Boycott Israeli Cinema and TV Studies Conference at Tel Aviv University

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Boycott Israeli Cinema and TV Studies Conference at Tel Aviv University | 19 décembre 2013 |

Affirming a commitment to the pursuit of social justice and to the right of political dissent and intellectual freedom that has long been central to the humanities and to the politically-minded, intellectual tradition of cinema and media studies, We, the Undersigned: Call for International Academics to Show Conscientious Respect for the Academic Boycott of Israel by Declining to Submit Proposals to, or Participate in, the Academic Conference, “10th International Tel Aviv Colloquium on Cinema and Television Studies: Cinematic Traces of Things to Come,” Sponsored by Tel Aviv University.

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The Tel Aviv University Department of Film and Television has recently announced that it will host this international colloquium on June 8-10, 2014. Dr. Warren Buckland, Reader in Film Studies at Oxford Brookes University, is a scheduled keynote speaker. The deadline for proposals is January 1, 2014; acceptance notices will be delivered by February 15, 2014. This colloquium announcement invites potential participants to lend their international scholarly credentials to an Israeli academic institution, and in effect to cooperate with the academic normalization of Israel’s human and civil rights violations of its Palestinian citizens.

This boycott call follows on recent decisions by a growing number of international scholars and academic organizations and institutions to boycott Israeli institutions in protest of the US-supported Israeli occupation of Palestine, settlement expansion, the Israeli Wall, and other violations of international law.

– On December 4, 2013, the American Studies Association (ASA) National Council unanimously voted to endorse the academic boycott of Israel with a “Resolution on Academic Boycott of Israel,” citing that “there is no effective academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation, and Israeli institutions of higher learning are a party to Israeli state policies that violate human rights and negatively impact the working conditions of Palestinian scholars and students.” The vote was ratified shortly thereafter by a majority of the ASA general membership.

– Also in December 2013, two noted international oral historians cancelled their scheduled keynote addresses at the upcoming International Conference on Oral History at Hebrew University after a letter calling for the conference’s boycott was released containing over 400 signatures—one-third of whom are oral historians—from Palestine, Israel, South Africa and 27 other countries in Europe, West-East-South Asia and Oceania, and North and South America.

– Nearly 40 international film/media scholars, practitioners, and professionals as well as other noted intellectuals, artists, and activists signed a letter endorsing a boycott of an Assistant Professor position opening in Cinema/Visual Culture at Hebrew University.

– Other recent academic boycott decisions include one made by the Association of Asian American Studies (AAAS), which became the first academic organization to endorse the boycott after a general membership vote at its annual convention; and one made by the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA), which, “as the elected council of an international community of Indigenous and allied non-Indigenous scholars, students, and public intellectuals who have studied and resisted the colonization and domination of Indigenous lands via settler state structures throughout the world, strongly protest[s] the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and the legal structures of the Israeli state that systematically discriminate against Palestinians and other Indigenous peoples.”

Tel Aviv University

Tel Aviv University is complicit in Israel’s unequal treatment of Palestinians (5% of its student population), the majority of whom are citizens of the Israeli state, and the suppression of political dissent; for instance:

– Tel Aviv University has chosen to remain silent while the entire population of Gaza has been excluded by the Israeli government from the possibility of enrolling and studying at the university. Palestinian students from Gaza have a better chance of acceptance at a university in the United States than at Tel Aviv University.[1]

– The Tel Aviv University administration restricts the freedom of speech and protest of Palestinian students by honoring the “Nakba Bill,”[2] discriminatory legislation meant to discourage academic discussion and public commemoration of a day of mourning, on the anniversary of the establishment of Israel, for the expulsion by Zionist and Israeli forces of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and land, and the massacre of thousands more, during 1947-49.

– Tel Aviv University requires potential enrollees to take psychometric exams, a combined aptitude and personality test that has been criticized as culturally biased. The university likewise administers English language proficiency entrance exams that are structurally biased as a result of Israel’s “separate-but-equal” primary and secondary education system, which prioritizes and promotes Jewish Israeli advancement while under-funding and thus under-developing Palestinian-majority schools.[3]

– Like all Israeli universities, Tel Aviv University also adheres to an Israeli law which stipulates that universities must give special treatment to student military reservists—in the form of financial assistance, age restrictions for entry into particular programs, and student housing allotments. This evidences both Tel Aviv University’s complicity in the occupation and its discriminatory practices against Palestinian students, who are not required to serve in the Israeli military. The university likewise discriminates against the small but significant number of Jewish conscientious objectors who refuse to serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).[4]

– Tel Aviv University is participating in a settler-run archaeological dig in the “City of David” national park located in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, in violation of international law.[5]

– Tel Aviv University, like most Israeli universities, is built on the land of a Palestinian Arab habitat, in this case, Shaykh Muwannis, a large village whose inhabitants were forcibly expelled by the IDF in early 1948. The story of the expulsion, destruction and erasure of this village is told by Professor Shlomo Sand of the Tel Aviv University Department of History.[6] Part of Sand’s description details the five decades of silence and denial by the University of the facts of this expulsion.

