Statement of Boycott of Academic Workshop at Hebrew University

Fifty-five scholars and intellectuals, most of whom do work related to South Asia, and four important academic and cultural associations, are among many hundreds of academics from different fields who urge scholars to boycott any official event hosted by Israeli universities, institutions that are complicit with occupation and apartheid. In particular, the signatories of the letter, below, ask that scholars do not attend the workshop on South Asia in World War II to be held this summer at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Among the list of scholars and intellectuals are Aijaz Ahmad, Partha Chatterjee, Githa Hariharan, Jasbir Puar, Nivedita Menon, Tithi Bhattacharya, Junaid Rana, and Najaf Haider. Our pledge is not to cross the international picket line until “the occupation of Palestine and blockade of Gaza ends, racial inequality inflicted on Palestinians in Israel is terminated, and the Apartheid Wall is dismantled.”

Over the past month, Israeli military forces entered Palestinian universities, fired live ammunition, and tear gassed and injured students. At Palestine Technical University- Kadoorie University in Tulkarem in the West Bank, the Israeli military invaded the campus and injured nine Palestinian students. Israeli soldiers also entered Birzeit University on January 11 and closed the gates of this important center of Palestinian higher education. The soldiers went door to door in the dormitories, harassing the students before abducting Aseed al-Banna, a Student Senate member. The Syndicate of the Palestinian Universities Union has denounced these ongoing incursions and assaults on the right to education. Such is the context for Palestinian students and scholars, trying their best to work under Israeli occupation and under fire.

Furthermore, in fall 2015, many students and youth were killed, arrested, kidnapped, placed in administrative (indefinite) detention, and tortured by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, and inside Israel were subjected to a brutal assault by Israel entailing extrajudicial assassinations by soldiers, lynchings by settlers, arson attacks that killed toddlers and families, and daily racist harassment. These are just the latest incidents of violence enacted by the Israeli state that wages wars without impunity and continues to encage and besiege Palestinians.

In the midst of all this, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem is hosting a seminar on “The Indian Predicament: South Asia in WWII” in June 2016. [This workshop is sponsored by the European Research Council under the EU-Israel Assocation Agreement, despite Israel’s ongoing and egregious violations of human rights and international law, and has been [publicly opposed by hundreds of European academics]].

We call on all historians of South Asia to boycott this workshop and all such academic interactions with Israeli universities that are complicit with occupation, warfare, and apartheid.

To attend the workshop at Hebrew University would be to cross the global picket line and violate the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions from Palestine ( The academic boycott is a powerful tool for scholars to express our principled opposition to occupation, apartheid, and colonization. While all Israeli universities are deeply complicit with the state’s colonial and racist policies, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is particularly noteworthy because:

  • Its Mount Scopus campus is built on Palestinian land illegally confiscated by Israel in 1968. Israel’s unilateral annexation of occupied East Jerusalem and the application of Israeli domestic law to it, are violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and have been repeatedly denounced by the UN Security Council.
  • It maintains close ties to the Israeli military industry, which is accused of war crimes against Palestinian civilians; provides special privileges to Israeli soldiers and security personnel; and collaborates with the Israeli army in training officers and recruits.
  • It discriminates against Palestinians, including those who are citizens of Israel by in several areas, including not providing teaching services to the residents of Jerusalem in contrast to those provided to Jewish groups; and not offering any courses in Arabic.
  • It denies freedom of speech and protest to its few Palestinian students.

Furthermore, the academic boycott is an act of solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues who are denied academic freedom–it is a denunciation of their condition of un-freedom. Israel systematically denies Palestinian academics and students the right to education and the freedom of movement, for they are not able to freely travel for study, conferences, and research, within Palestine and across borders. Palestinian universities have been bombed; schools have been closed; scholars and students have been deported, arrested, and in some cases, killed. Israel also regularly prevents international scholars and students from doing research or studying in Palestine and regulates who can enter its borders to visit Palestinian academic institutions. Supporting the academic boycott is, thus, a call for academic freedom for all, and for an end to the encagement and the scholasticide to which our Palestinian colleagues are subjected across the partitioned Palestinian territories.

