The academics say the award ‘serves to legitimize and normalize Israel’s colonial violence and apartheid’ against Palestinians as Israel actively blocks the delivery of vaccines to millions of Palestinians.
Eminent international researchers are calling on an Australian historian to refuse a controversial Israeli award.
In a highly unusual instance of global pressure, over 220 international and Australian academics have written an open letter to UNSW Laureate Professor of History, Alison Bashford, appealing to her to support the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli academic institutions by rejecting the US$1million 2021 Dan David prize, which she is sharing with two other researchers.
The academics’ letter says that accepting this year’s prize, which rewards Professor Bashford’s contributions to the understanding of public health, ‘serves to legitimize and normalize Israel’s colonial violence and apartheid’ against Palestinians. The letter points out the irony of an award for public health from a country actively blocking the delivery of vaccines to the five million Palestinians living under its control in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Among the letter’s signatories are the internationally-renowned gender and cultural theorist, Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature at Berkeley; Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University in New York; Laleh Khalili, Professor of International Politics at Queen Mary, University of London; Jasbir Puar, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, Professor of American Studies at Wesleyan University; John Keane, Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney; Mark Levine, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at UC Irvine; and Meaghan Morris, Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney. The letter has also been signed by Ahmed Alnajjar, Director of Public and International Relations in the Palestinian Ministry of Education.
As well as signatories in Australia, including at Bashford’s own institution, the University of NSW, the letter is signed by academics from the US, UK, France, Belgium, Malaysia, Germany, Italy, Canada, Ireland and Palestine itself.
The signatories write that ‘Israel’s racist policies against Palestinians, long criticised as instances of apartheid by Palestinians themselves, as well as by international legal and humanitarian authorities (including recently by the Israeli NGO B’Tselem) are an egregious example of racial segregation imposed on an entire population, with all the desperate consequences for Palestinians’ health and well-being that this implies.’
They say that ‘refusing the award, opposing the whitewashing of Israel’s crimes, and rejecting collaboration with an Israeli academic institution complicit with the oppression of Palestinians would earn [Professor Bashford] the respect and admiration of all those who believe that academic research must serve the cause of freedom, in Palestine and in the world.’
Professor Bashford has so far not replied to the letter, signatures to which continue to arrive.
Academics can add their signatures by completing this form.
We are academics, researchers and students. We ask you to please reconsider accepting your share of the prestigious 2021 Dan David Prize, the academic award administered by and headquartered at Tel Aviv University (TAU). This year’s prize rewards scholars who have contributed to advances in and understanding of medicine and public health. In reality, however, accepting it serves to legitimize and normalize Israel’s colonial violence and apartheid.
As we are sure you are aware, for decades, through its military occupation, blockade and apartheid, Israel has been undermining Palestine’s health systems and systematically denying Palestinians medical care. In a report from November last year, the director of the World Health Organisation noted that Israel’s ‘chronic occupation has profound implications for the sustainability of health-care provision by public authorities, in terms of both revenue raising and affordability.’ Palestinians are regularly blackmailed into collaboration with the Israeli Security Services in order to get the permits they need to leave the West Bank and Gaza for medical treatment. Currently, while Israel has been hailed for vaccinating its population, it is refusing to immunize all Palestinians under its rule, as is its responsibility, and placing obstacles in the way of transfer of vaccines into Gaza and the West Bank, entry to which it fully controls – clear testament to the apartheid regime it maintains.
Since 2005, Palestinian civil society organizations have been calling on supporters of justice and antiracism around the world to express solidarity with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause by boycotting Israel, including its academic institutions. Accepting the prize would be a clear violation of this call, and an outright refusal of Palestinians’ aspirations for freedom. We ask you to respect the wishes of Palestinian people and not side with their oppressor.
TAU directly facilitates Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation of the West Bank and its illegal blockade of Gaza. It must be held accountable for supporting Israel’s repression of Palestinians. Examples of TAU’s complicity in Israel’s anti-Palestinianism are numerous:
– An affiliate of the university’s Sackler School of Medicine, the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, is currently stockpiling the bodies of scores of Palestinians for use as leverage in negotiations, refusing to release them to their families, a practice which contravenes international treaties and conventions. – TAU hosts the Institute for National Security Studies, whose 2018 ‘Plan’ recommends completing the illegal separation wall, and ‘ongoing construction in settlement blocs’ – in other words, perpetuation of Israeli apartheid – and which declares in its current report that ‘it is necessary to prepare for the next war’. – TAU’s Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security cooperates closely with the Israeli Defence Force and other security services, and hosts work on, among other things, ‘missiles and guided weapons, homeland security, [and] force build-up policy’. In 2008 the TAU President described himself as ‘awed by the magnitude and scientific creativity of the work being done behind the scenes at TAU that enhances the country’s civilian defense capabilities and military edge’. – TAU’s Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering runs an ‘entrepreneurship program’ with Elbit Systems, a major Israeli arms manufacturer, whose weapons and technology are battle-tested on Palestinians. – Since 2016, as at all Israeli universities, soldiers’ TAU tuition fees are paid after discharge from the army. – In 2014, TAU offered a year’s free tuition to students who had participated in the murderous military attacks on Gaza. – In 2012, TAU started collaboration with settlement organisations in archaeological digs in Palestinian East Jerusalem, in violation of international agreements.
