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NCOBPS Boycott Announcement
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7/13/2016 to 12/31/2016
When: Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Contact: Todd Shaw

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National Conference of Black Political Scientists, Inc.

July 2016

The National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS) stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people’s struggle for human rights and self-determination, as they contest the inhumane and brutal treatment the state of Israel has inflicted upon them in the West Bank, occupied territories, and within Israel.  At NCOBPS’ annual meeting in March 2016 (Jackson, Mississippi), the membership approved by a majority vote the attached resolution and rationale.  It joins a number of other American academic institutions and professional societies in calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, because of the extent to which the aforementioned actions violate international norms of human rights.

The purpose of this resolution is not to boycott the Israeli people. Its purpose is not to boycott peaceful efforts by the government of Israel to negotiate a lasting settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which preserves the sovereignty and integrity of both states.  The resolution, however, raises concerns that, as many world leaders, human rights advocates, scholars, and other public figures have previously asserted, this treatment is analogous to the Apartheid system of South Africa. 

True to the history and mission of NCOBPS, we stand for the cause of human rights against racial, ethnic, religious, gender, economic and all other forms of human oppression, wherever they exist.  The support of this resolution follows in a similar vein, and this is the reason why we have joined this boycott movement.  We know that we are joining a number of Israeli and American Jewish scholars and intellectuals, who also do not support the level of violence and inhumane treatment of Palestinian families and communities, despite the intense political and military conflict between the state of Israel and various Palestinian parties. 

We call upon media organizations to publicize this press release, as well as the attached resolution and rationale.


For further information contact:

Dr. Todd C. Shaw, President
National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS)
14000 HWY 82 West,
MVSU 5098
Itta Bena, MS 38941-1400

(601) 376-9392


Resolution on Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

Adopted by a majority vote of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS) General Body

 March 18, 2016
Hilton Garden Inn Downtown
Jackson, MS, USA

             Whereas the National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS) is committed to the pursuit of equality and freedom for all peoples, to the struggle against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, and xenophobia, discrimination, and to solidarity with oppressed peoples in the United States and in the World;

            Whereas the United States plays a significant role in enabling the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the expansion of illegal settlements and the apartheid, segregation wall in violation of international law, as well as in supporting the systematic discrimination against Palestinians, which has had a devastating impact on civil and human rights, the freedom of movement and the educational opportunities of Palestinians;

           Whereas there is no effective or substantive academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under the conditions of Israeli occupation, and Israeli institutions of higher learning are implicated in Israeli state policies that violate the human rights, and negatively impact the working conditions of Palestinian scholars;

            Whereas the apartheid like conditions of the occupation have been funded by robbing Black communities of desperately needed reparations, funding Israeli militarism to the tune of $150 billion of US expenditures over the recent decades which has hamstrung the Palestinian economy causing premature deaths and astronomical incarceration rates;

            Whereas there is a long tradition among African Americans of viewing the cause of the Palestinian people as part of the larger global narrative of de-colonialization;

            Whereas there is growing solidarity between Black Lives Matter and Palestinian activists because of the harassment, stop and frisk, killing and mass criminalization and incarceration of young peoples in Palestine and America both sides have a joint grievance, symbolized by the slogan “When I see them, I see us”;

            Whereas NCOBPS is aware of American and Israeli scholars and students who are critical of Israeli policies, and who support the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement;

            Whereas NCBOPS believes that, given the hegemonic military power of the Israeli state and the unwavering diplomatic, economic, and military support of the United States for its illegal occupation, oppression and repression, that the only way to require the Israeli government to comply with international law is through sanctions, disinvestment and boycotts by the international community; and, we are not unmindful that it was partly because of international sanctions that the hegemonic apartheid regime of the South Africa was brought into compliance with international law and conventions on human rights;

            It is, therefore resolved that the National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS) endorses and joins with the American Studies Association and other American scholarly associations in honoring the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic intuitions. Be it further resolved that NCBOPS supports the right of students and scholars to engage in research and public speaking about Israel-Palestine and in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

            Be it finally resolved that this resolution on adoption be distributed to the appropriate media outlets, the Palestinian Mission to the United Nations and the embassy of Israel in Washington, DC.


Submitted By:

Robert C. Smith, Professor Political Science

San Francisco State University

Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, Professor African American Studies
University of California, Irvine

February 4, 2016



Statement in Support of NCOBPS Resolution

Supporting Boycott of Israeli

Academic Institutions

by Dr. Robert Smith

 For an organization founded nearly a half century ago on the proposition of fighting for the liberation of black people, and in solidarity with all oppressed peoples of color, the membership of NCOBPS should be unanimously and unambiguously in support of this resolution.