Learn More

Learn more about the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) at This campaign has developed strong followings in most European countries and is increasingly successful. Specific campaigns range from student union activism at university campuses in North America and Europe, to divestment efforts by teachers unions, to cultural boycott campaigns throughout the Arab world and in South Africa. More information about PACBI’s accomplishments is available from the British Committee for Universities in Palestine (BRICUP): Detailed answers to many more questions about the rationale, intent, and effectiveness of Academic and Cultural Boycott are available on the U.S. Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott (USACBI) website:


1 – Sign and Forward this Open Letter to show your support and solidarity. Film and media scholars are especially encouraged to sign, but all signatories are welcome. Add your signature by sending an e-mail with your name, affiliation (if desired), and location to

2- Send a “Decline To Submit” Cover Letter to Tel Aviv U, or if you have already submitted a proposal, Send TAU a “Withdrawal of Submission/Participation” Letter: Film and media scholars are especially encouraged to consider sending a message to the Department of Film and Television to let them know of your intent to decline to submit a proposal or to withdraw from the selection process. This action is not meant to punish the university staff or professors who may receive paper proposals. Rather, it aims to encourage Israeli academics and academic administrators to take seriously the call for Academic Boycott and to understand its content, purpose and strategies—perhaps even to support the boycott. Consider adding the following paragraph to your communique:

I hope(d) you might find my abstract of merit for the “Cinematic Traces of Things to Come Colloquium.” However, I must now inform you that I decline to submit to the colloquium. In fact, I am categorically opposed to submitting to, participating in, or attending any academic event at Tel Aviv University. I strongly oppose the Israeli occupation of historic Palestine and the human rights and international law violations it entails, including Tel Aviv University’s complicity in these violations. I urge you to start an open discussion of Academic and Cultural Boycott, as well as broader BDS, at Tel Aviv University in order to better understand why I am declining to submit to this colloquium and why I join the world-wide movement responding to this call from Palestinian civil society. The following links provide additional background on the intent and strategy of Academic and Cultural Boycott:;;

ENDORSEMENTS (in progress)

U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI)

British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)

Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP)

Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI)

SIGNATORIES (in progress)

1. Prof. Neepa Majumdar, English and Film Studies, University of Pittsburgh, USA

2. Pam Sporn, filmmaker, Grito Productions, New York City, USA

3. Dr. Terri Ginsberg, film and media scholar, New York City, USA

4. Tami Gold, filmmaker and professor, New York City, USA

5. Dr. Colleen Jankovic, film and gender studies scholar, California, USA

6. Barbara Hammer, independent filmmaker & faculty, European Graduate School, New York City, USA

7. John Greyson, filmmaker and Associate Professor, York University, Toronto, Canada

8. Miranda Pennell, filmmaker & Ph.D. candidate, University of Westminster, London, UK

9. Samirah Alkassim, filmmaker, Washington, DC, USA

10. Prof. Haim Bresheeth, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London; Director, Camera Obscura Films, UK

11. Prof. Robert Lang, Cinema, University of Hartford, CT, USA

12. Prof. Sean Cubitt, Film & TV, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

13. Tania Kamal-Eldin, independent filmmaker, Iowa, USA

14. Mary Ellen Davis, film production instructor and independent documentary director, Montréal, Québec, Canada

15. Linda Mokdad, Lecturer, Screen Arts & Cultures, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA

17. Dr. Dina Matar, Director, Centre for Media and Film Studies, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London, UK

18. Eyal Sivan, filmmaker, Honorary Fellow, European Center for Palestine Studies, University of Exeter, UK

19. Greg Burris, Doctoral candidate, Film and Media Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

20. Sarah Schulman, co-founder, MIX: NYC Queer Experimental Film Festival, USA

21. Sarah Farahat, intermedia artist, Portland, Oregon, USA

22. Rachel Webb Jekanowski, Ph.D. candidate, Film and Moving Image Studies, Concordia University, Montréal, Québec, Canada

23. Prof. Christopher E. Gittings, Chair, Film Studies, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada

24. Robert Haufrecht, actor, New York City, USA

25. Bud Korotzer, photographer, New York City, USA

26. Prof. Rand Carter, Art History, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY, USA

27. Prof. Mona Baker, Translation and Intercultural Studies, University of Manchester, UK

28. Prof. Emeritus Sam Noumoff, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada

29. John David Moore, M.S., Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA

30. Dr. Denis Rancourt, formerly Professor, University of Ottawa, Canada

31. Noa Shaindlinger, Ph.D. candidate, University of Toronto, Canada

32. Prof. Randa Farah, Anthropology, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada

33. Prof. Michael Harris, Université Paris-Diderot, Paris, France

34. Dr. Ahmed Abbes, Directeur de Recherche au CNRS, Bures-sur-Yvette, France

35. Uri Horesh, Lecturer in Arabic, Program in Middle East and North African Studies, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