Professor Bashford, we call on you to follow the lead of your colleague and fellow historian Professor Catherine Hall, who in 2018 refused the Dan David Prize prize. Doing so would make an important contribution to the cause of antiracism and opposition to apartheid in Israel in a context in which state-led resolution efforts have failed. It would also avoid a flagrant contradiction with your own published work, which aims to contribute to ‘the critical history of colonialism, nationalism and public health’, investigating, among other topics, ‘segregation as both hygienic – that is, as part of public health – and racial – as part of the systems and cultures of race management’.
Israel’s racist policies against Palestinians, long criticised as instances of apartheid by Palestinians themselves, as well as by international legal and humanitarian authorities (including recently by the Israeli NGO B’Tselem) are an egregious example of racial segregation imposed on an entire population, with all the desperate consequences for Palestinians’ health and well-being that this implies.
Professor Bashford, you have a significant opportunity to contribute to public understanding of the importance of antiracism and anti-apartheid. In 2003, you and a co-author noted that ‘even repressive regimes have been eroded through criticism generated by external human rights groups attempting to universalise democratic ideals’; as you pointed out, ‘it is difficult to imagine the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, for example, without the chorus of international calls to release high-profile political prisoners on Robben Island’. Palestinians’ appeal for boycott is an attempt to mobilise a chorus of international calls of exactly this kind.
Nothing obliges you to accept the Dan David prize and the financial reward that accompanies it. Doing so would be a sharp rebuke to the unanimous call from Palestinian organisations to support their struggle for freedom. As you have noted, ‘liberalism and the idea of democratic rule — most recently through the language of human rights — problematises arbitrary detention, the incarceration of non-criminals and of political prisoners’. These are, however, among the very practices which Israel imposes on Palestinians. Refusing the award, opposing the whitewashing of Israel’s crimes, and rejecting collaboration with an Israeli academic institution complicit with the oppression of Palestinians, would earn you the respect and admiration of all those who believe that academic research must serve the cause of freedom, in Palestine and in the world.
Samah Sabawi, independent scholar, Melbourne Nick Riemer, University of Sydney Rima Najjar, Al Quds University, Palestine Ahmed Alnajjar. Director of Public and International Relations, Ministry of Education, Palestine Randa Abdel-Fattah, Macquarie University Randa Farah, University of Western Ontario Wael Hallaq, Columbia University Peter Slezak, University of New South Wales Alistair Sisson, University of New South Wales Michael Grewcock, University of New South Wales Alana Lentin, University of Western Sydney David Brophy, University of Sydney James Godfrey, Birkbeck, University of London Jumana Bayeh, Macquarie University Sara Dehm, University of Technology, Sydney Ntina Tzouvala, Australian National University Lucia Sorbera, University of Sydney Kieron Cadey, Canterbury Christ Church Inna Michaeli, independent scholar, Germany Michael Griffiths, University of Wollongong Sara Saleh, University of New South Wales Liyana Kayali, Australian National University Micaela Sahhar, University of Melbourne Kate Davison, University of Melbourne Daniel A. Segal, Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges, USA Nicola Perugini, University of Edinburgh Sharri Plonski, Queen Mary, University of London Ronit Lentin, Trinity College Dublin Ryan Al-Natour, Charles Sturt University Robert Boyce, London School of Economics Mohd Nazari bin Ismail, University of Malaya Dr Lobna Yassine, Australian Catholic University Dr. Suzita Noor, University of Malaya Karel Arnaut, KU Leuven Paola Manduca, University of Genoa, Italy John King, New York University Angelo Baracca, University of Florence Zati Azizul, University of Malaya Marcelo Svirsky University of Wollongong Elsa Haniffah Mejia Mohamed, University Malaya MY Musa, USM Aneesa Abdul Rashid, Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia Herman De Ley, Ghent University Mark Ayyash, Mount Royal University, Canada Raja Jamilah Raja Yuso, University of Malaya Norhayati Ab.Rahman, University of Malaya David Faber, Flinders University Dr. Noor Fadiya Mohd Noor, University of Malaya Noor Adwa Sulaiman University of Malaya Fatiha Shabaruddin, Universiti Malaya Marc De Meyere Gent