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Sunday, June 12, 2005


A boycott could do good in Israel, as in South Africa

Letter in Nature Magazine 435, 736 (9 June 2005)(thanks to Mazen Qumsiyeh)

A boycott could do good in Israel, as in South Africa

Rita Giacaman 1, Jacqueline Sfeir 2 and Ismat al-Shakhshir 3

1 Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University, Birzeit,
West Bank, Palestine
2 Department of Education, Bethlehem University, Bethlehem, West Bank,
3 Department of Chemistry, Al-Najah University, Nablus, West Bank,

We find it curious that your News story "Palestinian unease sparks fresh
calls for Israeli boycott" (Nature 434, 813; 2005) portrays scientific
collaboration between Palestinian and Israeli academic institutions as a
"beacon of hope" at a time when Israel's oppression of the Palestinians is
ongoing and, in fact, intensifying.

Plain logic would lead us to think that liberation is required first, and
then perhaps collaboration, with justice having already been achieved. To
suggest that collaboration despite occupation is a sign of hope defies any
understanding of conflict, oppression and the struggle for freedom, justice
and genuine peace.

In our view, boycott constitutes one of the very few possibilities for
Palestinian non-violent resistance to occupation. Boycott as an instrument
of civil resistance did not originate in Palestine. It has been effectively
used elsewhere, notably in South Africa, and has earned much support from
various groups worldwide.

In the case of Palestine Israel, a moral, if not active, support of the
boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions is the least that one
expects from conscientious academics, scientists and intellectuals
worldwide. Would Nature have described the collaboration of blacks and other
liberationists in South Africa with the apartheid government and its
institutions as a "beacon of hope"?

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