Academics in support of the right to call for a boycott of Israeli goods in France

Petition in support of the right to call for a boycott of Israeli goods in France

The criminal division of the Court of Cassation, France’s highest appeals court, issued a decision last October, affirming that the call to boycott Israeli goods is a misdemeanor in France and punishable as such. A small group of activists of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, who in 2010 had chanted slogans, handed out leaflets, and worn T-shirts at a supermarket near Mulhouse, calling for a boycott of Israeli goods, had been brought to trial for “provoking discrimination” against the producers and suppliers of goods (considered as a “group of people”) by reason of their belonging to the Israeli nation. The activists were cleared at the first trial, but in November 2013, they were found guilty upon appeal by the Colmar Appeals Court, and were sentenced to pay 12000 euros in damages to the plaintiffs, as well as stiff legal fees. In rejecting their appeal of this sentence, the Court of Cassation affirmed that in calling upon consumers not to buy Israeli goods, the activists were indeed guilty of a misdemeanor — a call to national discrimination — and that the Colmar Appeals Court sentence was thus legally justified.

By the decision of October 20, 2015, France becomes the only country in the world — alongside Israel — to penalize civic appeals not to buy Israeli goods. In all the major democratic countries, the Israeli government’s repeated demands to penalize boycott calls have been rejected, in the name of freedom of expression, of the need for a democratic debate (which may include controversial aspects) on international questions, and of respect for political associations. Whether one is for or against BDS as a way of bringing about a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on international law, no one outside France denies the peaceful character of the movement and its right to act and to develop, notably by boycott calls, including the call to boycott Israeli goods.

In this spirit, a group of French intellectuals and activists has recently announced their intention to defy the Court of Cassation, and the policy of the past two French governments, by calling explicitly for a boycott of Israeli goods. In doing so they know they risk prosecution for an act that elsewhere is considered protected freedom of speech. A translation of the new boycott statement is copied below. Whether or not you agree with the tactics of BDS, we ask you to support freedom of speech in France by signing our petition.

We, the undersigned academics, many of us with long connections to France, are shocked to learn that the French Court of Cassation issued a ruling last October that qualifies the call to boycott Israeli goods as a crime under French law. While we do not all necessarily agree with the call to boycott Israeli goods, we do recognize that the call to boycott a state or an institution for its unjust practices is universally considered a legitimate form of peaceful non-violent protest. It is unacceptable for France, a country that makes a point of claiming freedom of speech as one of its guiding principles, to criminalize a fundamental right of political expression. We call upon the French government to display consistency in its defense of freedom of speech and to cease its persecution of non-violent protestors.

If you are an active or retired academic you can sign this petition by filling in the form available at this address:

The list of first signatories is availble below under the English translation of the boycott declaration.

If you do not have an academic affiliation, you should sign the petition available at this address:

A French petition is available at this address :

English translation of the call “Nous appelons au boycott des produits israéliens !” published on Mediapart on January 19, 2016

Call to boycott Israeli goods

We will not comply with the decision of the Cour de Cassation of October 20, 2015!

On October 20, 2015, through two decisions, the Cour de Cassation [the highest appeals court in France] declared that the call to boycott Israeli products is illegal, and confirmed the severe sentence that had been imposed on several activists of the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement. To this end, the court made use of an article on the law of the press that refers to the misdemeanor of “provocation to discrimination, to hatred or to violence against an individual or a group of people by virtue of their origin or their belonging to a specific ethnic group, nation, race, or religion.”

This decision is not merely surprising; it is scandalous. The law in question was intended to protect an individual or a group of people who are victims of discrimination by virtue or their origin or their belonging or not belonging to an ethnic group, nation, race, or religion. It was by no means intended to protect the policies of a State against civic criticism, when that criticism takes the form of a boycott of goods. On many occasions, organizations around the world have called for a boycott of Burma, Russia, China, or Mexico, and this clause was never invoked.

Despite the insistence of the Ministry of Justice, most of the French jurisdictions that have been called upon to rule on this question in recent years have refused to consider the call to boycott Israeli goods to be a criminal offense.

With the decision of the Court of Cassation, France has become the only democracy in the world to impose such a prohibition. The situation is that much more paradoxical in a country that for a year has not stopped insisting on its devotion to freedom of expression, and it’s more than likely that the European Court of Human Rights will annul this judgment. Even the Court of Cassation has to take responsibility for its decisions and to respect universal principles, which notably include freedom of expression.