Finally, we note the irony in the workshop’s call for papers that mentions the decolonization of India at the end of WWII without acknowledging that India’s decolonization occurred as the settler colonial regime was established in Palestine in 1948, the year of the Nakba. There is certainly an interesting discussion to be had about “comprehension, memory, and judgment” of WWII and the role of nationalist struggle that would productively bring historians of South Asia to discuss these questions in Jerusalem.

But we cannot do so until the occupation of Palestine and blockade of Gaza ends, racial inequality inflicted on Palestinians in Israel is terminated, and the Apartheid Wall is dismantled.


1. Abdul Rahman Ansari, Assistant Professor, Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi
2. Achin Vanaik, Retd. Professor of International Relations and Global Politics, University of Delhi.
3. Aditya Nigam, Professor, CSDS, Delhi
4. Aijaz Ahmad, Professor, Comparative Literature & Critical Theory, University of California, Irvine.
5. Amar Farooqui, Department of History, University of Delhi.
6. Anandhi S., Madras Institute of Development Studies.
7. Anjali Arondekar, Feminist Studies, University of California-Santa Cruz
8. Anupama Rao, Department of History, Barnard College.
9. Aradhana Sharma, Chair and Associate Professor, Anthropology, Wesleyan University
10. Awanish Kumar, Assistant Professor, Department of Public Policy, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.
11. Ayushya Kaul, Research Scholar, Delhi.
12. Barnita Bagchi, Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University.
13. Biswamoy Pati, Department of History, University of Delhi.
14. Carolyn L. Karcher, Professor Emerita, Temple University
15. Chandni Desai, University of Toronto, Canada
16. Chirashree Das Gupta, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
17. Dibyendu Chaudhuri, Pradan.
18. Elisabeth Armstrong, Smith College.
19. Elora Halim Chowdhury, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts-Boston
20. Githa Hariharan, writer, India.
21. Harry C. Meserv, Emeritus Associate Librarian, San Jose State University
22. Jasbir Puar, Rutgers University
23. Junaid Rana, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
24. Jyotsna Singh, journalist, India.
25. Kasturi Ray, Assoc. Professor, Women and Gender Studies; Co-Director South Asian Studies Program, San Francisco State University
26. Kavita Saraswathi Datla, Department of History, Mount Holyoke College.
27. Manu Goswami, Department of History, New York University.
28. Modhumita Roy, Department of English, Tufts University.
29. Najaf Haider, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
30. Nivedita Menon, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India
31. Nosheen Ali, Habib University, Karachi, Pakistan
32. Parama Roy, English, University of California-Davis
33. Partha Chatterjee, Columbia University.
34. Piya Chatterjee, Scripps College
35. Pranav Jani, Associate Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
36. Rahul Vaidya, New Delhi.
37. Rajini Srikanth, University of Massachusetts-Boston
38. Ranabir Samaddar, Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group, India.
39. Saadia Toor, Associate Professor, Sociology, College of Staten Island; Women’s Studies Certificate Program, CUNY Graduate Center
40. Saibal Bishnu, Kolkata, India.
41. Satadru Sen, Historian.
42. Saumyajit Bhattacharya, Department of Economics, Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi.
43. Sayandeb Chowdhury, School of Liberal Studies, Ambedkar University, Delhi.
44. Seema Mustafa, journalist, India.
45. Selvyn Jussy, Department of Linguistics, University of Calcutta.
46. Shefali Chandra, Associate Professor, South Asian History, Washington University-St. Louis
47. Sherna Berger Gluck, Emerita, California State University-Long Beach
48. Snehal Shingavi, Associate Professor, English, University of Texas, Austin
49. Suchetana Chattopadhyay, Department of History, Jadavpur University.
50. Sujani Reddy, Associate Professor, American Studies, SUNY-Old Westbury
51. Sukumar Murlidharan, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla.
52. Sunaina Maira, Professor, Asian American Studies, University of California, Davis.
53. Surajit Mazumdar, Jawharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
54. Tithi Bhattacharya, Professor of History, Purdue University.
55. Vijay Prashad, Professor of International Studies, Trinity College.
56. Maia Ramnath, Professor of History and Asian Studies, Pennsylvania State University.

Endorsed by the following Academic and Cultural Boycott Campaigns :

  • Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (The Association of Academics for the Respect of International Law in Palestine-France)
  • British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)
  • InCACBI (Indian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel).
  • USACBI (The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel)