Film and Media scholars & makers condemn Gaza assault, endorse BDS

IDF air strike on Gaza

This Open Letter, to date containing 147 signatures, was drafted by members of the Middle East Caucus (MEC) of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS), and has been endorsed by the Asian/Pacific American Caucus of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, “the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, Faculty 4 Palestinethe Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, the Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine, and the Palestine Solidarity Committee in India.  The Letter will eventually be submitted to the SCMS Executive Council along with a request that it facilitate an organization-wide consideration of BDS endorsement.  The full list of signatories may be found at this link.  Additional signatures from scholars and the film/media community may be submitted to [email protected].

As scholars, artists and community organizers, and as members of the Middle East Caucus (MEC) of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS), we are deeply disturbed by the indiscriminate and disproportionate violence that has been waged these past weeks by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) against the civilian population of Gaza. This is a population which has been living under a tight military and economic siege, enacted by Israel and bankrolled by the United States and its allies, for the past seven years in what has countless times been described as the largest “open air prison” in the world. While there are negotiations for a long-term ceasefire underway, Gaza has recently undergone devastating military bombardment by the Israeli army, turning it yet again into a humanitarian disaster. The siege affects everyone in Gaza, including students and educators, families and children, doctors and paramedics, farmers and civil society workers, all of whom are unable to find refuge. By all counts and in the mildest of terms, the violence has taken an unprecedented and savage turn, having reached genocidal proportions. Children who would otherwise be in school play one day on the beach in defiance of their parents’ fears and Israeli bombardments, and in an instant are purposefully targeted in plain sight by Israeli naval ships, their deaths captured by various media. As they run away from the first shelling, they are killed by the second, as incredulous journalists look on. Entire families die together now, neighborhoods wiped out. As of this writing, roughly 2,000 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 10,000 injured in Gaza in this latest Israeli aggression, the third in six years, not to mention the lifetime injuries that defy quantification. A conservative estimate posits roughly eighty percent of those killed are civilian; among them more than 460 are children. Israel has yet again declared war on Palestinian civilians, students and academic institutions, without addressing its illegal occupation and besiegement of them.

Israel must be held accountable to international law and humanitarian principles, which prohibit collective punishment and stipulate the protection of civilians during times of war. International human rights organizations have documented IDF violations of fundamental norms of international law in what amounts to Israeli war crimes in Gaza. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported after only the first week of the assault, “Horrific developments in Gaza have reached intolerable heights: Israel is bombing houses with people in them, entire families have been buried under rubble, and streets lie in ruins. Hundreds have been killed so far, dozens in the last 24 hours only, many of them women and children. The number of refugees is rising: tens of thousands of people have nowhere to go and no safe haven.”

To remember the victims of past genocides and atrocities, we must also condemn present ones. We cannot condemn one genocide and tolerate another. We cannot accept or deny the wanton murder of others that we would otherwise find horrific, not under any justification.

In view of these conditions, and in an effort to add our voices to countless others worldwide who are speaking out to condemn and stand firm against the Israel atrocities, the MEC of SCMS endorses the Call for international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel that originated in Palestinian civil society in 2005. This non-violent call was modeled on the Call for BDS against the apartheid government of South Africa in the 1970s. In so doing, the MEC acknowledges, with appreciation, recent efforts by the American Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the Association for Humanist Sociology, the Association of Asian American Studies, the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, and the African Literature Association, which have adopted resolutions supporting the right of students and scholars to mobilize around BDS and endorsing the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

The MEC’s support for BDS is in no way in response to any law, directive, program or mandate of any national government, including the provisional government of Palestine. The MEC recognizes and supports the call for BDS to continue until, as set forth in the Call,

“Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

  • Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
  • Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and;
  • Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”

For full list of signatories visit http://mecstatement.wordpress.com.  Additional signatures from scholars and the film/media community may be submitted to [email protected].

 

About Terri Ginsberg

Terri Ginsberg is a film scholar and Palestine solidarity activist. She is co-author of Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Cinema (2010), author of Holocaust Film: The Political Aesthetics of Ideology (2007), and co-editor of A Companion to German Cinema (2012).

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3 Responses

  1. just
    August 15, 2014, 10:03 am

    Really great message & action!

    Many thanks.

  2. Kay24
    August 15, 2014, 11:34 am

    Israeli Human animals used deadly weapons, and more artillery shells, in fact four times MORE than Cast lead. They are a disgustingly brutal nation. I realize now why the rest of the world dislikes them so much. They are deliberately killing Palestinians, and pretending it was all an accident, or blaming Hamas for these deaths.
    Is the world going to keep ignoring these arrogant war criminals, and is the US still pretending these scum bags are “defending” themselves.

    Someone should show Congress this article in it’s entirety.
    “Massive artillery shelling may have caused numerous civilian fatalities in Gaza
    It is thought that at least 32,000 artillery shells were fired during Protective Edge, four times as much as in Cast Lead in 2008.

    In the massive artillery bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Operation Protective Edge, the Israel Defense Forces fired 30,000 shells, many of them into densely populated areas. That, according to figures issued by the army on July 29, after three weeks of fighting.”
    Haaretz

    As usual the US media is quiet about these atrocities by Israel.

  3. Walid
    August 15, 2014, 3:55 pm

    “As usual the US media is quiet about these atrocities by Israel.”

    Can you have anything more atrocious than Israeli drone manufacturer marketing its killer drones as being “field tested”. This same atrocious company has been awarded a contract by the US of several hundred million dollars to build a separation wall to keep Mexicans out. No doubt after having also experience with the separation wall on the WB. Story about this company in Australia and what BDS activists did to it, from Hatham Sabbah with photos and video: link to sabbah.biz

    “… Australia: Pro-Palestinian protesters raids Israeli drone factory

    August 15, 2014 by Haitham Sabbah

    Protesters occupy the roof of a Port Melbourne factory belonging to Elbit Systems, which is a subsidiary of an Israeli company that manufactures air and land drones.

    The protesters occupied the roof of the Port Melbourne building before being removed about 10am. Three men and three women from the Melbourne Palestine Action Group occupied the roof of Elbit Systems of Australia for five hours before being removed by police about 10am.

    Police arrested the six people and expect to charge them on summons with trespass.

    The protesters group stormed the factory to protest against the Australian government’s support for Israeli’s war in Gaza. They raided the manufacturing compound which, they said, supplies arms and drones for Israel.

    Named the Melbourne Palestine Action Coalition (MPAC), it consists of activists from Whistleblowers Australian Citizens Alliance (WACA) and renegade activists.

    The activists blasted Elbit Systems as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of unmanned aerial drones used by the “Israel Defense Forces” (IDF) in their ongoing offensive in Gaza.

    Elbit is Israel’s largest military company which sells its drones around the world as ‘field tested’.

    Drones are used to kill innocent civilians in Gaza.

    With front gate locked up, the activists scaled the wall of the company, then dropped a nine meter banner, reading ‘Elbit Drones Kill Kids In Gaza #BDS‘…”

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