The BDS movement was created in the context of a failure of the international community, which was unable to put an end to settlements and to protect Palestinians from the daily abuses at the hands of the army and Israeli settlers. The boycott movement has been meeting with growing success around the world, as the only non-violent means to put pressure on Israel. It allows all those who wish to find a peaceful expression of their solidarity and to protest against Israel’s favored treatment on the part of the international community, in spite of its constant violations of international law. This is why we are calling to support and strengthen the BDS movement and to boycott Israeli goods.


Ahmed Abbes, Directeur de recherche au CNRS, Paris
Sihame Assbague, activist
Etienne Balibar, Professeur émérite, Université de Paris-Ouest Nanterre
Saïd Bouamama, sociologist
Rony Brauman, medical doctor, essayist
Sonia Dayan, Professeure émérite, l’Université Paris Diderot-Paris7
Christine Delphy, sociologist, cofounder of Nouvelles Questions Féministes
Alain Gresh, journalist
Nacira Guénif, sociologist, Université Paris 8
Christian Salmon, author
Azzedine Taïbi, Mayor of Stains
Marie-Christine Vergiat, member of European Parliament

The first signatories of the petition in support of the right to call for a boycott of Israeli goods in France:

  1. Robert Acar, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
  2. Paola Bacchetta, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, USA
  3. Cristina Bacchielga, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, United States
  4. Claude Baesens, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  5. Rob Ballantyne, Indigenous peoples of Canada, Saskatoon, Canada
  6. Angelo Baracca, Retired Professor University of Florence, Firenze, Italy
  7. Ronnie Barkan, Boycott from Within, Tel-Aviv, Palestine48 (aka Israel proper)
  8. Isaías Barreñada, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  9. Mary Beaman, Writer, London, U.K.
  10. Roberto Beneduce, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
  11. Ali Benlyazid, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  12. Karen Bett, Consultant psychiatrist, Glasgow, United Kingdom
  13. Francesca Biancani, University of Bologna , Bologna, Italy
  14. Susan Blackwell, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Hoorn, Netherlands
  15. Robert Boyce, London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom
  16. Haim Bresheeth, SOAS, London, UK
  17. Roel Burgler, Doctor, political and social sciences, amsterdam, Netherlands
  18. Christopher Burns-Cox, Medicine, Bristol University, Wotton-under-Edge, United Kingdom
  19. Ray Bush, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  20. Ana Cabal, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
  21. Julia María Carabaza, Universidad de Granada, Granada, España
  22. Renzo Carlini, Professeur en retraite, U niversity Naples, Napoli, Italie
  23. Leo Casey, Student of Tallaght IT Dublin, Prosperous, Ireland
  24. John Chalcraft, LSE, London, UK
  25. Rebecca Comay, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  26. David Comedi, Physics Professor and Principal Researcher, National University of Tucumán and National Research Council of Argentina, Tucumán, Argentina
  27. Jocelyne Couture, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada
  28. Mauro Cristaldi, Comitato “Scienziate/i contro la guerra”, Rome, Italy
  29. Paul Croce, Stetson University , Deland, USA
  30. Mike Cushman , LSE, London , Uk
  31. Adam Darwish, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK
  32. Marc David, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerpen, Belgium
  33. John Davies, University of Bolton, Liverpool, United Kingdom
  34. Chandler Davis, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  35. Mary Ellen Davis, Concordia University, School of Cinema, Montreal, Canada
  36. Colin Dayan, Vanderbilt, Nashville, USA
  37. Ludo De Brabander, Former lecturer at the Arteveldehogeschool for social work, spokesperson of one of the main flemish peace organisations Vrede vzw, journalist and publicist, Gent, Belgium
  38. Lieven De Cauter, Philosopher, Brussels, Belgium
  39. Herman De Ley, Ghent University, Nevele, Belgium
  40. Federico Della Valle, Università di Trieste, Trieste, Italy
  41. Jasper Delva, KULeuven, Leuven, Belgium
  42. Claude Desaulniers, Retired professor, University of Cape Breton, Université Laval & McGill University, Dartmouth, Canada
  43. Judith Deutsch, Independent Jewish Voices, Toronto, Canada
  44. James Deutsch, University of Toronto Medicine, Toronto, Canada
  45. James Dickins, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
