(Sept 2014) To whom it may concern, and especially to The Michael Cacoyannis Foundation
We are a group of Israeli citizens who are working to end our government’s policies of colonialism, apartheid and occupation towards the Palestinian people. We have recently learned that cultural events – seminars, workshops and even a performance of a play based on the historical anti-war comedy of Lysistrata, will be held in Greece by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in collaboration with the (Greek) Michael Cacoyannis Foundation and with the support of the Embassy of Israel.
The Hebrew University, like other Israeli institutions which are complicit in the policies of their government, is the object of an international boycott campaign. As stated by Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of that movement: “They asked international civil society organizations and people of conscience to ‘impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.’”
Barghouti also quotes the US State Department, which finds “institutional, legal and societal discrimination” against Palestinian citizens of Israel. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations have all documented Israeli war crimes committed repeatedly in the Gaza Strip and in the occupied West Bank in recent years. The Israeli government’s response to this critique has been the same as responses issued by South Africa in the late 80’s. Both apartheid South Africa and the Israeli government have invested much money and effort in attempts to obscure their crimes by ‘rebranding’ themselves. Such an effort is greatly assisted by respected figures who would lend their prestige to Israeli institutions.
As for the Hebrew university itself, not only is it (partially) built on confiscated Palestinian land, as some of its student dormitories are in an Illegal Israeli settlement, the university also practices racial profiling as many other Israeli institutions. Recently, on July 24, the President of the Hebrew University issued a message of support for the Israeli Operation Defensive Edge in Gaza, which amounted to a massacre, and for the university students and staff who participated in the operation. Furthermore, during the Israeli massacre in Gaza, the university collected clothes and food and other goods and sent them to the soldiers, as a token of appreciation and support.
The Hebrew university has been complicit in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine for a long time. After the Nakba of 1948, the university received tens of thousands of stolen Palestinian books to enrich its library. These books were later stored in the Israeli National Library, also run by the university. The Palestinian people have been denied access to this cultural treasure trove, one of the foundations of Palestinian identity. This act amounts to what is known as ‘culturcide’ – the attempt to deny a people’s collective existence through the erasure of their cultural legacy.
In view of the aforementioned facts, we are calling for the cancellation of the events organized in Greece by the Hebrew University!
We are also calling on people of conscience to boycott these events. In particular, we are calling for a boycott of the performance of Lysistrata, an anti-war play being used by the Israeli embassy and the Hebrew University to whitewash Israel’s war crimes.
We endorse the efforts by Greek activists and others to bring about justice for the Palestinian people. We will gladly address any question or comment.