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.
We strongly support this statement by ACIJ and the campaign by Australia Palestine Advocacy Network asking why the Australian government is interfering in the recently announced International Criminal Court case. You can write to your federal MP here.
The decision by the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to pursue war crimes investigations into Israel’s actions against Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip is welcomed by BDS Australia.
Bensouda’s statement that, “I am satisfied that (i) war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip (“Gaza”) (ii) potential cases arising from the situation would be admissible; and (iii) there are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice”, comes after the Court had been presented with extensive documentation over five years to support such an investigation.
Greg Barns, criminal barrister and former National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance states: “The ICC and the Rome Statute that governs it is supported by Australia. Therefore it would be hypocritical if Australian politicians did not support the ICC in its further work on Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians. “The ICC decision should be supported by all Australians who oppose the apartheid policies of Israel. Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Chair of the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney and Leverhulme Visiting Professor, Coventry University, 2019-20 says: “The ICC announcement finally opens the door to justice for the Palestinians, after decades of dispossession and oppression by the Israeli military security state. It comes as revulsion at Israel’s excesses, and support for remedial action, is growing among concerned peoples around the world.
BDS Australia’s Hilmi Dabbagh says: “This is the first step towards accountability for decades of grave crimes against Palestinians and we commend the ICC for finally taking steps to bring justice to so many and to shine a light on these ongoing crimes which must be stopped by the international community.
BDS Australia condemns the recent violence against students and human rights defenders at York University in Canada. BDS Australia is a coalition of 12 Australian pro-Palestine associations, dedicated to informing and raising awareness in the Australian community in support of a just peace for the Palestinian people.
On 20 November 2019, Canadian human rights activists, students and others were protesting against the presence of former and current Israeli soldiers at York University’s Toronto campus when members of the Israeli lobby violently attacked and assaulted them. The Israeli soldiers were brought to campus by the right-wing Canadian branch of the Israeli organization called Herut. The students protested peacefully and we understand they were assaulted by the members of Jewish Defence League while the university security and police failed to protect them.
BDS Australia stands with activists from Canada and elsewhere internationally to unconditionally reject the assertion that protesting Israeli apartheid and Israeli violations of human rights and international law in relation to Palestine, is antisemitic.
We stand in solidarity with the Canadian students, staff, and others including progressive Jewish Israelis in the struggle against Israeli apartheid and Israel’s ongoing grave violations of international law.
We note that bogus claims of antisemitism against supporters of free and equal rights in international law for all Palestinians are disingenuous and a cynical attempt to discredit the ongoing international condemnation of Israel for its longstanding brutal and illegal colonization of Palestinian land and, oppression of Palestinians.
Eminent American-Jewish international legal scholar Emeritus Professor Richard Falk, will be in Sydney next week. Professor Falk is a tireless advocate for the universal application of international human rights law as the basis for a sustainable peace between Israel and Palestine. He was United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967 from 2008 to 2014.
We are disappointed that his views have been characterised as controversial and that, baselessly, he has been labelled ‘antisemitic’ by some pro-Israel commentators, such as in last week’s edition of Australian Jewish News (AJN). Disappointingly the editor of the AJN has so far refused to publish Professor Falk’s point-by-point refutation of the allegations made in AJN, so we publish it here.
We read with alarm that an application has been made to the Minister for Immigration, David Coleman MP, to revoke Professor Falk’s visa. This week we wrote to Minister Coleman, as well as to Senator Keneally as shadow minister, seeking their reassurance that Professor Falk will have no difficulty entering Australia on 2 July.
In reply to Jewish News, Professor Falk asks what is controversial about his view that sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians ‘depends on respect for Palestinians’ rights and an end to Israeli violations of international law.’ As UN Special Rapporteur he was accused of being ‘antisemitic’ or a ‘self hating Jew.’ Yes, he criticised states ‘from the perspective of international law and morality’, but has never criticised the ethnicity or religious identity of any people. Yes he has written about the ‘collective punishment’ of the civilian population of Gaza ‘which is unconditionally prohibited by an occupying power in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.’ That writing ‘was intended as a wakeup call to encourage a more humane and legally appropriate approach to the civilian population of Gaza.’