  46. John Docker, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  47. Gordon Doctorow, Nova Southeastern University, Toronto, Canada
  48. Nada Elia, Northwest Language Academy, Clinton, USA
  49. Haya Essaqaf, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  50. Peter Fitting, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  51. Frank Fitzgerald, College of Saint Rose, Albany, New York, U.S.
  52. Jerise Fogel, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, USA
  53. Vincent Fontaine , Musician, Brussels , Belgium
  54. Jeff Forbes, Concordia University, Tigard, U.S.A
  55. Jeff Fort, University of California, Davis, Oakland, USA
  56. Hassan Fouda, University of California, Berkeley, United States
  57. Anna Fox, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom
  58. Cynthia Franklin, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, USA
  59. Candace Fujikane, University of Hawai_i, Kaneohe, United States
  60. Joseba Gabilondo , Michigan state university, Lansing, USA
  61. Maria Belen Gargiulo, Licenciada en Artes en Artes Visuales, Prof. Lenguaje Visual 7 – UNA-, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  62. Daniela Garofalo, University of Oklahoma, Norman, USA
  63. Sabrin Ghazal, Student , Delft, Netherlands
  64. Terri Ginsberg, The American University in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt
  65. Sherna Gluck, California State University, Long Beach, Topanga, United States
  66. Faekah Gohar, Medical doctor and researcher, Muenster, Germany
  67. Kevin Gould, Associate Professor, Concordia University Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, Montreal, Canada
  68. Tony Greenstein, UNISON, Brighton, United Kingdom
  69. Robert Groenhuijzen, Politica’s scientist, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  70. Jan-Erik Gustafsson, Associate prof, KTH Sweden, Stockholm, Sweden
  71. Noah Guynn, University of California, Davis, Davis, United States
  72. Jens Hanssen, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  73. Salah Hassan, Michigan State University, Lansing, USA
  74. Amir Hassanpour, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  75. Peter Hawxhurst, Retired Research Analysis Louisiana State University, & Principal Instructor Computer Science Masvingo Technical College, Zimbabwe, Houston, USA
  76. Shir Hever, Activist, Jerusalem, Israel
  77. Robert Holmes, Musician, Dublin, Ireland
  78. Tim Hourigan, Researcher, Limerick, Ireland
  79. Badr Ibrahim, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada
  80. Patrick Italiano, Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium
  81. Ferran Izquierdo, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  82. Donna M. Joss, Worcester University, USA, Bridgton, MA, USA
  83. Nadim Keith, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  84. Stefan Kesenne, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
  85. David Klein, Mathematics department, California State University, Northridge, Los Angeles, USA
  86. Mark Klijsen, University of live Tilburg, poppel, Belgium
  87. Dennis Kortheuer, California State University Long Beach, emeritus, Long Beach, United States
  88. Demir Köse, Teaching assistant, Ghent, Belgium
  89. David Laibman, Brooklyn College, CUNY (retired), Brooklyn, New York, United States
  90. Diane Lamoureux, Université Laval, Québec, Canada
  91. Zoe Lawlor, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
  92. Lucien Legrand, Retired sociologist researcher in the matters of national, european and world migrations, Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  93. Verena Lenna, IUAV + KU Leuven, Venezia, Italy
  94. Ronit Lentin, Retired associate profssor at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
  95. Les Levidow, Open University, London, UK
  96. David Lloyd, University of California, Riverside, Los Angeles, USA
  97. Madeline Lutjeharms, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (retired), Brussels, Belgium
  98. Rudi Lutz, Retired Senior Lecturer, Department of Informatics, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK
  99. Sunaina Maira, University of California, Davis, Oakland, United States
  100. Jacques Malchaire, Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium
  101. Charles Manekin, University of Maryland, College Park, United States
  102. Eddie McBride, Queens University, Derry, Ireland
  103. Conor McCarthy, Maynooth University, Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  104. William Messing, School of Mathematics, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA
  105. Jamal Mimouni, Mentouri University, Constantine, Algérie
