* Seeks to impose boycott and divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied against South Africa during its apartheid era
* Condemns Israel’s “persistent violations of international law” and its “system of racial discrimination, or apartheid”
Launched in January 2009 as an ally of the of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee, the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) states that its objective is to persuade “international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.”
Specifically, USACBI objects to Israel’s “persistent violations of international law”; its “system of racial discrimination, or apartheid, to which Palestinian … citizens of Israel are subjected”; its failure “to respect [the] fundamental human rights … of the people of Palestine”; and its “occupation and colonization in the 1967-occupied Palestinian territory.”
USACBI’s founding members were:
Sondra Hale, a longtime professor of anthropology, Near Eastern studies, Islamic studies, and women’s studies at UCLA
Rabab Abdulhadi, professor of women’s studies at New York University
Lara Deeb, chair of the anthropology department at Scripps College
Marcy Newman, an English professor at Boise State University and a self-described activist committed to “the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees”
Magid Shihade, assistant professor of social sciences at Lahore University of Management Sciences in Lahore, Pakistan
USACBI pledges to pursue its BDS campaign against Israel until such time as the latter “meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; recogniz[es] the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respect[s] … the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”
Calling on American colleges and universities to refrain from associating with Israeli universities, USACBI makes extensive use of social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace to disseminate its message.
According to USACBI, “Israel is distinguished from other nations” in a number of ways “that justify a boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign” against it. These include the fact that (a) “Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. aid and weapons,” which it uses not only “in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity,” but also in “such daily offenses as collective punishment, systematic torture, and, indeed, the extended occupation of Palestinian territory”; (b) “Israel has violated more United Nations resolutions than any other country in the world, and has been consistently protected by the U.S.’s Security Council veto power from any attempt to enforce those resolutions”; (c) “Israel is institutionally racist” and “engages in ethnic cleansing or ‘population transfer’ and policies that conform to international definitions of apartheid for the sake of territorial expansion”; and (d) “criticism and open discussion of Israel in the U.S. is suppressed, and critics are aggressively silenced and censored” by a powerful and deceitful Jewish lobby.
Among USACBI’s more significant board members are Hamid Dabashi, Lawrence Davidson, Ilan Pappé, and Michel Shehadeh. Desmond Tutu, former Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, is an honorary advisory board member.
As of January 2012, USACBI had been endorsed by some 599 academics, 204 cultural workers, 94 “international colleagues,” and 44 organizations. Among the more notable endorsers are Khaled Abou El Fadl, Ali Abunimah, Hamid Algar, Bill Ayers, Dana Cloud, Marjorie Cohn, Hamid Dabashi, Lawrence Davidson, Angela Davis, Nicholas De Genova, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jodie Evans, Sasan Fayazmanesh, H. Bruce Franklin, Sondra Hale, Robert Jensen, Charlotte Kates, Joel Kovel, Jennifer Loewenstein, Rania Masri, Joseph Massad, Ali Mazrui, Ilan Pappe, Julio Pino, George Salem, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Adam Shapiro, and Michel Shehadeh. Organizational support for USACBI is provided by such groups as Al-Awda, Code Pink, the Free Palestine Alliance, the Green Party of the United States, the National Council of Arab Americans, Students for Justice in Palestine, and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
USACBI has no geographical headquarters and functions primarily as a virtual community that holds local meetings.
One of USACBI’s noteworthy Organizing Committee members is Charlotte Kates.
At the time of its founding, USACBI issued a press release stating: “We believe that non-violent external pressure on Israel, in the form of an academic, cultural and economic boycott of Israel, can help bring an end to the ongoing massacres of civilians and an end [to] the occupation of Gaza and Palestine.” According to USACBI activist David Lloyd, a professor of English at the University of Southern California, the term “Palestine” refers specifically to the West Bank land occupied by Israel since the 1967 war.