University Susan Ferguson, Wilfrid Laurier University Nozomi Takahashi, Staff scientist, VIB/Ghent University Snehal Shingavi, University of Texas, Austin Hassan Basri, University of Sultan Zainal Abidin J. Ahmad, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia Meera Atkinson, University of Notre Dame Australia George H Morgan, Western Sydney University Brian Brophy, University of Adelaide Zul’aini Zainal Abidin, Kolej Poly-Tech MARA Sharmani Patricia Gabriel, Universiti Malaya Amir Nor, Islamic Science University Professor Omar bin Yaakob, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia M.Tashid, University of Technology malaysia Rozaini Roslan, UTHM Mohamed Hatta Shaharom, Chairman Ikram Foundation of Malaysia Harlina Halizah Siraj, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Prof Dr Hayati, USIM Borhanuddin Mohd Ali, Universiti Putra Malaysia Prof. Azman Che Mat, UiTM Mustafa Mohd Hanefah Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia Ramli Bin Nazir, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Ahmad Hariza Hashim, Universiti Putra Malaysia Prof Dr Norhasmah, UPM Prof. Dr. Nor Azan, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Dr. Abdul Rashid Mohamed, Universiti Sains Malaysia Daing Nasir Ibrahim University Malaysia Pahang Dr Sahrim Ahmad/Professor, UKM, Malaysia Haiyun Ma, Frostburg State University, USA Mahamod Ismail, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Tengku Shahrom Tengku Shahdan, Universiti Selangor Associate Professor Dr Suhaimi Mhd Sarif International Islamic University Malaysia A’zzah, CEO, Al Musab Institute Wan Jefrey Basirun University Malaya Adlina Suleiman Academy of Professors Malaysia Khairul Saidah Abas Azmi, Senior Lecturer University of Malaya Noorsyazly Rameli, Malaysia Mohammad Nazri, Universiti Malaya Kelton Muir Sydney University John Michael O’Brien, University of Sydney Souheir Edelbi, UNSW Paul Russell, Victoria University Toby Fitch, University of Sydney Finola Laughren, University of Sydney Dr Azmi Aminuddin, UiTM Rohana Hassan, UiTM Christiane Schomblond, Université Libre de Bruxelles Kathryn Ticehurst, University of Sydney Carol Que, University of Melbourne Noor Sapiei, University of Malaya Alan Hill, RMIT University, Melbourne Goldie Osuri, University of Warwick Azman Hassan , Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Meloni Muir, University of Sydney Liam Ward, RMIT University, Melbourne David Klein, California State University Northridge Mike Cushman, London School of Economics Harry Smaller, York University, Canada Vannina Sztainbok, University of Toronto Colin Mooers, Ryerson University, Canada Sylvat Aziz, Queens University, Toronto Joy Moore, Dawson College, Montreal Asha Varadharajan, Queen’s University Brett Story, Assistant Professor, Ryerson University Larry Hannant, University of Victoria Sumi Hasegawa, McGill University Nicola Pratt, University of Warwick David Borgonjon, Rhode Island School of Design Kevin Moloney, York University, Toronto Steven Jordan, McGill University Peter Chidiac, University of Western Ontario Anne Meneley, Trent University Dr. Edwin E. Daniel, University of Alberta Christo El Morr, York University Natalia Maystorovich Chulio, University of Sydney Matilda Fay, University of Technology Sydney Mark LeVine, UC Irvine Robert Austin, University of Sydney Viviana Ramírez, independent scholar, Chile Mohd Hilmi Jaafar, University of Malaya Victor Wallis, Berklee College of Music Zuhaimy ismail, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Shira Robinson, George Washington University Daing Nasir Ibrahim, University Malaysia Pahang Malek Abisaab, McGill University Graham Holton, University of Queensland
BDS Australia calls on UNSW Laureate Professor Alison Bashford to support Palestinians in their struggle against apartheid by rejecting the Dan David Prize.
The 2021 prize, which is administered by Tel Aviv University, rewards contributions to the understanding of public health. Yet Israel is currently obstructing the delivery of Covid vaccines to Palestinians, and its illegal military occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Gaza Strip, which Tel Aviv University facilitates, have systematically attacked Palestinians’ public health for decades.
State-based efforts to bring about justice for Palestinians have comprehensively failed. In response, Palestinians are calling on people of good will to boycott organisations that profit from, contribute to, or normalize Israel’s repression of them. Academics from all over the world have met the call with strong support. As one example only, Prof. Catherine Hall of University College London declined to accept the same Dan David Prize in 2018 after extensive discussion about the politics of Israel-Palestine.
