08 August 2011
Dear South African students,
We are members of†BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within†, a group of Israeli students, professors, citizens, and residents who are active against our government's policies of apartheid, occupation and racism. We would like to express our solidarity with South Africa's leading student groups, who intend to†challenge and boycott a delegation of Israeli students arriving in South Africa on a propaganda mission, titled, "What Is Rael", on 11/8/2011. The Israeli student delegation is part of a well-orchestrated Israeli establishment attempt to whitewash severe violations of human rights, including war crimes, through a fictitious display of†"diversity and democracy".
The†What Is Rael†delegation is a†Tel Aviv University (TAU) Student Union initiative, who's aim is to "actively contribute to Israel, by†sending "Students who consider themselves Zionists" abroad to speak on campuses†. A Jpost article reported connections to the†Foreign Ministry,†the Jewish Agency (a major governmental organization that is responsible for numerous colonization projects in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel†), Kol Voice Seminars (Collaborator with Jewish Agency projects) the†NGO Monitor (an organization who's sole goal is to blacklist human rights organizations in Israel) and funding from various student unions†:
"The groupís preparation included a debating exercise run by Foreign Ministry professionals, and a weekend of training seminars held at Jerusalemís Kiryat Moriah campus two weeks ago, paid for by the Jewish Agency for Israel.
The professionals who worked with the students included Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitorís legal adviser, and Yair Zivan, a former UJS campaigns director and cofounder of Kol Voice Seminars.
Kimhi and his fellow Israeli representatives paid most of their airfares themselves, though the student unions at Ben- Gurion University of the Negev and the Weizmann Institute of Science provided some funding."
Furthermore, the stifling of Palestinian academic freedom has been a pillar of Israel's violent policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.†The Israeli student delegation will not include Palestinian students languishing in Israeli prisons under draconian administrative detention decrees. The delegation will not include Palestinian students who are routinely humiliated and beaten at Israeli military checkpoints on their way to or from their university.†The delegation will not include Palestinian students whose universities have been shut down, with any attempt to create makeshift study groups being rendered "cells of illegal education".††The delegation will not include Palestinian students whose universities have been bombed in the Gaza Massacres of 2009 ("Operation Cast Lead").†
We would also like to draw the South African public's attention to the fact that many of the Israeli participants boast of their military service in combat units, in the biographical statements they submitted.††Since the Israeli army has been committing war crimes on a regular basis in recent years, and specifically in Operation Cast Lead, it is likely that members of the delegation participated in acts which amount to war crimes.
We support your attempts at resisting the Israeli government's propaganda in your universities and your efforts in advocating the BDS campaign at your campuses.
On behalf of BOYCOTT!
Ofra Ben Artzi
Dr. Uri Davis
Dr. Dorothy Naor
Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan (laureate of the Sakharov Prize for Human Rights and the Freedom of Thought)