April 5, 2010
Dear Friends at UC Berkeley SJP,
Two weeks ago news of the vote to divest UC Berkeley from companies that provide military support for the Israeli occupation has reached us here in Israel. Like many who have been working hard to liberate Palestine and restore justice to Palestinians, we were very happy to hear of your decision.
We witness the extent to which Israeli society becomes increasingly radicalized and indifferent to the systematic brutality it employs against Palestinians. As it does, the prospects for an internal change in Israeli society are almost nil. The efforts of friends like you stand the best chance to exert the necessary pressure to secure the full rights of Palestinians.
There is enough evidence today which allows one to safely state that the only pressure Israelis are sensitive to these days is that put forth by BDS activities. Boycott, sanctions and divestment from Israel and from companies invested in Israel are perceived by Israelis as questioning the legitimacy of Israeli policies and Israeli society. This indeed seems to be a cost Israelis are not willing to pay.
For example, in October 2009, Aluf Benn, Haaretz correspondent testifies: “Only one thing does bother the Israelis, according to the polls: fear of a diplomatic embargo and an international boycott. The Goldstone Report and the International Court of Justice in The Hague are arousing concern and interest, far more than Obama's peace speeches. However, as long as relations with the rest of the world are satisfactory, Israelis see no reason to emerge from indifference and listen to the president of the United States.”
A month later, mainstream journalist, Sever Plocker, admits that “Israel’s image has hit a nadir; it is isolated, unwanted, and perceived as bad. The world is telling us that should we continue along the same contemptible path, we will lose our legitimacy.” (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3798761,00.html)
Along the same lines, Yoav Karny who writes in Globes estimates: “Israel will not continue to exist if the educated middle class of the West turns against it. The experience of South Africa has taught all the boycotters in the world that there isn’t a more effective tool to weaken a society's stamina than the withdrawal of foreign investments”. (http://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?QUID=1056,U1259349558910&did=1000517467). (For more information on the impact of BDS activities on Israel and Israelis, see http://boycottisrael.info/content/milestones-history-israeli-bds-movement-brief-chronology).
We believe that actions such as yours will make Israelis face the fact that the people of the world will not be silent when human rights are crushed. We therefore applaud your efforts and thank you for them. They are not only the best hope for Palestinians but also for Israelis.
Ofra Ben Artzi
Prof. Rachel Giora
Yoana Gonen (Coalition of Women for Peace)
Prof. Lev Luis Grinberg
Eilat Maoz (Coalition of Women for Peace)
Dr. Anat Matar
Inna Michaeli (Coalition of Women for Peace)
Dr. Dorothy Naor
Dr. David Nir
Dr. Kobi Snitz
Members and supporters of
BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within
Naomi Klein: Open Letter to Berkeley Students on Their Historic Israeli Divestment Bill
Desmond Tutu's Support Letter to UC Berkeley Divestment Drive
Jewish Voice for Peace congratulates the UC Berkeley Senate for their historic divestment vote