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Indian Call for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

3. August 2010

All signs indicate that Israel is starting to take seriously the threat of Palestine solidarity activists, the types of people brushed off for so long by media and policymakers as marginal and irrelevant.

Now, Israel is moving towards the criminal prosecution of those who advocate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as tools to press Israeli compliance with international law and norms in its Apartheid rule and occupation of the Palestinian people. It is targeting BDS activists for lengthy interrogations and arrest for nonviolent resistance. Its diplomats are considering intervening against BDS successes in localities, such as Olympia, Washington, where a food coop joined the boycott of Israeli goods.

This movement, people must understand, is spurned by the failure of governments to bring justice to the Palestinians, a point recently made by Antony Lowenstein.

As BDS grows, it’s shaping up as a truly global movement. This is an open call from Indian academics, writers and artists reprinted from USACBI’s website.

Both the academia and the arts are profoundly rooted in the values of democracy, equality and justice, and the pursuit of excellence in both these fields has meaning only if it is imbued with conscience. As Indian academics, intellectuals and artists in the decolonised world, we have historically played a crucial role in the liberation of our peoples, and to this day continue to lend our voices in support to all those who are struggling to be rid of the yoke of colonialism and foreign domination.

In a reality in which the Israeli state daily tramples on the academic freedom and cultural life of the Palestinian people, a continued association with the instruments of such a state is unconscionable. When Palestinian students and teachers are not allowed to reach their universities because of permit laws and checkpoints, universities and schools are levelled by bombs and tanks, food, textbooks, and medical supplies are prohibited from entering Gaza, and artistic events are closed down in Jerusalem, none of the foundational principles on which academic and cultural contact are based can ever be fulfilled.

In response to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel we have come together to form the India Chapter of this international movement. Just as it was in the case of the international call against South Africa in the apartheid years, we are confident that this boycott will be effective in contributing to international pressure on Israel to abandon its oppression and expulsion of the indigenous population based on military aggression, legal discrimination and persecution and economic stranglehold.

We appeal to you, Indian academics and artists, to join us in this cause, which has become even more urgent today, when our nation’s foreign policy has abandoned the ideals of self-determination and anti-colonialism. We stand in firm and relentless opposition to India’s strategic, scientific, military, and economic relations with Israel and are determined to reverse these morally repugnant policies of the Indian state. Our act of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle is a reaffirmation that the Indian people have not abandoned the Palestinian people or forgotten their own history. This is to request you to join us in the India Chapter Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. We also request you to let us know your friends and colleagues we may send this letter to.

Yours sincerely,

1 Upendra Baxi (Patron)
2 Vina Mazumdar (Patron)
3 Ayesha Kidwai (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Convenor)
4 Gargi Sen (Filmmaker, Convenor)
5 Mohan Rao (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Convenor)
6 Janaki Abraham (Delhi University)
7 Ayisha Abraham (Artist)
8 Dinesh Abrol (Scientist, NISTADS)
9 Aijaz Ahmad (New Delhi)
10 S Anand (Publisher)
11 G Arunima (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
12 Pushpa M.Bhargava (Scientist)
13. Ira Bhaskar (Film maker)
14 Prashant Bhushan (Lawyer)
15 Praful Bidwai (Journalist)
16 Uma Chakravarthy (Delhi University)
17 Anand Chakravarthy (Delhi University)
18 C.P Chandrasekhar (JNU)
19 Indira Chandrasekhar (Publisher)
20 Kamal Mitra Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
21 Anuradha Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
22 Rohan D’Souza (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
23 Satish Deshpande (Delhi University)
24 Shashi Deshpande (Writer)
25 Vasanthi Devi (Former Vice-Chancellor, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tamilnadu)
26 Saba Dewan (Film maker)
27 Jayati Ghosh (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
28 Githa Hariharan (Writer)
29 Zoya Hasan (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
30 Moloyshree Hashmi Theatre Person
31 Mushirul Hassan (Former Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia)
32 T Jayraman (Tata Institute of Social Studies)
33 Mary John (Centre for Women’s Development Studies)
34 Amita Kanekar (Writer)
35 Kalpana Kannabiran (Hyderabad University)
36 Nuzhat Kazmi (Jamia Millia Islamia)
37 Farida Khan (Jamia Millia Islamia)
38 Romi Khosla (Architect)
39 Brijesh Kumar Theatre Person
40 Ein Lall (Filmmaker)
41 S.N. Malakar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
42 Rita Manchanda (South Asia Forum for Human Rights, Kathmandu)
43 Harsh Mander (Centre for Equity Studies, New Delhi)
44 Satyajit Mayor (Scientist)
45 Meena Menon (Writer, Focus on Global South)
46 Nivedita Menon (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
47 Ritu Menon (Publisher)
48 Saeed Mirza (Filmmaker)
49 Jeroo Mulla (Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai)
50 Seema Mustafa (Journalist)
51 Gautam Navlakha (Economic and Political Weekly)
52 Aditya Nigam (Centre for the Study of Developing Studies, Delhi)
53 Rajni Palriwala (Delhi University)
54 Prabhat Patnaik (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
55 Anand Patwardhan (Filmmaker)
56 Pamela Philippose (Journalist)
57 Prabir Purkayastha (Engineer)
58 N Pushpamala (Artist)
59 Imrana Qadeer (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
60 D Raghunandan (Delhi Science Forum)
61 Alok Rai (Delhi University)
62 M.K. Raina (Theatreperson)
63 R Ramachandran (Journalist)
64 Vidya Rao (Editor, Singer)
65 Arundhati Roy (Writer)
66 Rahul Roy (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)
67 Kalpana Sachidanandan ( Writer)
68 Madhu Sahni (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
69 Tanika Sarkar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
70 Sumit Sarkar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
71 Amit Sengupta (Journalist)
72 Amit Sengupta (Delhi Science Forum)
73 Lakshmi Subramaniam (Jamia Millia Islamia)
74 Nandini Sundar (Delhi University)
75 Achin Vanaik (Delhi University)
76 Vikram Vyas (Delhi University)