Why did I sign the Guardian Letter in support of the AUT boycott?

From the www.monabaker.com archive (legacy material)

Yehudith Harel | Occupation Magazine | 24 May 2005

For me as an Israeli, supporting the academic boycott is not a difficult matter at all. Maybe I am a simpleton and can`t see the whole picture, but for me, as an anti occupation activist, supporting the boycott and calling for its support is really a very simple matter. Israel is continuing to commit war crimes in the occupied territories and sometimes even crimes against humanity. The 38 years old military occupation of the Palestinian territories is going on and on and does not seem to dwindle, nor come to an End. On the contrary. While Sharon is already enjoying the political benefits of the credit granted to him for a `disengagement` that he has not yet realized, the atrocities on the ground continue. The confiscation of Palestinian lands and the construction of the settlements continues and is even intensified in certain areas Sharon plans to annex - such as Maaleh Edomim, Kiryat Sefer and other places west to the Wall. The Wall - the newest and biggest atrocity - causing immeasurable suffering to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian people, is being continued unhindered on expense of Palestinian land, property and livelyhood; The settlers continue to harass Palestinians all over the WB and especially in Hebron, while the army turns a blind eye on most of their activities. The above, and much more that we all know too well is going on and on and nothing effective is being done or suggested to stop it. Till now the small local and international anti-occupation groups, (ISM, and Anarchists Against the Wall etc.) the only `forces` on the ground who try to do something - have had not more than a marginal impact - if any - on the developments. Their protest activities are brutally targetted by the Israeli occupation forces and there is no sufficient international response to these events. As I am totally opposed to indiscriminate violence and harming and killing innocent people - I think that any reasonable non - violent action that has the slightest chance to make a difference is commendable. I think that in the current situation any boycott of any Israeli Institution is welcome. I wish that the civilized world would boycott Israel altogether - in every field - first of all of course impose a weapons ban- etc. However, as this is totally impossible because of the American politics and the European bad conscience concerning the Holocaust - the civil society should start boycotting the Israeli civil society. I think that an academic and cultural boycott is more just than an economic one because the academic and cultural boycott may affect the upper classes more than the poor people who would be effected by an economic boycott. The Israeli Intellectuals and upper classes should start to feel that they are considered and treated as Pariah by the international community. These people may care about such a treatment and may start to move their asses and exert their influence on the decision making levels. Just the other day I heard something most meaningful: I heard that Tsipi Livni and Ehud Olmert were asked how come they became much more moderate and pragmatists concerning `Eretz Israel Hashlema` (Greater Israel) and their answer was incredible: they expressed their honest and deep concern over the possibility of loosing the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish State. They said that they feared that the current situation causes a dangerous erosion of the international legitimacy granted to the Jewish State... This is great. This is exactly the purpose of the academic and cultural boycott: to show Israeli elites that Israel`s legitimacy cannot be taken for granted. When I come back from Hebron where I see the atrocities that are committed there by the settlers under the auspices of the military ( just go to: http://www.cpt.org/gallery/slideshow.php?set_albumName=album03 When I witness such things I don`t only yearn for a boycott to be imposed on ISRAEL... Unfortunately, I do believe that a country that allows such things to happen, has already stooped below the lowest level of acceptability. I rather do not say what else I feel and think... Any way, such attrocities, although not in the same intensity happen all over the West Bank, especially nowadays with the elaborate system of `only for Jews roads` and the Ghettoization of whole Palestinian communities in the WB by the closure (erection of impregnable barriers at the entrance to villages) or the Annexation Wall that is snaking through Palestinian land, destroying agricultural fields, orchards and hot-houses, destroying the wildlife, separating people from their lands and livelyhood, children from their schools and patiens from their doctors and cllinics and hospitals. Another most important claim in my arsenal of pro-boycott arguments is the fact that the Israeli authorities make it totally impossible for any non-viloent protest to take palce. Look what is happening at the anti-Wall rallies at Bilin, Beit Likia and other palces. The army is shooting at and harming the unarmed and non-violent demonstartors like mad dogs, wounding and murdering innocent people - like the two children of Beit Likia and before that in many other places like Tubbas, Rafah and Khan Yunes etc. As I am not willing to be engaged in nor condone any violent activity - nor to explode myself or jump from the roof - calling to support the boycott is indeed the last non-violeny action I can call for. I am in favor of an overall boycott on Israel in every possible sense. I think that a boycott can help, like it did in South Africa. I think thay the AUT boycott is a first important step in this direction and the fact that the Israeli and Zionist establishments created such a huge noise about it shows its importance. We cannot manage by ourselves and we need help from abroad, even if some of those `partners` may have a different hidden agenda. We came to a point where the Israeli public opinion can only be shattered by external developpments. That is why we need to appeal to the international community amd mobilize whtever support we can.