Madison Fantozzi/News Director
The University’s public opposition of the American Studies Association’s call for an academic boycott of Israel generated much praise from administrators and student organizations alike, but Students for Justice in Palestine says administration does not speak on behalf of all students.
“They claim to speak on behalf of the students, but they do not represent us. As students with a conscious for human rights and global justice, we demand accountability for this disturbing statement,” said SJP in a statement to Student Media.
President Mark B. Rosenberg and Provost and Executive Vice President Douglas Wartzok authored the University’s statement against the boycott in late December that cited the importance of academic freedom for all, but SJP said such freedom does not exist for Palestinians and the boycott is a necessary action toward liberation.
The ASA’s resolution in response to Palestinian civil society’s call for a boycott based on alleged human rights violations eliminates the association’s participation in Israeli conferences and public lectures, and also prevents representatives of Israeli academic institutions from participating in the association’s meetings.
Members from the pro-Israel student organization Shalom FIU and the Hillel Young Adult Division stated that they are proud of the University for opposing the boycott, noting the importance of Israeli academic institutions in research and communication.
But SJP, which works in solidarity with Palestinians and Israelis to end military occupation and an apartheid system, believes the resolution acknowledges the “illegality” of the Israeli occupation and its “harmful implications” for Palestinian academic freedom.
“We stand by the ASA’s criticism of and opposition to Israeli state policies that have resulted in grave human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinian people,” the statement said. “Many of which have severely infringed upon the academic freedom of both Palestinian students and scholars.”
The ASA claims Israel’s academic institutions have a direct partnership with the military, citing cases like Tel Aviv University’s development of weapon systems and Safed Academic College’s ban on Palestinian students running for student government office.
SJP noted in its statement that Israel has victimized Palestinians citing systematic dispossession of land, home evictions, demolitions, illegal settlement building and construction of the illegal annexationist wall, as well as appropriation of natural resources in violation of international law.
“Israel has severely cut access to electricity and fresh drinking water for the Palestinians of Gaza, and has murdered entire families with American taxpayer-funded weaponry,” the statement said.
Those opposing the boycott refute the “singling out” of Israel, but SJP says it is the only way.
“Recognition of the Palestinian struggle alone will not bring about Palestinian liberation from the yolk of Israeli colonization,” the statement said.
But the ASA has become target of widespread criticism with the presidents of more than 180 United States institutions condemning the boycott. No university has been identified as endorsing the boycott.
“This resolution brings us one step closer to a more peaceful, stable, secure and just world,” SJP said.