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“We have to be careful not to over-exaggerate on this, but we also have to be careful not to ignore it,” said Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University and co-founder of the International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom. “It is a festering wound and it needs to be countered, not ignored.”
“The danger is not these 15; the danger is if it (the USACBI) becomes 500,”
From the New York Jewish Daily, Wednesday, February 4, 2009
When originally founded in 2009, only a handful of academics called for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. The call was dismissed as having little to no significance and was reflected in the statement from Gerald Steinberg. For Steinberg and others, the power of an academic and cultural boycott would be achieved with a critical mass of 500 endorsers. The USACBI is pleased to announce that we have reached that critical number. Endorsements by US academics and scholars recently crossed 500, and there are now 150 cultural workers who have also endorsed USACBI! This is a major victory for the growing academic and cultural boycott of Israel, and for the movement for justice and equality in Israel, as defenders of the status quo in Israel have repeatedly observed that the legitimacy of the state of Israel in the global court of public opinion is threatened by the boycott movement.
There is a growing shift in the tide of public opinion in the U.S. which has only swelled in the wake of Israel’s massacre of international activists and relief workers on humanitarian aid flotilla’s off the coast of Gaza in international waters on May 31. More people are realizing the urgent need for the international civil society to challenge the siege of the 1.5 million people imprisoned by the U.S.-backed Israeli blockade of Gaza and the exceptional impunity of Israel. The presence of Palestinian Israeli MP Haneen Zoabi on board the ship also sheds light on the state of apartheid in historic Palestine, an issue that has long been suppressed but is increasingly drawing attention. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has called on people of conscience around the world to pressure Israel to comply with international law by joining the growing boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. As PACBI reports, ‘Alice Walker has reminded the world of the . . . boycott of a racist bus company in Montgomery, Alabama during the civil rights movement, calling for endorsement of BDS against Israel as a moral duty.’
USACBI was formed during the war on Gaza in early 2009 and our list of endorsers has grown steadily. USACBI is linked to the larger BDS movement that is expanding across the U.S. This past year has seen Hampshire College’s successful drive to divest from Israel spread to campuses across the U.S. On the cultural front, artists such as Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, and the Pixies, have cancelled shows in Israel as a sign of principled solidarity with the Palestinian people, similar to the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa. Labor organizers and churches have also taken a moral stance by engaging in BDS campaigns. In Oakland, activists united with dock workers to prevent the unloading of Israeli Zim line ships in response to the flotilla massacre.