Jacques Ranciére: Respects the Cultural Boycott of Apartheid Israel

25 Jan 2012



The boycott of Israel on the Academic front won a significant victory recently.  French professor Jacques Ranciere was the recipient of a letter written by the PACBI on 9 January, 2012.  The PACBI represents the voice of most of Palestinian Civil Society.  The focus is on the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.  Here is a small excerpt from the letter:

It has come to our attention at the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) that you will be giving a public lecture at the Minerva Humanities Center at Tel Aviv University on 25 January 2012. If our information is correct, then we urge you in the strongest terms to cancel your visit to an institution that is complicit in maintaining a regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid [i]. Tel Aviv University in particular is a full partner in maintaining the military and security infrastructure of the Israeli state, as outlined in two recent reports [ii].

Eight days later,  Jacques Ranciere chose to respect the academic boycott, and an announcement was made publicly and was accompanied by his statement (translated from the French):

 “I accepted the invitation to contribute to the debate on the image, of a research group whose work on photography is closely related to the exposure of violations of the rights of the Palestinian people since the birth of the State of Israel.
The intervention of a group dedicated to uphold the boycott of Israeli academic institutions by foreign researchers has changed the meaning of this visit by making a breach of the boycott a public demonstration, namely support to the State that is responsible for these violations and the situation of oppression of the Palestinian people.
I am personally opposed to collective sanctions against all citizens of a State and against its researchers, without taking into account their own attitude towards the policy of this State. I have therefore neither respected nor violated a decision that I did not personally endorse. But it appears that in the present situation, the content of what I might say in response to the invitation that was sent to me has become completely secondary to this simple alternative, and due to my fatigue – I am not able to respond satisfactorily today to the dual demands of the situation that came into being.
I must therefore – thanking the people who invited me and whose invitation I accepted – offer to postpone the visit until thinking (reflecting on) about these issues has advanced and when I feel myself more able to give a politically and intellectually satisfying answer.”

At the forefront of the efforts of the PACBI, the academic boycott is on the right track for 2012.  In a 2 January statement, the PACBI wrote:

 With this in mind, and looking forward to 2012, we call on activists to intensify all aspects of BDS, but to especially focus, whenever possible, on academic boycott. Specifically, we call on faculty and student activists to pressure their academic organizations to end collaboration with complicit Israeli academic institutions or organizations, and not to organize or participate in conferences in Israel. Furthermore, we appeal to academics not to publish in Israeli academic journals and to withdraw from editorial boards of international journals based at Israeli universities. We also urge academics and students to oppose study-abroad programs that place students from the US and Europe at Israeli universities.  The ongoing campaign by California State University (CSU) faculty and students against the renewal of the CSU-Israel study abroad scheme is an inspiration [9].

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