I take issue with Frida Ghitis’ Dec. 29 column, which claims a boycott of Israel’s academic and cultural institutions is discriminatory, and will lead to “the opposite of reconciliation.” This is the same argument that was used by opponents of the international boycott of apartheid South Africa. As with South Africa, Israel’s system of discrimination, at all institutional levels, constitutes apartheid as recognized by international law.
No military occupation since the start of the 20th century has lasted as long as that of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Israel continues to subject Palestinians to land confiscation, severe restrictions of movement and stifling economic conditions.
When the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions, they were acknowledging that those institutions function as a central part of a system that denies Palestinians their basic rights. Under today’s occupation, the academic freedom of Palestinian academics and students is severely hampered, their universities bombed, schools closed, scholars and students deported.
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a human rights leader, compared the conditions of the Palestinians under Israeli control to apartheid South Africa. For those who eulogized the great struggle of Nelson Mandela, the ASA’s courageous stand should be applauded, not condemned.