One month ago Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz made headlines when he called on the Brooklyn Book Festival to reject sponsorship from Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Two weeks later he expanded on this during a lecture at Clark University where he commented on the pressure scholars feel who speak out for Palestine, and shared how his personal history brings him to support the Palestinian people. Now Díaz has come out in support of the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
The U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel sent out the following press release today saying that Díaz joins Chuck D and Boots Riley as prominent artists who have recently endorsed the boycott:
Leading U.S. intellectuals, writers, and hip hop artists have recently added their voices in support of the Palestinian civil society call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel in protest of Israel’s systematic abuses of Palestinian human rights and violations of international law.
This week, New York Times best-selling author Junot Díaz, who received a Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and won the prestigious MacArthur “Genius Grant,” endorsed the United States Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).
In a statement to USACBI, Díaz said, “If there exists a moral arc to the universe, then Palestine will eventually be free. But that promised day will never arrive unless we, the justice-minded peoples of our world, fight to end the cruel blight of the Israeli occupation. Our political, religious and economic leaders have always been awesome at leading our world into conflict, only we the people alone with little else but our courage and our solidarities and our invincible hope can lead our world into peace.” Díaz now becomes one of the most visible and decorated American writers to support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
Hip hop superstar Chuck D, of the groundbreaking group Public Enemy, also recently signaled his endorsement of USACBI. In July, he joined a number of prominent global activists, including Angela Davis and Roger Waters, appearing in a video titled “Standing Up for Palestinian Rights.” Additionally, another star from the orbit of politically progressive African American music, Boots Riley, has endorsed the academic and cultural boycott call. Riley’s band The Coup is known for lyrics linking the oppression of African Americans and Palestinians, as in the song “The Shipment.”
The endorsements of the academic and cultural boycott call by prominent African American artists and activists comes at an important moment of Black/Palestinian solidarity in the U.S. Last weekend in Ferguson, Palestinians and allies marched alongside thousands of activists from across the country, including radical theologian and activist Cornel West, to protest the killing of Mike Brown and stand against police brutality.
These recent endorsements help bring the number of cultural workers who have signed the petition for cultural boycott of Israel to more than 370. The petition is sponsored by USACBI and can be accessed here. In addition, more than 1,200 academics have signed the USACBI call to boycott Israeli universities. Half a dozen academic professional organizations in the past year, including the Association of Asian American Studies, American Studies Association, and Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, have also formally endorsed the academic boycott.