Dear Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah,
We are Israeli citizens, who have been active against our government's policies of racism, occupation and apartheid for many years. We greatly respect your criticism of the current global political order. In particular, we respect your addressing of the issues of present-time racism and their connection with the injustice that is deeply ingrained in the international political system.
We have just been informed of your upcoming lecture at Tel Aviv University (TAU) on June 5th - incidentally, the date marking 46 years of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. We would like to ask you to reconsider your decision to deliver this specific lecture at this specific venue.
For 65 years, since its creation, Israel has subjected millions of Palestinians to a violent, discriminatory regime based on ethnic privilege (for Jews) and ethnic disenfranchisement (for Palestinians). The situation in the region between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea is clearly a colonial one, and Israel's current policies are deeply rooted in 19th century Eurocentric colonial policies. Numerous international figures such as Desmond tutu, Jimmy carter have studied the human rights crisis in our region, and have come to the conclusion that "apartheid" would be an appropriate term to describe Israel's system of governance . Physicist Professor Stephen Hawking has recently cancelled his participation at the Israeli presidential conference following appeals by Palestinian academicians who are living under this system of apartheid.
Israeli universities have been highly complicit in the oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people . TAU itself boasts of being "at the front line of the critical work to maintain Israel’s military and technological edge" and acknowledges that the "Israel Ministry of Defense is currently funding 55 [of its] projects" (Zohar, Gil, "Lifting the Veil of Secrecy", Tel Aviv University Review (Winter 2008/9): 4.) At TAU, one can find the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), the university's militaristic, jingoistic think-tank which is highly complicit in the crimes committed by Israel's army and government . INSS has issued policy papers in direct opposition international law, advocating for "disproportionate" strikes on civilian infrastructure, which the world witnessed during Israel's actions in in Lebanon in 2006, and in the Gaza strip in 2009 [ http://www.inss.org.il/publications.php?cat=25&incat=&read=2222 ]. TAU also participates in projects such as the archaeological excavations in occupied East Jerusalem. A project run by Israeli settlers [ http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/petition-slams-tel-aviv-university-... ].
Due to this reality, Palestinian civil society has called for an institutional boycott against Tel Aviv University and similarly complicit institutions. We believe this appeal, coming from oppressed people, should be listened to [ http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1108.
Please note that the BDS call is not aimed at individual members of Israeli academia. Furthermore, we are not asking you to refrain from any dialogue with the Israeli public. You could, for example, deliver your talk at a Palestinian institute in occupied East Jerusalem , and invite Israeli citizens to attend. This would send a strong message of solidarity with the oppressed and recognition of the ethnocratic Israeli policies which are being perpetrated in Israel/Palestine with the complicity of TAU.
We will gladly address any questions or comments you may have.
boycott! supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from within (aka boycott from within)
From Israeli Citizens to Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah: Please Do Not Legitimize Tel-Aviv University's Complicity in Israel's Apartheid
Dear Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah,