Statement on the Boycott

From the archive (legacy material)

Dennis Brutus | International Socialist Review, Issue 41 | May 2005

Since the Sixties until 1994 I have dedicated most of my time – apart from a spell on Robben Island Prison – to promote and enforce the boycott of Apartheid South Africa. I have no doubt that international solidarity, particularly in the form of the boycott campaign, contributed to change in South Africa.
Despite the political changes in South Africa, Apartheid lives on. It lives on in the oppression of the Palestinian people and their daily subjection to the racism of the Israeli state. The actions of the Israeli state is reminiscent of, and often even worse than that of the South African apartheid regime.
Apartheid South Africa also acted with impunity. It was supported by the West and let us not forget, by pariah states such as Israel and Pinochet’s Chile. It was only when people of conscience and organisations around the world pressured their own governments and multilateral institutions, did we see movement toward democracy in South Africa.
Facile arguments against the boycott of Israeli institutions are familiar to me. They were the same or similar to the arguments used against anti-apartheid activists.
Israel, like Apartheid South Africa, ignores international law and is supported in this by the major powers. The latest outrage is the near silence on the grotesque and obscene Apartheid Wall which the International Court of Justice condemned some time back. This complicity, understandably, contributes to the desperation felt by many in Palestine. The call from Palestinian academics for a peaceful boycott campaign should therefore be embraced particularly by those who pontificate against violence.
In the spirit of moral consistency and resistance to all forms of injustice I have no hesitation in supporting the call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israeli institutions. While I believe in the comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions, I applaud the recent decision of the UK based Association of University Teachers as a step in this direction.
I call on academics and scholars throughout the world to join us in this action.
Dennis Brutus, professor emeritus, Department of Africana Studies
University of Pittsburgh/ Patron, Jubilee South Africa.