PACBI Salutes the British Campus Occupation Movement and Calls for Intensification of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) salutes the students, faculty members and groups that organized and supported the spectacular campus “occupations” across the United Kingdom in solidarity with Palestine, during Israel’s criminal aggression on Gaza earlier this year. The message to university administrations and academics was unequivocal; there is no room for business-as-usual with Israel, and British universities must take a stand, including divesting from companies implicated in Israel’s occupation and atrocities. It is inspiring that, already, Cardiff University, for example, has decided to end its investment in companies supplying Israel with weapons, following the lead of Hampshire College in the US, which opted last month to divest from six companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. The focus on divestment from companies supporting the Israeli occupation and oppression is of particular significance as it transcends the traditional solidarity forms of mere demonstrations and denunciations to far more effective and sustainable measures of boycott, divestment and sanctions, BDS.
Indeed, BDS is the main form of solidarity that Palestinian civil society in its absolute majority is calling upon all people of conscience around the world to adopt in support of our people’s struggle against Israeli colonialism and apartheid. We sincerely hope that the growing student movement in solidarity with Palestine in the UK will develop BDS strategies aimed at comprehensive divestment from companies implicated in Israel’s crimes and boycott of Israeli academic institutions, all of which are complicit in Israel’s colonial and apartheid policies, which persistently violate international law and deny the Palestinians their fundamental human rights.
PACBI was launched in March 2004 by a group of academics and intellectuals in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT). Advocating an end to injustice and respect for universal human rights, PACBI’s call for boycott,  issued in April 2004, urged international academics and intellectuals 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.” In 2005, marking the first anniversary of the historic decision by the ICJ against the Wall, PACBI and numerous Palestinian human rights and community organizations initiated the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, against Israel until it fully complies with international law and fundamental principles of human rights.  More than 170 leading political parties, unions, institutions, and other civil society organizations endorsed this. This call for BDS is representative of the views of the vast majority of Palestinian civil society, including the refugee community, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.
PACBI has adopted the academic boycott as a civil mode of resistance given the Israeli academy’s complicity and direct involvement in Israel’s colonial and apartheid practices. Israeli academic research centers and units have been an organic and indispensable partner of the Israeli military-security complex, offering expert analysis and furnishing the tools and know-how necessary for the machinery of domination and occupation. Furthermore, the Israeli academy has consistently played a central role in whitewashing Israeli colonial and racist policies internationally and has never taken a stand against their government’s vicious atrocities and ethnic cleansing policies over the past sixty years. Most recently, and only as an example, a Tel Aviv University publication announced with pride that the Research & Development Directorate of the Israeli Ministry of Defense is currently funding 55 projects at the university; it went on to quote the head of the Security Studies Program at the University that “military R&D in Israel would not exist without the universities. They carry out all the basic scientific investigation, which is then developed either by the defence industries or the army.”  It should be noted that this is the same Ministry of Defense that executed a relentless and bloody war against the Palestinians in Gaza last December and January, murdering over 1400 Palestinians, more than 300 of whom were children, and wounding over 5000 people.  Many neighborhoods were reduced to rubble, and educational institutions, such as schools and whole buildings of the Islamic University campus, were destroyed. In general, the Israeli academy sees nothing wrong with partnering with the Israeli military machine, to say the least.
Historically, one of the key achievements of academic boycott has been the adoption, by British academic unions, of motions that directly or indirectly endorse, from 2005 to the present, the institutional academic boycott called for by PACBI. This was mainly realized through the heroic efforts of PACBI’s main partner in the UK, The British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, BRICUP , and with indispensable, principled support from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).
Academic and cultural boycott have been steadily gaining momentum around the world. One of the most outstanding initiatives was the launching of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.  Most recently, the Fédération autonome du collégial (FAC), Quebec College Federation, has also joined the BDS campaign. 
In conclusion, there is a surge of effective and institutionally sustainable solidarity with the Palestinians focusing on BDS. We are heartened by the increasing awareness of the student movement in Britain to the fact that a just peace in Palestine and the region can only be realized through isolating Israel and holding it accountable to international law and universal principles of human rights. This is the main lesson we have learned from South Africa. We hence call upon you to intensify your efforts in promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in support of our struggle for freedom and justice.
 Tel Aviv University Review, “In Defense of the Nation,” Winter 2008-2009. Tel Aviv University: Marketing and Donor Relations Department, 2009.
 Palestinian Center for Human Rights. http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/PressR/English/2008/36-2009.html