BDS encourages Israel to enter into a two-state dialogue

By Nick Riemer

Published in The Australian, 

A major national conference on the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign for Palestine will be held at the University of Sydney this week.

Predictably, the conference has been met with stock accusations of anti-Semitism.

With the baselessness of that charge increasingly apparent, it’s a good time to consider a more ­serious objection to academic BDS: the idea that academics’ duty is to privilege dialogue and debate, not boycott, as the pathway to a more peaceful world.

In fact, BDS springs from the failure of dialogue to secure peace. Initiated in 2005 by more than 170 Palestinian civil-society organisations, the campaign is a response to the blockade, illegal settlements, home demolitions, water theft, checkpoints and summary killings that turn the everyday life of an entire people into a waking nightmare. Continue reading

BDS – Driving Global Justice for Palestine, 28-29 July 2017

The Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, Sydney University Staff for BDS, and a range of pro-Palestinian organisations including the Australia Palestine Advocacy network (APAN) are calling on supporters of Palestine justice, both activists and researchers, to participate in a two-day conference, ‘BDS – Driving Global Justice for Palestine’, which will be held at the University of Sydney on 28-29 July, 2017.

Registration is open and free. Register now!

View the final programme and speaker list.

The keynote speakers are Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, author, playwright and political commentator Samah Sabawi and Ghassan Hage, Future Generation Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory, University of Melbourne.

The recent UN Security Council resolution declaring Israeli settlements in ‘flagrant violation’ of international law and calling for a halt to all settlement activity, followed by Israel’s retrospective legalisation of thousands of settlements on stolen Palestinian land, acutely raises the question of what steps can be taken to promote justice, along with genuine peace, in the region.

In line with the call from Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanctions, this conference, held to mark the centenary of the Balfour declaration and the 50th anniversary of Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, will analyse the current politics of BDS in Australia and abroad, reflect on previous BDS activity, and contribute to greater public understanding of the BDS campaign.

Over thirty papers will be presented by speakers based in Palestine, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Italy, the US, and Japan. Sessions will cover topics such as:

  • critiques of BDS and responding to them
  • Palestine, students and activism
  • Zionism and BDS
  • freedom of speech, academic freedom and BDS
  • Anti-Semitism
  • legal attacks on BDS
  • Justice-work, activism and BDS in academia
  • the Israel lobby
  • BDS in Palestine and abroad
  • Palestine, unions and politics
  • arms, cultural and sporting boycotts
  • Palestine and the Jewish community.

The conference starts at 9.00 on Friday July 28 and runs until 5.30 on Saturday evening. Yousef  Munayyer’s plenary will be at 6.30pm on Friday evening.

See here for the conference announcement from the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies.

The academic programme committee is here.

Download the conference poster here.

Twitter: @bdssyd17