (without the term “any single nation” in it) makes perfect sense, since it refuses to legitimise racism and supremacy in all its forms. However, for that very reason, the motion is turned on its head once you prohibit the criticism of any state which implements racist or supremacist policies. Effectively, it would prohibit such criticism of nations or states, which is of utmost importance and should never be denied.3
These two motions would serve those apologists for Israeli war crimes by prohibiting any reference to the ongoing Israeli attacks against Palestinians or even those against African asylum seekers.
Despite the fact that this letter of ours constitutes grounds for a lawsuit under Israel's draconian "Anti-boycott Law" 4, we write to you, as Israeli citizens, to say that you should not legitimise nor facilitate the policies of the Israeli MFA. Neither that of proxy organisations like BICOM or Stand With Us. We indeed urge you to stand by the oppressed and support the Palestinian people’s call for BDS, but at the very least, please don’t actively silence their and our struggle for the most basic of human values.
Finally, we would like to salute those conscientious academics who have chosen to speak up and stand in solidarity. Most recently 330 signed a pledge in Italy5, 600 in the UK6, 270 in Ireland7 and 200 in South Africa8. We support our Palestinian colleagues, whose universities are being routinely raided or bombarded by the Israeli army9, as well as our Palestinian colleagues who are citizens of Israel and are therefore systematically discriminated against within their academic institutions10.
We hope that Bristol Students Council members will uphold the democratic right to speak up against injustice and to oppose oppression. Please vote down these motions and step up the discussion about academic freedom and freedom of expression for the sake of a truly "Safe Debate on Israel-Palestine". Your voice and action are crucial in bringing about a better future for all the people of this land.
Until equality, freedom and justice.
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (Israeli citizens for BDS)
(3) "Motion Name: Bristol SU policy must not target or incriminate any single nation, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality or gender"