The Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott Initiative (PACBI) has issued a statement encouraging Margaret Atwood not to accept the Dan David prize, which is based at Tel Aviv University (TAU). The PACBI statement is reproduced below. At the same time, the Palestinian Students Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) issued an open letter from students in Gaza urging Atwood not to stand on the wrong side of history. This letter was endorsed by the University Teachers' Association in Palestine.
As the PACBI statement concludes, we at CAIA are also appealing to Atwood's:
— Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid - www.caiaweb.org.
Atwood – Do Not Accept Prizes from Apartheid Israel
The Palestinian community of writers and intellectuals is highly disappointed by your decision to accept the Dan David prize, which is based at Tel Aviv University (TAU). Your writings exhibit a sophisticated understanding of colonialism, structures of political power and oppression, yet your visit to Israel comes just over one year after its bloody assault on the occupied Gaza Strip during which it killed and injured thousands of Palestinian civilians and caused massive destruction to homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, factories, UN buildings, agricultural fields and infrastructure. In this light, your acceptance of a prize administered by Tel Aviv University and awarded in the presence of the Israeli President Shimon Peres can only be interpreted by Palestinian civil society as complicity in whitewashing Israel’s crimes, colonization and system of apartheid. Your vast literary portfolio will forever be attached to the draconian machine of Israeli colonial and racist policy.
Last summer, following the assault on Gaza, the Israeli government announced a new effort to ‘rebrand’ Israel in the eyes of the world as a liberal nation enjoying membership in the Western club of democracies. In addition to the various forms of cultural outreach designed to highlight Israel’s achievements, this effort included inviting more writers and artists to Israel in order to show the ‘civilised’ side of Israel and help cover up the reality of occupation and the brutal treatment of the Palestinians. Your appearance in Israel would lend itself to this well-oiled campaign to whitewash Israel's grave violations of international law and basic human rights. Above everything else, it would serve to deflect attention away from Israel's three forms of oppression against the Palestinian people: the legalized and institutionalized system of racial discrimination against the Palestinian citizens of Israel; the military occupation of the West Bank, including East-Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip; and the continuous denial of the Palestinian refugees’ UN-sanctioned right to return to their homes and to receive just reparations.
These efforts cannot disguise the dark side of the story, the 43 years of an increasingly brutal military occupation, during which Israel systematically colonized Palestinian land with the goal of gradually emptying it of its original inhabitants in order to use it for the benefit of Jewish settlers. Despite the “peace process” which began years ago, Israel routinely violates the Palestinians’ most fundamental human rights with impunity, as documented by local and international human rights organisations. Israel extra-judicially kills Palestinian leaders and activists; keeps over 9,000 Palestinians imprisoned, including numerous members of parliament; subjects all Palestinians under occupation to daily humiliation, intimidation and military violence; and continues to construct and expand its colonial Wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague in July 2004.
Tel Aviv University, the institution administering this award, as other Israeli academic institutions, is notorious for its deep and well documented collaboration with the Israeli military and intelligence establishment, its racially exclusivist university policy toward Palestinian citizens of Israel, and its refusal to acknowledge its past and to commemorate the destroyed Palestinian village on which grounds it was built.
A comprehensive report by the Palestine Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) presents strong evidence of intensive, purposive and open institutional cooperation of TAU with the Israeli military establishment. TAU must therefore be condemned for providing cross-departmental legal, technological and strategic support for maintaining and deepening the Israeli occupation by assisting ongoing lethal assaults on the occupied Palestinian territories and by defending and justifying Israel’s occupation policies. These policies are implicitly and explicitly supported by TAU's Law Faculty which appointed an Israeli army colonel, Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, to its staff recently. As the army’s principal international law counsel Sharvit-Baruch is responsible for green-lighting the decision to target civilian infrastructure and for a ‘relaxing of the rules of engagement’ regarding civilians on the army’s International Law Division. The SOAS Report points out:
With the Dan David Prize allegedly aiming “to foster universal values of…justice, democracy and progress and to promote the …humanistic achievements that advance and improve our world.” Tel Aviv University is only attempting to distract from its criminal record.
The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee recently stated that “Palestine today has become the test of our indispensible morality and common humanity.” In the face of decades of unrelenting oppression, Palestinian civil society has called upon supporters of the struggle for freedom and justice throughout the world to take a stand and heed our call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it recognises Palestinian rights and fully complies with international law. Many prominent international cultural figures including John Berger, Ken Loach, Arundhati Roy, Roger Waters, John Williams, among others, have declared their support for the boycott. Other renowned international artists, including Sting, Bono, Snoop Dog, Jean Luc Goddard and Joan Manuel Serrat have also heeded our call and cancelled their gigs or participation in festivals in Israel (see International Guidelines for the Academic Boycott of Israel).
In conclusion, and appealing to your sense of justice and moral consistency, we hope that, until Israel fully abides by international law, you shall treat it exactly as most of the world treated racist South Africa, or indeed any other state that legislates and practices apartheid: a pariah state. Only then can there be a real chance for a just peace in harmony with international law and based on equal human rights for all, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or other identity considerations. We urge you to reject the prize and to refuse to participate in a ceremony presided over by the head of a state accused of war crimes and other serious violations of international law.
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was launched in Ramallah in April 2004 by a group of Palestinian academics and intellectuals to join the growing international boycott movement. This statement was published on their website www.pacbi.org.
An Open Letter to Margaret Atwood from Gaza: Don’t Stand on the Wrong Side of History
Dear Ms. Atwood,
We are students from Gaza representing more than 10 academic institutions therein. Our grandparents are refugees who were expelled from their homes in the 1948 Nakba. They still have their keys locked up in their closets and will pass them on to their children, our parents. Many of us have lost our fathers, some of us have lost our mothers, and some of us lost both in the last Israeli aggression against civilians in Gaza. Others still lost a body part from the flesh-burning white phosphorous that Israel used, and are now permanently physically challenged. Most of us lost our homes, and are now living in tents, as Israel refuses to allow basic construction materials into Gaza. And most of all, we are all still living in what has come to be a festering sore on humanity's conscience – the brutal, hermetic, medieval siege that Israel is perpetrating against us, the 1.5 million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip.
Many of us have encountered your writing during our university studies. Although your books are not available in Gaza – because Israel does not allow books, paper, and other stationary in – we are familiar with your leftist, feminist, overtly political writing. And most of all, we are aware of your strong stance against apartheid. You admirably supported sanctions against apartheid South Africa and called for resistance against all forms of oppression.
Now, we have heard that you are to receive a prize this spring at Tel Aviv University (TAU). We, the students of besieged Gaza, urge you not to go. As our professors, teachers and anti-apartheid comrades used to tell us, there was no negotiation with the brutal racist regime of South Africa. Nor was there much communication. Just one word: BOYCOTT. You must be aware that Israel was a sister state to the apartheid regime before 1994. Many South African anti-apartheid heroes, including Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have described Israel’s oppression as apartheid. Some describe Israeli settler-colonialism and occupation as surpassing apartheid’s evil. F-16s, F-15s, F-35s, Apache helicopters, Merkava tanks, and white phosphorous were not used against black townships.
Ms. Atwood, in the Gaza concentration camp, students who have been awarded scholarships to universities abroad are prevented, every year, from pursuing their hard-earned opportunity for academic achievement. Within the Gaza Strip, those seeking an education are limited by increasing poverty rates and a scarcity of fuel for transportation, both of which are direct results of Israel’s medieval siege. What is TAU’s position vis-à-vis this form of illegal collective punishment, described by Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, as a “prelude to genocide?” Not a single word of condemnation has been heard from any Israeli academic institution!
Participating in normal relations with Tel Aviv University is giving tacit approval to its racially exclusive policy toward Palestinian citizens of Israel. We are certain you would hate to support an institution that upholds so faithfully the apartheid system of its state. Tel Aviv University has a long and well-documented history of collaboration with the Israeli military and intelligence services. This is particularly shameful after Israel’s bloody military assault against the occupied Gaza Strip, which, according to leading international and local human rights organizations, left over 1,440 Palestinians dead and 5380 injured. We are certain you would hate to support an institution that supports a military apparatus that murdered over 430 children.
By accepting the prize at Tel Aviv University, you will be indirectly giving a slight and inadvertent nod to Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide. This university has refused to commemorate the destroyed Palestinian village on which it was built. That village is called Sheikh Muwanis, and it no longer exists as a result of Israel’s confiscation. Its people have been expelled.