In suggesting that Israel is committed to advances in public health, the Dan David prize obscures the severe rolling health crisis in the occupied territories, and ignores the fact that Israel robs countless Palestinians of their right to health, well-being and ordinary prospects of flourishing. In its structural ties to Israel’s military and political architecture, including fee waivers and scholarships for Israeli soldiers and its complicity with the stockpiling of the bodies of dead Palestinians, Tel Aviv University, the prize administrator, directly facilitates the violence of Israel’s apartheid policies.
Millions of Palestinians are subjected to Israel’s slow ethnic-cleansing regime, which dispossesses, arbitrarily imprisons, maims and kills them in large numbers. To them, a high-profile prize from the heart of the Israeli political and academic establishment can only appear a cruel joke.
Professor Bashford, accepting the prize contributes to misleading the public about Israel’s violence and racism towards Palestinians, and legitimizes institutions at the centre of Israel’s apartheid policies. We therefore ask you to put into practice your declared commitments to public health and antiracism, and respect Palestinians’ call for solidarity by boycotting the Dan David prize. You surely would not have been an apologist for South Africa’s apartheid; we ask you to refuse to be one for Israel’s apartheid and brutal military occupation and blockade of Palestinians.
BDS Australia condemns the Victorian government’s recent announcement of a partnership with the major Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems. Elbit produces numerous weapons, including rocket launch systems, super-high explosive projectiles, mortar bombs, armoured vehicles and drones and is a key research and development partner to the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
Elbit surveillance technology and military equipment is used to maintain Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Gaza Strip. Elbit markets its weapons systems, including its drones, as “battle-proven”. This means that they have been deployed against Palestinians living under Israel’s deadly military occupation.
BDS Australia calls on the Victorian government to abandon any association with Elbit. In partnering with Elbit, the Andrews government is showing its contempt for international law and human rights conventions. With this deal, the Victorian Labor government under Premier Dan Andrews is collaborating with a government which has been shown to be practicing apartheid and which has been continually condemned in the UN and internationally for its ongoing breaches of human rights and international law.
Elbit is increasingly targeted by protesters worldwide as major companies and organisations divest and dissociate from it.
In 2018 both HSBC and AXA Investment Managers divested from Elbit due to its involvement in the production and commercialization of cluster munitions and white phosphorus shells. In 2020, the City of Liverpool in the UK cancelled the Elbit-sponsored Electronic Warfare Europe arms fair on ethical grounds after a campaign of 40,000 emails protesting at the city’s involvement. The 2021 arms fair in Seville, Spain, was cancelled by the Seville City Council, also on ethical grounds.
The Andrews government must reconsider this partnership now. Australians don’t want to support a company which profits by selling technology and armaments that destroy civilian communities and support the ongoing colonisation and dispossession of Palestinians. Victoria’s economic growth should not come at the expense of Palestinian lives.
BDS Australia condemns the development of an arms industry in collaboration with Elbit Systems Australia in Victoria and calls on all Australians to oppose and take action to end this partnership.
On Invasion Day 2021, BDS Australia expresses our unequivocal solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations.
Since 1788, First Nations people have been the objects of relentless colonial violence, first from the British and then from the Australian state. Today, rates of incarceration and child removal show that violence against Aboriginal people is still a blight on our society – a shameful reflection of the ongoing racism that characterises Australian politics, for which we all must be held to account.
We support Aboriginal peoples’ call for treaty and sovereignty and know that we will see no genuine reconciliation in this country without full justice for Aboriginal people.
As supporters of justice for Palestine, we understand all too well how colonialism crushes nations. The devastation it brings is measured in deaths, dispossession, arbitrary imprisonment, stunted opportunities and broken lives – the merciless oppression of entire peoples. In our struggle for the decolonisation of Palestine and our opposition to Israeli apartheid, we have much to learn from the inspiring activism of First Nations peoples over many decades.
Whether in Australia or in Palestine, there can be no compromise on basic rights. We reject any attempts to prevent Invasion Day rallies from going ahead. We call for an end to the scourge of colonialism, and for justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now. Our struggle for Palestine is rooted in a commitment to universal rights and international law.
Nothing is more urgent than reversing and compensating for the historic injustices to which colonised peoples have been subject, whether here or overseas. As the struggle for First Nations rights continues, we stand shoulder to shoulder with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends.
Support the Global Day of Action and Boycott Puma – Worst. Gift. Ever.
Israel’s far-right government is escalating its expansion of illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land. At the same time, it is demolishing Palestinian homes in record numbers, leaving hundreds of Palestinian families homeless during a pandemic.
Puma’s support for these violent land grabs makes it the… Worst. Gift. Ever.
Israel’s military occupation and illegal settlements force Palestinian families from their homes, with full backing from the Australian government which remains complicit and does not even support UN Resolutions calling on Israel to respect Palestinian human rights and adhere to international law.
Puma says it supports equality but is helping to prolong the brutal dispossession of indigenous Palestinians.
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