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Support for BDS National Conference at the University of Pennsylvania

Due to scheduling conflicts I was unable to accept an invitation to speak at the 2012 National BDS Conference that has been organized by Penn BDS, a recognized student organization at the University of Pennsylvania, which happens to be my undergraduate college. I did agree to submit the statement to the conference that I post below in hopes of reaching more people who seek peace and justice in the Middle East, and an end to the long ordeal endured by the Palestinian people. BDS is a worthy cause that deserves the widest possible support from all those of good will with a concern about both the Israel/Palestine conflict and the unacceptable role being played by the United States Government in relation to the struggle and the region.

Solidarity Statement of Richard Falk supporting BDS National Conference at the University of Pennsylvania, February 4, 2012


It is a cause of deep regret that I am not able to participate in this groundbreaking conference. I commend the conveners for taking this initiative in the face of efforts to intimidate and confuse by those who systematically oppose debate and free inquiry concerning the various dimensions of the Israel/Palestine conflict and its bearing on American foreign policy.

I have long supported the BDS as a constructive and creative movement that  raises awareness and mobilizes support for the Palestinian struggle to achieve a sustainable peace based on international law and a sense of justice. The BDS movement was originated by grassroots Palestinian activism, enjoys wide and growing support among Palestinians, and is a shining symbol of the seismic shift in Palestinian tactics of struggle and resistance from violent tactics to nonviolent militancy, and from the territorial confines of occupied Palestine to the world as a whole.

Such a shift is both principled and pragmatic, and deserves our encouragement and engagement in tangible ways. The targeting of companies and institutions that profit from Israel’s unlawful policies and practices is a creative and appropriate way for people from around the world to express solidarity with the Palestinian search for peace with justice. To seek sanctions is a means of exerting diplomatic and material pressure on Israel is light of its defiant refusal to accord the Palestinian people their rights under international law.

The BDS movement is certainly inspired by the anti-apartheid global campaign waged so effectively against the racist regime in South Africa, but it also has its own originality. It is notable that Israel’s style of governance and occupation is increasingly perceived as a form of apartheid, which has been recognized in the Statute of the International Criminal Court as a Crime Against Humanity.

I wish this conference the greatest possible success in spreading the word about the importance and relevance of the BDS campaign. It offers all Americans an excellent opportunity to become engaged and responsible citizens of conscience and offset the wildly partisan and unjust policies of the U.S. Government toward the conflict and its proper resolution. 

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