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Junot Díaz comes out in support of the academic and cultural boycott of Israel

on 13 Comments
(Image: Mondoweiss)

(Image: Mondoweiss)

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.


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13 Responses

  1. American
    October 21, 2014, 7:03 pm

    Here’s another victory….
    The I-bully boys lose again.

    ”L.A. Hotel to Host Anti-Israel Confab
    Westin Bonaventure and owner stand by ASA”

    They were threatening to sue Westin for allowing ASA to use their hotel for a conference claiming it was anti semitic.

    Westin answered them with the equivalent of a corporate get f’ed brush off:

    “The Westin Bonaventure does not discriminate and is committed to meeting the requirements of the Civil Rights Act at all times,” a spokesman for the hotel’s parent company told the Washington Free Beacon in a statement over the weekend.

    “The hotel respects the privacy of our groups and guests, and we do not choose, nor refuse, to do business based upon ideologies or affiliations,” the statement said. “We are in the business of hospitality, and if rooms are available, anyone may reserve accommodations and receive the benefit of our services.”

  2. Horizontal
    October 21, 2014, 7:27 pm

    This is all great news.

    The arc of history continues to bend. I think the words “cruel blight” to describe the occupation are perfect.

  3. Pixel
    October 22, 2014, 4:59 am


  4. MH
    October 22, 2014, 3:29 pm

    Not impressed.

    The boycott that wants to carry “just-mindedness” into the Israeli camp continues to ignore the United States camp. Why is sauce for the goose not sauce for the gander?

    To be consistent with itself, the boycott movement needs to call out the silent partner in the equation. Mr. Diaz, you have a lot more you could bring to the table than your invincible hope. By which I mean, your livelihood.

    The radical action would be for American scholars and artists to turn the boycott on themselves—to call on the rest of the world to forgo exchange with the United States—to practice the solidarity of actual sacrifice.

    I’m no such heroine, but neither do I engage in high-flown self-congratulation.

    • pabelmont
      October 23, 2014, 10:01 am

      On the theory that no nation is “too big to fail” or “too bad to fail”, yes, those calling for boycott against the universities of seriously bad countries (such as Israel) should call for boycott of USA’s universities, most of which support USA’s imperialism and militarism one way or another (if only by allowing military recruiting on campus — as required by law).

      ASA does not, I imagine, call for a boycott of all Israeli institutions but merely for a boycott of Israeli universities (on the fairly correct assumption that they are all complicit in the occupation and the imperialistic IDF actions). This would seem to mean that ASA would oppose its members going to attend a conference at (or perhaps only if sponsored by) an Israeli university but would not oppose an Israeli scholar coming to an American conference unless that Israeli scholar were somehow too closely connected with an Israeli university.

      Some oddities here. Imagine an Israeli scholar who, at his university has no representative capacity for the university, but who has contracts with the IDF. Would ASA policy welcome such a scholar?

  5. seafoid
    October 22, 2014, 3:55 pm

    I expect Hoph along any minute now to say he’s never heard of public enemy and that anyway Barry Manilow is where it is at and that Phil is out of touch with edgy jewish culture.

  6. seafoid
    October 22, 2014, 3:57 pm

    Palestine will be free but so too will Israel. Zionism is a miserable cage.

  7. annie
    October 24, 2014, 2:02 am

    i just have to ask, could Junot Díaz even be anymore handsome? it’s hard to concentrate stop looking.

    sorry. just a girl at heart.

    • oldgeezer
      October 24, 2014, 2:11 am

      Personally speaking I think he’d look a lot better if he looked like you.

      Sorry. Just a guy at heart ;)

      • annie
        October 24, 2014, 3:21 am

        triple blush. i probably shouldn’t have open that door. and thank you.;)

  8. irishmoses
    October 24, 2014, 11:15 am

    Junot Diaz is a wonderful writer. He often writes in the second person narrative which is a very unusual and interesting authorial point of view. Several of his short stories (e.g. Miss Lora are available in The New Yorker archives.

  9. michelle
    October 24, 2014, 5:00 pm

    this is where the numbers truly count
    equal justice for every & all
    G-d Bless

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