Let us remember the words of Archbishop Desmund Tutu: “if you choose to be neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” As such, we call upon you to say no to neutrality, no to being on the fence, no to normalization with apartheid Israel, not after the blood of more than 400 children has been spilt! No to occupation, repression, settler colonialism, settlement expansion, home demolition, land expropriation and the system of discrimination against the indigenous population of Palestine, and no to the formation of Bantustans in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip!
Just as every citizen knew that s/he had a moral responsibility to boycott apartheid in South Africa after the Sharpeville massacre, Gaza 2009 was the world's wake-up call. All of Israel's academic institutions are state-run and state-funded. To partake of any of their prizes or to accept any of their blandishments is to uphold their heinous political actions. Israel has continually violated international law in defiance of the world. It is illegally occupying Palestinian land. It continues its aggression against the Palestinian people. Israel denies Palestinians all of the democratic liberties it so proudly, fictitiously flaunts. Israel is an apartheid regime that denies Palestinian refugees their right of return as sanctioned by UN resolution 194.
Attending the symposium would violate the unanimously endorsed Palestinian civil society call for Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. This call is also directed toward international activists, artists, and academics of conscience, such as you. We are certain that you would love to be a part of the noble struggle against the apartheid, colonization and occupation that the Palestinian people have been subjected to for the past 61 years, a struggle that is ongoing.
Ms. Atwood, we consider you to be what the late Edward Said called an “oppositional intellectual.” As such, and given our veneration of your work, we would be both emotionally and psychologically wounded to see you attend the symposium. You are a great woman of words, of that we have no doubt. But we think you would agree, too, that actions speak louder than words. We all await your decision.
The Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
Endorsed by The University Teachers’ Association in Palestine
The American medical system is a corporate HMO rip-off system that feeds on the people.
The medical insurance companies, HMO’s profit more by denying people medical care then by providing it.
In highly industrialized America, richest country on earth, some fifty thousand people die each year from treatable illnesses simply because they cannot afford to see a doctor.
More than forty six million Americans are too poor to afford medical insurance, many of them working.
The National Academy of Sciences, has estimated that lack of health insurance in the United States costs between $65 and $130 billion per year, due to health impairments and lost productivity.
Isn't it time for the American people to stop being the victims of medical insurance companies, and HMO's?
How many more Americans must die so that medical insurance companies can profit?
Contact your state representatives and tell them to vote yes for the health care plan. Although it does not contain a government run public option, which would have been much better, it will still let thirty million more Americans go to a doctor and get proper medical care.
It isn't perfect and it continues to allow the insurance companies to sit on the backs of the American people bleeding their country, but it's less brutal than our present system which now allows insurance company representatives to openly overrule doctors and deny claims and treatments to Americans souly for the purpose of profit.
Don't let the republicans and a few turncoat democrats doom the American people to another decade of exploitation and 'death for profit'. Go to this link, and select your state to access you representative's office phone number and other contact information: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/
Cindy Sheehan (National Executive Director) 707-301-6177
Joshua Smith (National Operations Director) 214-566-2137
Robby Diesu (DC Coordinator) 631-241-6966
Enough is enough! It's time we up the ante and demand that our voices be heard and heeded. It's time that the logical and rational voices of reason get a Peace of the Action.
While the wars in Central Asia and the Middle East rage hotter and hotter, and while the suppression of our civil liberties here in the U.S. continue, Peace of the Action is demanding an immediate cessation to U.S. hostilities.
Peace of the Action will be establishing Camp OUT NOW on the lawn of the Washington Monument (with or without governmental permission) on Saturday, March 13th, (exactly 23 days from today), to be a base of operations from which we will organize and direct daily acts of Civil Resistance throughout the DC area and until our demands are officially recognized.
The first week of Camp OUT NOW, we will be holding non-violent Civil Resistance training, hosting Peace notables and being invigorated by musicians as we start building the community that we are going to need in order to help each other through the planned sustained actions.
All persons, who have had enough of "business as usual" in DC and are willing to put our anti-war, pro humanity principles into practice, are invited to come out to Camp OUT NOW and stay with us for as little or as long as you have available.
