Open Letter of Support for the SDSU Student Union for Representation and Justice

An Open Letter of Support for Student Union for Representation and Justice

at San Diego State University

February 2014

Dear Members of Student Union for Representation and Justice,

The U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) is a national organization that supports the academic and cultural boycott of Israel as part of the broader international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, or BDS strategy.  Nearly a thousand U.S. professors, including many within the California State University system, have endorsed our mission statement.   Hundreds of artists, poets, musicians, and writers have also endorsed the mission statement.  Code Pink and the Green Party of the United States are among the more than 50 organizational endorsers. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Desmond Tutu, is one of many prominent members of our Advisory Board.

We write on behalf of USACBI to thank you for your efforts to promote a divestment resolution at San Diego State University, and to encourage you to continue your efforts.

Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, or BDS, are non violent strategies that have been variously employed by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez. BDS actions on a global scale helped to bring an end to South African Apartheid, and now there is a growing BDS movement aimed at achieving justice for the Palestinian people.   In 2004, Desmond Tutu wrote:

“The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of  international pressure — in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months, a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation.”

In 2005 Palestinian civil society issued a call for BDS until Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.  The world has responded.  Leaders of the BDS actions include Palestinians, Jews, Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, and many others.

As with virtually all social justice and human rights movements, BDS has detractors. Some are uncomfortable with the legitimate criticisms of apartheid in the state of Israel.  Others claim that BDS is divisive.  Some ask why Israel is being singled out.  For those apologists for injustice in Israel, we suggest you ask them to watch artist Remi Kanazi’s performance piece, “This Divestment Bill Hurts My Feelings” (http://youtu.be/wvg4LknKsZ0 ), which responds to all of these concerns.  We are proud to count Remi Kanazi as a member of our Organizing Collective.

Yes, the quest for justice and principles of equality inevitably hurt some people’s feelings.  That was also the case during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa on U.S. university campuses in the 1980s, and that is the case now in the struggle for justice in Israel/Palestine.  The charge that BDS might make Jewish students feel uncomfortable is fundamentally anti-Semitic and should be rejected.  Supporting BDS against Israel is no more anti-Semitic than support of the boycott of Apartheid South Africa during the 1980s was anti-White.  Such a charge is anti-Semitic because it associates to Jewishness the ongoing crimes against humanity of the Israeli apartheid system.

In Solidarity,
(listed alphabetically)

Cynthia Franklin
Professor of English
University of Hawai’i

Jess Ghannam
Clinical Professor
Department of Psychiatry and Global Health Sciences – School of Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Terri Ginsberg
International Council for Middle East Studies
New York, NY

Sherna Berger Gluck
Emerita faculty
California State University, Long Beach

Robin D. G. Kelley
Gary B. Nash Professor of U.S.  History
University of California at Los Angeles

David Klein
Professor of Mathematics
California State University, Northridge

Dennis Kortheuer
Lecturer, Dept. of History
California State University, Long Beach

David Lloyd
Professor of English
University of California – Riverside

Nadine Naber
Associate Professor, Gender and Women’s Studies and Asian American Studies
University of Illinois, Chicago

Edie Pistolesi
Professor of Art
California State University, Northridge

Jerry Rosen
Professor of Mathematics
California State University, Northridge

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