Two weeks back we ran a piece on the criminalization of BDS activism in France, translated from Le Monde. Below is a translation of a follow-up piece that ran two days ago in France on AURDIP, Association of Academics for the Respect for International Law in Palestine. –Ed.
From Génération Palestine Lyon, The association of young people for Palestine:
After the administration of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Lyon banned our Israeli Apartheid Week lecture, we held it outside on the banks of the Rhône, under a pale ray of sunlight on the cool evening of Tuesday March 25.
We wish to express our warm gratitude to Ivar Ekeland of AURDIP, who came all the way from Paris to speak to us, and to the 50 or so people who went to the trouble of coming outside to attend the lecture, as well as to everyone who supported us in this ordeal (students, professors, the MEG and FSE unions, etc.). [MEG is Mouvement des Etudiants de Gauche (Movement of Left Students) and FSE is Fédération Syndicale Etudiante (Student Union Federation).]
As we wrote in our last week’s communiqué, it’s not the censorship that worries us so much as the impossibility of opening a critical debate about Israel in French universities. We will continue to struggle in order to make this debate take place.
Below we have copied a message of support from Philippe Corcuff, sociologist and Lecturer at the IEP of Lyon.
Génération Palestine Lyon.
Philippe Corcuff’s message on the necessary respect for freedom of expression at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques.
I am delighted that Ivar Ekeland’s lecture could be held yesterday, March 25. Professor Ekeland, former president of the Université Paris-Dauphine, and president of the Association of Academics for the Respect for International Law in Palestine (AURDIP), spoke on “Relations between French and Israeli universities: what is at stake, and what are the prospects?” at the invitation of Génération Palestine Lyon and the MEG. It is unfortunate that this lecture had to be held outdoors, on the banks of the Rhone, and not at the Institute of Political Studies of Lyon, as the organizers had requested.
The international BDS campaign against the colonial policy of Israel, a pacifist movement of civic solidarity with the Palestinian cause, is fully entitled to express itself in public spaces and in universities in France. I personally support the BDS campaign overall. On the other hand, I am not personally in favor of a systematic boycott of cultural and academic relations with the state of Israel, but rather one that treats cases individually. Why? Because I believe that the legitimate and necessary boycott of Israeli products and of economic relations with the state of Israel should also take care to develop links with anticolonial and pacifist sectors of Israeli society, and to be attentive to the critical contradictions at the heart of this society, as they may specifically develop at the university (notably in the humanities and social sciences) and in artistic creation. In any event, it should be possible to talk about differences of opinions within the framework of the BDS campaign in public meetings, like the one that was held yesterday.
I hope that, in the future, the IEP of Lyon will be able to guarantee freedom of expression to the forces of peaceful solidarity with the Palestinian cause. I understand that the IEP administration has to be concerned for the safety of students and personnel, threatened by possible intruders from violent groups that are hostile to the Palestinian cause. But these safety considerations should not take precedence over freedom of expression. In the future, the IEP administration should work in concert with student organizations and unions so that such meetings can safely take place on campus. The conference censored by Lyon’s Institute of Political Studies was held in the street!