Direct acts of non-violent Civil Resistance will begin Monday, March 22nd after we have joined ANSWER Coalition in its "March on Washington" on Saturday, March 20th.
For more information please visit www.peaceoftheaction.org, call or e-mail us.
Cindy Sheehan (National Executive Director) 707-301-6177
Joshua Smith (National Operations Director) 214-566-2137
Robby Diesu (DC Coordinator) 631-241-6966
Public Option "Plan B" In the Works
You’ve probably heard the reports that some Democrats in the Senate or at least senators who caucus with the Democrats are threatening to filibuster the health care bill if it contains a public option. Sen. Joseph Lieberman [I, CT], for example, says he’ll join Republicans on a filibuster of a bill that includes a public option and isn’t willing to wiggle on his position. Other Democrats that are not supportive of the public option and have not ruled out filibustering include Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE], Sen. Evan Bayh [D, IN], Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] and Sen. Mary Landrieu [D, LA].
The democrats in the House have already sold the American people out. They sided with the insurance companies and the corporate health care industry against the people. It really is quite despicable that these so called elected officials would continue to deny the people a just and humane health care system.
This is why Americans must stand up and make their voices heard NOW! Your chance for a fair society is being stolen from you. Use the link below to locate your Senator's telephone number in Washington. Call their office and tell them your name and address, tell them you vote, and tell them you are against the corporate health care plan that was passed in the House of Representatives. Tell them you want a plan that contains a government run public option that competes with the corporate health care monopoly and provides real health care for all Americans including the poor and unemployed.
The Bushites and the fascists haven't gone away just because Obama is in office, they are right there in the American peoples faces robbing them of trillions of dollars with the planed banking debacle, and the ten trillion dollar "never ending war" based on lies, and numerous tax 'giveaways' for corporations and the super rich.
Our government, our president and congress no longer serve the people, they have become corporate military industrial bank lackeys. In the past year Obama has given 25 trillion- $25,000,000,000,000. to the international Federal reserve banking thieves. Our so-called leaders are helping their true masters to loot America into collapse, economically bleeding and enslaving the people for generations to come. Bush removed the rules and regulations that once protected the American people, now it's a feeding frenzy for the rich and powerful, and now it's the insurance companies turn to take their pound of flesh from the American people.
The republicans bragged that they would defeat this health care bill and "break Obama" once and for all, but it's really the American people they are breaking.
If we the people do not stand up and make our voices heard this outrage will soon be passed into law. Enrollment for every working American will be mandatory and the IRS will oversee payments to the insurance companies. It means a seventy billion dollar annual increase in profits for wealthy insurance company stockholders, and grinding corporate slavery for the American people. When an individual is forced against their will to give their money to a privately owned entity, profiting wealthy stockholders and non-governmental concerns, this is slavery. The rich and powerful are using our corrupt government to force us into corporate slavery. Resist it my friends or America won’t be worth living in.
The American medical system is a government approved corporate HMO rip-off system that feeds on the people. The medical insurance companies, HMO’s profit more by denying people medical care then by providing it. In highly industrialized America, richest country on earth, some fifty thousand people die each year from treatable illnesses simply because they cannot afford to see a doctor. More than forty six million Americans are too poor to afford medical insurance, many of them working.
Isn't it time for the American people to get up off their knees and make the politicians and the bloodthirsty corporations give something back?
Contact your Senator and tell them to reject the corporate health care plan that passed in the House. Tell them you want a "government run public option" that lets all Americans go to a doctor and get proper medical care including the working poor and the unemployed, without forced corporate servitude.
Go to this link, and "Select State" from the pull down menu (not the map) and press the 'GO' button. Your State Senators names will appear at the top of the next page, then select a particular Senator by clicking directly on his name and then click the 'GO' button to access his/her office phone number and other contact information: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/officials/
As Chris Bowers points out in openleft.com- "In both branches of Congress, Democrats already have the votes and procedural options in place to pass a public option on health insurence reform. This means it is possible to pass a public option now. It also means that if a public option does not pass as part of health care reform, it will be a because of a political calculation made by the Democratic leadership, not because there was no way to pass one."
