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The following statement was issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel on 15 August 2010:
Once again, the Brand-Israel machine is in high gear, this time organizing a million-dollar international youth extravaganza in Eilat in September 2010 called “Funjoya.” This unabashed propaganda exercise is sponsored by the Israel Ministry of Tourism and the Israeli Student Union, among other official and semi-official bodies. The Ministry of Tourism explains one of the aims of the festival: “branding Israel as an attractive tourism destination for students, an improvement in Israel’s image among this target group and facilitating multi-cultural encounters for students from Israel and European countries.”
There is no question that Israel is working hard to whitewash its crimes and to justify its occupation, colonization and system of apartheid. Since 2005, the official “Brand-Israel” campaign has tried to present Israel in a new light, as a vibrant state promoting culture and the arts. However, Israel’s own actions make a mockery of this branding exercise, proving that no amount of rebranding will cover up the escalating agenda of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and violence against the Palestinian people, the last of which were the deadly assault on the Gaza Strip in the winter of 2008-2009, and the lethal attack on humanitarian aid workers aboard the Freedom Flotilla in Gaza in May 2010, which resulted in the murder of nine Turkish citizens. This viciousness is customary to Israel. The report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission led by Judge Richard Goldstone, released in September 2009, found strong evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the assault on the Palestinian people in Gaza, and called for holding Israel accountable before international law.
We call upon students from around the world not to take part in this festival. We invite you to join the international movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel (BDS) until Israel respects international law. As students, you should be aware that Palestinian students do not enjoy the rights taken for granted by many of you: Palestinian students’ freedom of movement is severely restricted by the Apartheid Wall, checkpoints and road blocks and hundreds are detained in Israeli jails for resisting the occupation.
We urge you to heed the words of the Gaza-based Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel in their open letter to students a few days ago: “From under a most brutal siege humanity has witnessed during this modern age, we urge all students around the globe to boycott this festival. We ask: will it speak about the cultural confiscation, the occupation of Palestinian history, the system of racial discrimination, home demolition, settlement expansion, settler colonialism and land expropriation? Will it tell of how apartheid Israel slices the West Bank into Bantustans separated by more than 600 checkpoints and a monstrous Apartheid Separation Wall preventing Palestinians from access to local hospitals, schools and universities, not to mention their families and relatives?”
Don’t come to Eilat and honor the apartheid state! Support the Palestinian people in our struggle for self determination by boycotting “Funjoya” and exposing this vulgar Israeli hasbara effort!