Barrister and author Greg Barns issued this statement supporting Professor Falk’s visit:
‘In a liberal democracy freedom of speech and ideas must include the ability to present divergent views and opinions on issues. The conduct of Israel and the treatment of the Palestinians is no exception to that core value. Yet too often in Australia critics of Israel and those who, like Richard Falk bring their expertise to the issue and reveal uncomfortable truths, are harassed and bullied by elements of the pro Israel lobby. This preparedness to shut down criticism of Israel should have no place in a nation that purports to defend freedom of speech and freedom of thought.’
Stuart Rees OAM, Professor Emeritus, Univ. of Sydney and founder of the Sydney Peace Prize notes:
‘Zealous supporters of Israel’s policies towards Palestinians display an appalling cruelty and total indifference to the rules of international law. In response to such cruelty, Professor Richard Falk, a highly distinguished jurist and political scientist, has spent a lifetime working to promote peace with justice to benefit Israelis as well as Palestinians. Despite being vilified for his efforts, he continues to advocate respect for universal human rights and will not be stifled or intimidated by bullies. The Australian BDS movement is privileged to welcome Professor Falk to Sydney. He will address one of the world’s most pressing humanitarian issues, a future for Palestine. ‘
A Future For Palestine, with Professor Richard Falk – presentation, then in conversation with Professor Stuart Rees OAM Parliament of NSW, Theatrette, Macquarie St, Sydney Thursday 4 July, 2019, 6-8pm
The Palestinian human rights advocacy organisation, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Australia, condemns the baseless and unprincipled attacks on candidates who expressed their support for Palestine in the recent federal election.
In the lead-up to the election, the ALP’s Melissa Parke and The Greens’ Mehreen Faruqi were among the candidates from both parties attacked in the pages of the Murdoch and Jewish community press for their support for the Palestinian cause and association with the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and the bodies that support its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.
“The insinuation by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry that Melissa Parke’s statement regarding the actions of the IDF at a checkpoint was untrue showed a disgraceful contempt for the facts and led to her unnecessary withdrawal as a strong ALP candidate”, says Hilmi Dabbagh from BDS Australia.
“Melissa Parke’s claims turned out not just to be factual, but on the public record since 2003. The incident, for which the soldier in question was arrested, was reported by Reuters and appeared in The Age in June 2003.”
“The Israel lobby’s efforts to smear supporters of Palestine during this campaign were only too predictable. It is simply chilling that the co-director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, could claim that circumstances could “exonerate” the IDF soldier who made a Palestinian woman drink bleach at a checkpoint. Nothing “exonerates” such a barbaric action.”
“Melissa Parke, Senator Mehreen Faruqi and other candidates who were attacked by the Israel lobby are to be congratulated for their uncompromising support for Palestinians, human rights and international law and their commitment to a just peace for everyone in Palestine-Israel, regardless of their background.”
“The Greens maintained their strong support for Palestinian rights and their refusal to be cowed by the Israel lobby’s pressure is to be commended. They have not yet, however, gone far enough. We encourage The Greens, along with the ALP and indeed all political parties, to fully embrace Palestinian civil society’s call for BDS.”
“In its refusal to take a principled and long-needed stand against Israel’s crimes against Palestinian people, the Australian government has positioned itself as a particularly blinkered and irrational obstacle to peace in the Middle East. BDS Australia urges all Australians committed to peace and justice and the political parties that represent them, to adopt BDS as a matter of urgency.”
Further information: BDS is an international grassroots campaign initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005. In the face of the repeated failure of official negotiations to secure peace, the boycott movement emerged as a large-scale, civil-society response to Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian land, and the ongoing violations of human rights and international law that accompany it. BDS supports equal human rights and adherence to international law, and is opposed to racism in all forms including Anti-Semitism.
 Josh Wilson and Susan Templeman (ALP), James Cruz, Emmet de Bhaldraithe, Jonathon Doig and Connor Parissis (The Greens)
This website is maintained by BDS Australia, which is affiliated with the coalition of Palestinian organisations that leads and supports the BDS movement and by the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a BNC member organisation.