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An Open Letter in Support of the Presbyterian Church’s Decision to Divest from Israel

by LISA TARAKI And OMAR BARGHOUTI

Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick
Stated Clerk
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202-1396

Dear Rev. Kirkpatrick,

On behalf of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, we salute the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for its persistent commitment to justice and peace in the Holy Land, especially as recently manifested in its courageous and principled general assembly resolution calling for divestment from companies that in effect help to perpetuate Israel’s illegal military occupation of the Palestinian territories by doing business with it. This latest position proves once again the Presbyterian Church’s moral consistency in dealing with injustice and oppression. Your Church was among the first to condemn the colonial wall Israel is establishing on occupied Palestinian land, and it has always called for a comprehensive and just solution to the conflict in accordance with the precepts of international law.

Our Campaign organizers strongly feel that non-violent resistance to Israel’s oppression cannot win without solid, persistent and far-reaching pressures, like yours, applied by the international community against Israel to bring about its compliance with international law, the requirements for a genuine, just peace and for historical reconciliation in the Holy Land.

Recently, and in light of the historic ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 9 July 2004, which found Israel’s colonial wall built on occupied Palestinian territories to be illegal, we’ve issued a press release that called upon people of conscience the world over to participate in diverse forms of boycott against the state of Israel, its institutions and industries, as a minimal show of civil opposition to its persistent violations of international law, its continued military occupation of Palestinian territories, its system of racial discrimination against its own Palestinian citizens and its denial of Palestinian refugees’ rights. We have also called upon world governments to impose sanctions against Israel to pressure it to comply with international law and the pertinent UN Security Council resolutions.

It is no coincidence that a similar advisory opinion by the ICJ, which in 1971 denounced South Africa’s occupation of Namibia, triggered what became the world’s largest and most concerted campaign of sanctions directed against the apartheid regime. The ICJ ruling against Israel should equally inspire a comparable reaction.

Our campaign is specifically focusing on boycotting Israeli academic institutions — mostly state controlled — because they have contributed, directly or indirectly, to maintaining, defending or otherwise justifying Israel’s colonial policy, including the construction of its colonial Wall. The Israeli academy’s silence is a telling sign of its complicity in this policy.

Since scholars and intellectuals have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice, as exemplified in their struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa, and in the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and universal resistance to injustice and oppression, we have called upon our colleagues in the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid.

This call for academic and cultural boycott has been endorsed by close to 60 of the most prominent academic, cultural, professional and trade unions and associations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, including the Federation of Unions of Palestinian Universities’ Professors and Employees and the umbrella organization of Palestinian NGOs in the occupied West Bank, PNGO.

Initiatives like yours reassure us that despite the devastation, oppression and death visited upon our people and land on a daily basis there is still hope for peace and justice to prevail.

Warm regards,

Dr. Lisa Taraki
Coordinator, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; teaches sociology at Birzeit University in Palestine

Omar Barghouti
Secretary, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; independent researcher and dance choreographer

Campaign’s Email: info@BoycottIsrael.ps

 

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