Now is your chance Americans. The democrats are weighing their political careers and reputations against the financial gains of going along with the insurance companies and the corporate health care industry against the American people. It really is quite despicable to continue to deny the people health care and the politicians know it. None of them wants to be seen as one of the greedy bums that helped screw the people out of health care yet again. But if they don't think the people are watching they will vote against the public option and corporate special interests will have scored yet another cruel victory against the people.
This is why Americans must stand up now and make their voices heard. Use the link below to locate your congressman's telephone number in Washington. Call their offices and tell them your name and address so they will know you are a real person, and say that you are a voter and you want them to vote "YES" on the "public option".
The Bushites and the fascists haven't gone away just because Obama is in office, they are right there in the American peoples faces robbing them of trillions of dollars with the planed banking debacles, the ten trillion dollar war based on lies, and the numerous tax 'give aways' to corporations and the super rich. The republicans are already bragging that when they defeat this bill they will "break Obama" once and for all. But who are they really going to break, Obama or the American people?
The American medical system is a corporate government HMO rip-off system that feeds on the people. The medical insurance companies, HMO’s profit more by denying people medical care then by providing it. In highly industrialized America, richest country on earth, some fifty thousand people die each year from treatable illnesses simply because they cannot afford to see a doctor. More than forty six million Americans have no medical insurance, many of them working.
Make the politicians and the bloodthirsty corporations give something back. Contact your congressman and tell them you want them to vote "YES" on the "public option". If enough of the American people will let the politicians know that 'we the people' are watching them on this, just like we watch them on Social Security, the people will win this and finally all Americans instead of just the privileged will be able to go to a doctor and get proper medical care.
Go to this link, and "Select State" from the pull down menu (not the map) and press the 'GO' button. Your congerssmans names will appear at the top of the next page, then select a particular congressman by clicking directly on his name and then click the 'GO' button to access his/her office phone number and other contact information: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/officials/
from Kevin Zeese
Civil disobedience is part of a national mobilization to end insurance abuse and win real health care reform
Contact: Lacy MacAuley, (202) 445-4692, firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie Robbins, Healthcare-NOW! (330) 618-6379, email@example.com
Kai Newkirk, Mobilization for Health Care for All, (310) 703-3046, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Zeese, Prosperity Agenda, 301-996-6582, email@example.com
Washington DC – Citizens and health care providers are participating in sit-ins at health insurance offices in nine cities across the country on Thursday to call for real reform that addresses the real cause of the health care crisis, the insurance companies. Within the past 16 days, over 700 people have signed up to risk arrest by sitting down in an insurance company office and refusing to leave, demanding the immediate approval of lifesaving doctor-recommended treatment and an end to denial of care.
The actions are the start of a national movement, coordinated by the group Mobilization for Health Care for All, of people who are fed up with the state of health care in this country, fed up with the state of the health care debate in this country, and are putting themselves on the line for real health care reform. Chanting messages such as "patients not profits," participants in the actions are expected to say that insurance companies that deny people the care that they need for profit are the real death panels. They will show that the legislation currently in the limelight fails to address the real problem, the insurance companies.
The mobilization was launched two weeks ago when 17 people were arrested at an Aetna office in downtown New York City (read New York Times city blog write-up). Last week, 7 were arrested at a Cigna office in downtown Chicago (see Associated Press article). (View videos of New York sit-in and Chicago sit-in on YouTube.)
"The health care bill being voted on this week is a giveaway to the insurance industry," said Kevin Zeese, executive director of Prosperity Agenda, one of the groups that launched the national mobilization. "If it were passed, tens of millions of Americans will be forced to buy overpriced insurance, which will result in hundreds of billions in new annual revenue for the insurance industry and continued deaths and suffering due to insurance abuse and denials."
National efforts are part of the Patients Not Profit campaign of the Mobilization for Health Care for All. The mobilization was launched by several national organizations. the actions are coordinated in cooperation with local groups based in each city and give people an outlet for their frustration and even outrage about insurance company abuse. The groups advocate for Medicare for All, a public single payer health care plan that expands Medicare to cover everyone.
"This will be one of the largest campaigns of nonviolent civil disobedience since the civil rights movement," stated Kai Newkirk, national coordinator for the Mobilization for Health Care for All. "It's just beginning and will continue and build until the insurance companies no longer stand between us and the care we need."
# # #
For more information:
Mobilization for Health Care for All Mobilization for Health Care for All
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