Aamir Mufti Statement in Support of a Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

Aamir R. Mufti is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of Forget English! Orientalisms and World Literatures (Harvard, 2016).aamir_mufti

Sign the “Open Letter” calling on the MLA membership to endorse a resolution in support of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Only the signatures of (former or current) MLA members will be included.

I support the MLA resolution in favor of the academic boycott of Israeli institutions, and the BDS call more broadly, not because the boycott strategy is always and unequivocally the correct course of action, nor because it has no internal contradictions, but because it is the only course of action left to us. Every other course of action, including, above all, support for the diplomatic “peace” process, has met its end in the sharp rightwards, neo-fascistic turn in Israeli politics and society and the clearly visible reality that no numerically significant segment of the Israeli political system, including the Labor Party, has any intention of reaching any kind of compromise with the Palestinians, let alone agreeing to a resolution based on the principles of equality and dignity. (This has been made evident by Labor’s new plan, which envisions nothing beyond the optimal management of the occupied population.)

Every other course of action, including, above all, support for the diplomatic “peace” process, has met its end in the sharp rightwards, neo-fascistic turn in Israeli politics and society. . .

And it is equally clear that there is no external governmental power, including the supposed global hegemon, the US, that has the ability, let alone the desire, to force a change of direction in the region. The main argument between Netanyahu and Obama at the moment is about how many billions of dollars exactly in new military aid Israel deserves. The American taxpayers’ funding and abetting of the violent colonial settlement project continues unchecked and is likely to intensify in a future Clinton presidency. Israel, a regional superpower, is by far the largest recipient of American foreign aid, in a world wracked by crushing poverty, the effects of climate change, and the absence of effective public health facilities for the majority of humanity.

In this situation, the only political option we have as citizens and professionals in the Global North, a fragile option whose long-term viability is still far from established, is to support the call of our Palestinian colleagues living under the daily devastation of occupation. This action becomes ever more urgent as a well funded campaign gets underway to eliminate Palestinian advocacy on American campuses, in part by establishing the false and scurrilous equation of the criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Semitism, an effort marshaled by the former president of the University of California system.

I urge all colleagues to endorse this reasonable and well formulated resolution and make clear their refusal to remain silent in the face of escalating brutality directed at a desperate population of Palestinian civilians living under alien Israeli military occupation.

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