Public Statement About Israeli Apartheid Week: IAW Room Cancellation at York University
On Thursday the 3 of March 2011, less than one week before the beginning of the Seventh Annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), the administration of York University informed the IAW organizers of a change to a room booking which had been made over one month in advance. The message from the administration was clear- the room will be canceled unless the group pays “security fees” to hire police to be present during the event. This decision was based on A “security assessment” by York University. Despite repeated requests from the IAW organizers, the York administration refused to explain what the security considerations involved, and did not share any information as to what or who is the source of the security threat. Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA-York), the organizer of the event, refused to pay the “security fees” for the following reasons:
Accessibility: These fees will put a significant strain on the very limited budget of the student group.
Unreasonable demand: SAIA-York does not see any need for police presence. IAW activities took place on York campus for the past 3 years without incident, and there is no basis to believe that this year will be different. This is especially the case given that the three speakers at the event are two professors, one of whom teaches at York, and the third is a York student. Furthermore, it is unjust for SAIA-York to be asked to pay to protect itself from harassment done to its members and supporters by outside aggressors.
This last minute condition imposed by the York administration is consistent with the recent pattern where the Israel Lobby groups pressure educational institutions to raise the costs for holding Palestine advocacy events. Last month, Mohawk College presented a similar ultimatum for allowing a lecture by Dr. Norman Finklestein to proceed as planned on its campus. Unfortunately, by imposing the security fees and putting a price tag on freedom of speech and inquiry, York University has become the most recent institution to use this silencing tactic. This of course comes as no surprise. As demonstrated by a number of incidents in the past, documented by publications and reports, York University’s commitment to freedom of speech is almost always limited when it comes to Palestine.
SAIA-York calls on supporters of Israeli Apartheid Week and everyone who supports freedom of speech and inquiry to contact York President Mamdouh Shoukri. Help explain to York University Administrationthe importance of freedom of speech, and that freedom of speech should not be treated as a commodity granted or denied based on the ability to pay. Please, make your voice and ours heard by following the steps below:
1. Copy/paste the sample letter (feel free to modify).
2. For the subject line, write: York shamefully puts a price tag on free expression.
3. Copy/paste the emails: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. Please CC: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Hit send!
Effectively canceling a planned speaking tour, the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem has inexplicably delayed the granting of a visa for Omar Barghouti, founding member of the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) campaign, due to tour the United States this April for the release of his new book, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights. Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu called the book “lucid and morally compelling… perfectly timed to make a major contribution to this urgently needed global campaign for justice, freedom and peace.” Former President of the UN General Assembly, Father Miguel d’’Escoto Brockmann called it “timely and responsibly written by a man who understands that creative nonviolence is the only way out of the dire situation in Palestine.”
In recent years, numerous foreign scholars and experts have been subject to visa delays and denials that have prohibited them from speaking and teaching in the U.S.—a process the American Civil Liberties Union describes as “Ideological Exclusion,” which they say violates Americans’ First Amendment right to hear constitutionally protected speech by denying foreign scholars, artists, politicians and others entry to the United States. Foreign nationals who have recently been denied visas include Fulbright scholar Marixa Lasso; Iraqi doctor Riyadh Lafta, who disputed the official Iraqi civilian death numbers in the respected British medical journal The Lancet; respected South African scholar and vocal Iraq War critic Dr. Adam Habib, and Oxford’s Tariq Ramadan, who have both recently received visas to speak in the United States after many years of delays and denials.
For the release of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions, Barghouti has standing invitations for events in New York City, Harvard, Yale, Brown, Brandeis University, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. Barghouti studied, lived and worked in the United States for 11 years before permanently relocating to Jerusalem. He attended Columbia University, receiving both Bachelors and Masters degrees from the school. His U.S. born child, whom he needs a visa to visit, currently attends college in Indiana. Between 2005-2010, Barghouti visited the U.S. extensively without incident, on a 5 year visa, which only recently expired.
1. Contact the US Consulate in Jerusalem and the Department of State
Barghouti’s publisher, Anthony Arnove of Haymarket Books, stated that “It’s essential authors be able to travel to promote their books and ideas, and as publishers we believe the free exchange of ideas is vital to a democratic culture. We find it frustrating that Omar’s visa is being delayed and potentially denied for political reasons and hope the Consulate will grant his visa immediately.”
Barghouti tour sponsors are calling on supporters to contact the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem and the Department of State to ask them to fulfill the promise from the Obama Administration of “promoting the global marketplace of ideas” and grant Barghouti’s visa immediately.
*Please feel free to copy Faculty for Palestine at email@example.com *
Consul General Daniel Rubinstein
U.S. Consulate General, Jerusalem
18 Agron Road, Jerusalem 94190
Tel.: +972.2.622.7230, Fax: +972.2.625.9270
Department of State:
Public Inquiries Division
2. Interview Omar Barghouti
To arrange, contact Sarah Macaraeg at firstname.lastname@example.org, 312-315-8476. Barghouti is the author of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights, releasing from Haymarket Books April 1, 2011.
3. Spread the news on Facebook
Join the group “Let Omar Barghouti Be Heard” and invite your friends.