Letter to London School of Economics

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

Palestinian Organisations | Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) | 27 March 2005

Important Letter from Palestinian Organisations to London School of Economics:
Professor Mary Kaldor
Professor David Held
Centre for the Study of Global Governance
London School of Economics
27 March 2005
Dear Professors Kaldor and Held,
We are writing to you to voice our profound concern about a project for which your Centre has provided support, mainly through the administration of the Irfan Ali Mowjee Memorial Award and the partnership with Growing Sustainable Peace, the Jerusalem-based organisation sponsoring the project. Moreover, Professor Kaldor is listed as an advisor to Growing Sustainable Peace.
We, Palestinian organisations active in environmental work and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)[1] believe that the project, entitled “Water Conservation, Conflict Resolution, and Renewable Energy in the West Bank,” is seriously flawed and particularly ill conceived and timed. The project aims to “introduce innovative environmental technology to Palestinian small-scale farmers affected by the Separation Barrier. In addition to its environmental goals, the GSP aims to engender trust and empower all the parties involved-key building blocks to conflict resolution.”[2]
We believe that there are several objectionable aspects to this project. First, and especially in light of the recent advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) declaring the Wall illegal, we think that the proper course of action for conscientious students and academics is to work with Palestinian farmers to bring it down, rather than assisting the victims to accommodate themselves to it. It is public knowledge today that aside from its larger political implications and consequences, the Wall has not only entailed large-scale expropriation of agricultural land, but has also separated Palestinian farmers from their fields and source of livelihood. It should be noted that the ICJ opinion made it clear that “the construction of the wall, and its associated regime, are contrary to international law,” and declared that “Israel is under an obligation to return the land, orchards, olive groves and other immovable property seized from any natural or legal person for purposes of construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”[3]
Furthermore, the ICJ ruling clearly declares that all states are under the “Obligation … not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction … [and] to see to it that any impediment, resulting from the construction of the wall, to the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self‑determination is brought to an end.”[4] It is therefore regrettable that the initiators of this project have conceived their plans in total disregard for the ruling of the highest international judicial body and for their legal and moral obligations stemming from it.
Second, the project description indicates that “interruptions” to farming in the West Bank “exasperate[sic] [the] Israeli-Palestinian conflict and continue the downward spiral of trust deterioration.”[5] We think that as prominent scholars you would recognise that this simplistic formulation of an extremely serious issue does not do a service to the search for truth. Even if we assume that the students who framed the issue in this way (totally avoiding acknowledgment of the West Bank as occupied territory) are naïve enough to believe that “interruptions” to farming in the Occupied Palestinian Territories “exasperate [exacerbate] the conflict,” we believe that your Centre, as a leading institution of academic excellence, should have been more critical in assessing the political implications and intellectual honesty of this project. It should be obvious, after nearly four decades of Israeli colonial rule over the Palestinians, that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is the source of the “conflict” between the Palestinians and Israelis, and that the “interruptions” in farming originate in the occupation and will persist as long as it continues. Put bluntly, we believe that palliative measures such as teaching farmers how to “increase agricultural water efficiency and promote environmental protection” in the face of large-scale theft of Palestinian land and water are politically suspect in that they accept the status quo, particularly the creation of the Wall, as a given.
Third, the project is informed by another naïve idea that has serious political implications for the achievement of justice in Palestine. Not only is the project viewed as part of “conflict resolution,” but it is also supposed to “engender trust and empower all the parties involved.” We hope that you agree with us that helping Palestinian farmers accommodate themselves to the horrific implications of the Wall has nothing to do with conflict resolution or the achievement of peace with justice; neither does it help empower anyone, least of all the Palestinian victims of the occupation and the monstrous Wall.
We sincerely hope that your Centre will distance itself from this project and from Growing Sustainable Peace, an ill-conceived and politically damaging initiative.
Yours sincerely,
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)
The Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign
Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees
Ma’an Development Center
Health Work Committees
Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees
Tulkarem Popular Committees to Resist the Apartheid Wall
Jenin Popular committees to Resist the Apartheid wall
Qalqilya Popular Committees to Resist the Apartheid Wall
Salfeit Popular Committees to Resist the Apartheid Wall
Ramallah Popular Committees to Resist the Apartheid Wall
Jerusalem East Villages’ Popular Committees to Resist the Apartheid Wall
Bethlehem Popular Committees to Resist the Apartheid Wall
Hebron Popular Committees to Resist the Apartheid Wall
Below are excerpts from a letter addressed to PACBI from the Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign:
“We are not asking for the deteriorating conditions of the Occupation and its Apartheid Wall to be made more bearable and tolerable. We remain deeply suspicious of the goals and aims of any external organization which doesn’t state the illegality of the Wall as determined by the ICJ, as the basis for any form of developmental work in Palestine. Furthermore, we pledge to confront and challenge any organization which attempts to be complicit in the system of Apartheid which the Occupation is attempting to force upon us.
“The Centre for the Study of Global Governance is going down a very dangerous route in its decision to become involved in the Growing Sustainable Peace initiative. The GSP states that it “aims to engender trust and empower all the parties involved [in] key building blocks to conflict resolution”. These goals are futile unless the Wall is torn down, the Occupation ended and the settlements dismantled. This is the root of the “conflict” and the basis by which it can be resolved. More alarmingly, the goals of the GSP and those who seek to engage in similar developmental activities, serve to create a complicity and legitimacy for the implementation of the Apartheid system and perpetuate the Occupation.
“We are all too familiar how Israel manipulates the so-called “ceasefire” and de-facto impasse. For years the realities they constructed on the ground for Palestinians has been the continued colonization and theft of our lands. Now this system seeks to annex its 200 or so illegal settlements into some kind of Greater Israel; complete the project to expel all Palestinians from Jerusalem; and steal a total of 47% of the West Bank for its Jewish-only roads; settlements; military, industrial and security zones. We will never accept imprisonment in ghettos and Bantustans, where freedom of movement is completely regulated by the Occupation Forces.”
Excerpts from a letter from the Popular Committees of The Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign:
“We completely reject the work of any external organization which fails to state the illegality of the Wall as determined by the ICJ, as the basis for its developmental work in Palestine. Furthermore, we will confront any so-called “development” activities in our areas which seek to be complicit in the Occupation or its Apartheid Wall in any form. The goals and aims of the Growing Sustainable Peace initiative, with which The Centre for the Study of Global Governance is now engaged in partnership, believes humanitarian assistance can create “trust” and “conflict resolution”. It is preposterous to suggest that this can occur with the existence of the Apartheid Wall. Moreover, such assistance will legitimize the Occupation and its plans for the Bantustanization and Ghettoization of the West Bank. We find the aims of The Centre for the Study of Global Governance totally unacceptable, and we vow to resist all such “developmental” initiatives being imposed upon us from outside.
“The only assistance we need from the international community, and developmental organizations, is in the destruction of the Apartheid Wall, then damages for the costs we have incurred, and the full requisition of our land. We welcome any organization which uses these motives as the primary driving force in its work.”
[1] The full text of the Palestinian Call for Boycott — issued by PACBI and supported by tens of the most important Palestinian unions, associations and organizations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza — can be found at: http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article178
[2] www.lse.ac.uk/collections/pressAndInformationOffice/newsAndEvents/archives/
[4] http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/idocket/imwp/imwpframe.htm
[5] http://www.growingpeace.org/Projects.htm