36. Dr. Rosemary Sayigh, oral historian and anthropologist, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

37. Dr. Chris Burns-Cox, formerly Clinical Teacher, Bristol University, UK

38. Prof. Ann Kibbey, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA

39. Prof. Leo Parascondola, English, William Paterson University, New Jersey, USA

40. Dr. John Chalcraft, Associate Professor (Reader), Government, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

41. Prof. Emerita Sherna Berger Gluck, Women’s Studies and (Oral) History, California State University, Long Beach, USA

42. Prof. Emerita Marguerite G. Rosenthal, Social Work, Salem State University, MA, USA

43. Douglas Smith, Research, Translation and Interpretation, University of Ottawa, Canada

44. Prof. Cynthia Franklin, English, University of Hawai’i, Manoa, USA

45. Guliz Akkaymak, Ph.D. Candidate, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada

46. Prof. Emerita Abby Lippman, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada

47. Nadia Barhoum, Research Fellow, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, University of California, Berkeley, USA

48. George Beres, faculty (retired), University of Oregon, Eugene, USA

49. Prof. Joseph Levine, Leverett, MA, USA

50. Prof. Ammiel Alcalay, Queens College, The Graduate Center, CUNY, New York City, USA

51. Dr. Les Levidow, Senior Research Fellow, Development Policy and Practice, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

52. Prof. Haidar Eid, English, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza, Palestine

53. Prof. Andrew Ross, New York University, USA

54. Prof. Jean-Pierre Thys, Erasme University Hospital, Brussels, Belgium

55. Prof. David Heap, French & Linguistics, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada

56. Mike Cushman, Management, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

57. Jane Jewell, 14 Friends of Palestine, Marin, CA, USA

58. Greta Berlin, the Free Gaza Movement, Cyprus

59. Pat Hewett, Friends of Sabeel, Colorado, USA

60. Maria Rodriguez, Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), London, UK

61. Elizabeth Morley, AberPSC, Aberystwyth, Wales, UK

62. Michael Letwin, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return; Labor for Palestine, New York City, USA

63. Ned Rosch, Jewish Voice for Peace, Portland, Oregon, USA

64. Dr. Jack Dresser, Health Behavior Research Scientist, Member, International Society of Political Psychology; National vice-chair, Palestine and Middle East Working Group, Veterans for Peace; Co-director, Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Oregon, USA

65. Ayo Ayola-Amale, Esq., educator, lawyer, poet, peace worker

66. Thomas Beilman, retired Program Manager for a major US electronics company, Salem, Oregon, USA

67. Jane Hirschmann, New York City, USA

68. Allison Brown, Brooklyn, NY, USA

69. Francine Korotzer, New York City, USA

70. Lila Coddington, Middlebury, CT, USA

71. Paul O’Hanlon, Edinburgh, Scotland

72. Mark Berman, USA

73. John R. Porter, Glasgow, Scotland


[1] Yara Sa’di, “Israel’s repression of Palestinian students reaches new high during Gaza attacks,” The Electronic Intifada 28 November 2012:; Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel, “Gaza students to Margaret Atwood: reject Tel Aviv U. prize,” The Electronic Intifada 6 April 2010:; “Story of student from Gaza,” Right to Education Campaign, 26 March 2007:

[2] Patrick O. Strickland, “Despite threats, students to commemorate Nakba at Tel Aviv University,” The Electronic Intifada 10 May 2013:

[3] “Psychometric Exam: Barrier to University Entrance for Arab Citizens of Israel,” Dirasat: Arab Center for Law and Policy, 17 May 2010:; Jonathan Cook, “No Room for Arab Students at Israeli Universities,” The Palestine Chronicle 18 August 2010:; Aviva Lori, “A Psychometric Exam Geared to Jews,” Ha’aretz 11 October 2007:; see also “Second Class: Discrimination against Palestinian Arab Children in Israel’s Schools,” Human Rights Watch, September 2001: .

[4] “New Initiatives at Tel Aviv University, 2013,” Tel Aviv University,; Yael Livnat, “Education scholarships awarded to outstanding IDF reservists,” Israel Defense Forces, 27 March 2012:; Yaakov Katz, “Reservists’ benefits package approved,” The Jerusalem Post 30 Dec. 2007,; Anshel Pfeffer, “New ‘bill of rights’ for student reservists,” Ha’aretz 24 Dec. 2003:

[5] Ben White, “Tel Aviv University’s role in settler-run archaeological dig ‘playing into hands of BDS,’ Israeli academics complain,” The Electronic Intifada 27 Dec 2012:

[6] Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland, trans. Geremy Forman (London: Verso, 2012).