  106. Susette Min, UC Davis, Davis, USA
  107. David Mond, University of Warwick, England, Coventry, United Kingdom
  108. Bill Mullen, Purdue University, West Lafayette, United States
  109. Maarten Muskens , Radboud University , Nijmegen , Netherlands
  110. Joanne Naiman, Professor Emerita, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada, Toronto, Canada
  111. Ofer Neiman , Student , Jerusalem , Israel
  112. Roisin Ní Ghallóglaigh , Student at University of Limerick , Limerick , Ireland
  113. Maurice O’Connell, Dublin Inst. Technology, Dublin, Ireland
  114. Maryvelma O’Neil, Webster University, Geneva, Bellevue, Switzerland
  115. Martin O’Quigley, IPSC, IMPACT, Dublin, Ireland
  116. Nouria Ouali, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium
  117. Paulina Palmer, Warwick University, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
  118. David Palumbo-Liu, Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor, Stanford, Palo Alto, US
  119. Mary Pampalk, WU Wien, Vienna, Austria
  120. David Pegg, University of York, UK, York, UK
  121. Ernesto Perez Hernandez, Studient, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
  122. Sylvia Posadas, Writer, Pomona, Australia
  123. Malcolm Povey, University of Leeds, Leeds, England
  124. Margaret Power, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, United States
  125. Nicola Pratt, University of Warwick , Coventry, UK
  126. Sean Purdy, Professor, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  127. Eliseo Rafachello , Universidad de Ciencias Sociales , Codegua , Chile
  128. Anita Rapone, Professor Emerita of History, SUNY Plattsburgh, Burlington, USA
  129. Timothy J Reiss, Professor Emeritus, New York University, El Cerrito, CA, United States
  130. Paola Rivetti, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland
  131. Bruce Robbins, Columbia University, New York, United States
  132. Frank Roels, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
  133. Neil Rogall, retired lecturer, City & Islington, London, UK
  134. Jonathan Rosenhead, London School of Economics, London, UK
  135. Andrew Ross, New York University, New York, USA
  136. Reuben Roth, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Canada
  137. Fadi Saba, Culture and Conflict Forum, San Jose, United States
  138. Claudia Saba, Student, Dublin, Ireland
  139. Ayda Sakbani, former academic director, geneva, switzerland
  140. Michael Sakbani, professor, webster univertsity, geneva, switzerland
  141. Myriam Salama-carr, University of manchester, Manchester, Uk
  142. Fuad Saleh, Georgetown University, Washington DC, United States
  143. Walter Schachermayer, University Vienna, Vienna , Austria
  144. Heike Schotten, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA, USA
  145. Richard Seaford, Professor, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  146. Fintan Sheerin, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  147. Sidney Shniad, Independent Jewish Voices Canada, Surrey, Canada
  148. Julia Simon, University of California, Davis, Davis, United States
  149. John Smith, Professor, University of East London, London, England
  150. Kobi Snitz, Weizmann institute, Tel Aviv, Israel
  151. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Columbia University, New York, USA
  152. Lina Suleiman, Teacher & Researcher /KTH , Stockholm, Sweden
  153. James Swarts, State University of New York at Geneseo, Geneseo, United States
  154. Carlos Taibo, Professor UAM, Madrid, Spain
  155. Rachel Thevenard, Student, Kitchener, Canada
  156. Houria Toulni, VUB, brussels, Belgium
  157. Norbert Van den bergh, Gent University, Gent, Belgium
  158. Patrick Van Gelder, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
  159. Freia Van Hee, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
  160. Guido Vanden Wyngaerd, KU Leuven, Brussels, Belgium
  161. Lode Vanoost, Journalist, Sint-Genesius-Rode, Belgium
  162. Yoana Vastrée, University of applied sciences, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  163. Agustin Velloso, UNED, Madrid, Spain
  164. Alberto Vettese, Universität Potsdam , Potsdam , Germany
  165. Carlos Villán Durán, Président, Société Espagnole pour le Droit international des droits humains, Oviedo, Espagne
  166. Robert Warrior, University of Illinois, USA, Champaign, Illinois, USA
  167. Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law, King’s College, London, United Kingdom
  168. Naomi Woodspring, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
  169. Karim Zahidi, Universiteit Antwerpen, Gent, Belgium
  170. Dubravka Zarkov, ISS/Erasmus University Rotterdam, the hague, The Netherlands