The United Nations and numerous NGOs including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and the International Court of Justice have condemned the oppression and repression that is the norm in the apartheid system Israel administers in the illegally occupied and settled territories of the West Bank. Among the more egregious forms of this repression is the 430 mile apartheid, segregation wall that restricts the right of Palestinians to travel, while allowing Israelis to move freely on roads throughout the occupied lands. (The International Court of Justice and the UN General Assembly have declared the Wall a violation of international law, and the United States vetoed a resolution in the Security Council making a similar declaration). Another egregious violation of international law and norms is the routine use of collective punishment, in which homes and vineyards of the relatives of persons who use force to resist the occupation are destroyed.  Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both condemned this obvious violation of due process.

Bill Fletcher, the former director of TransAfrica, led a delegation of African American artists to Palestine last year, and came away “shocked and angered” by what he saw “It felt like being in a huge prison” he wrote “At every turn we never lost sight of the ignominious separation wall…. A wall with guard/ sniper towers…. My delegation and I found it both frightening and sadly familiar that the Palestinians have few rights that Israeli authorities are bound to respect…. Blink once, and you saw apartheid South Africa; blink twice, and you saw the Jim Crow South of the USA, blink three times, and you realized that you were not in the past, but in a very dangerous place where an entire population is facing the prospect of perpetual marginalization and dispossession” (Fletcher, 2014).

More recently UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wrote an op-ed in the New York Times titled “Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel”, in which he wrote that “nothing excuses terrorism” but “Palestinian frustration and grievances are growing under the weight of nearly a half-century of occupation. Ignoring this won’t make it disappear. No one can deny that the everyday reality of occupation provokes anger and despair, which are the major drivers of violence and extremism and undermine any hope of a negotiated two-state solution”. The Secretary General further averred that the “harsh, humiliating and endless occupation… is untenable. Keeping another people under indefinite occupation undermines the security of the future of both Israelis and Palestinians” (Ki-moon, 2016).

The situation is long untenable, and if not for the US veto the Security Council would undoubtedly have imposed sanctions on Israel for its flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions, opinions of the International Court of Justice and the norms of conduct for the occupation of lands illegally seized in war.

Given the US diplomatic shield and its overwhelming financial and military support of the Israeli regime, there is little reason for it to respect and abide by international law and opinion. With the destruction of Iraq, the cooptation of Egypt and Jordan, the disintegration of Syria and Israel’s overwhelming military superiority (including a large stockpile of nuclear weapons), there is little prospect it will take the decisions to dismantle the settlements and create the conditions for a viable Palestinian state with international safeguards for the security of both states. This is even more so the case, since in the last couple of decades domestic opposition to Israel’s policies of oppression and repression has for the most part withered away. Thus, it is becoming increasingly clear that the only way to move the Israeli state away from its policy of occupation and subordination of the Palestinians is to support the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. It was, after all, international civil society’s mobilization of sanctions that contributed to bringing the arrogant, hegemonic South African government to negotiate an end to apartheid.

The Israeli government and the Jewish lobby in Washington (AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League) will of course immediately invoke the anti-Semitism canard. However, this canard is likely to become increasingly ineffective. This is partly because the Jewish establishment’s unwavering support of the occupation and the settlements is being challenged by Reform Jewish leaders and young progressive Jews such as those who organized the J Street Project. In addition, Jewish opinion, which in the United States tends to be liberal, is increasingly ambivalent about the occupation and the reluctance of the Israeli government to engage in a meaningful peace process; indeed the opinion of young Jewish Americans is increasingly hostile to the occupation and subordination of the Palestinian people (Goldstein, 2011).

In a poignant op-ed in the Washington Post Steven Levitsky, a professor of political science at Harvard and Glen Weyl, a professor of law economics and law at the University of Chicago, both Jewish and Zionist, wrote:

The only tools that could plausibly shape Israeli strategic calculations are a withdrawal of US aid and diplomatic support, and boycotts of and divestitures from the Israeli economy. Boycotting only goods produced in settlements would not have sufficient impact to induce Israelis to rethink the status-quo. It is thus, reluctantly but resolutely, that we are refusing to travel to Israel, boycotting products produced there and calling on our universities to divest and our elected representatives to withdraw aid to Israel. Until Israel seriously engages with the peace process that either establishes a Palestinian state or grants full democratic citizenship to Palestinians living in a single state, we cannot continue to subsidize governments whose actions threaten Israel’s long-term survival (Levitsky and Weyl, 2025).



Fletcher, Bill, “On the Ugly Side of the Wall”, Tavis Smiley Show, February 6, 2014.

Goldstein, Dona, “Why Fewer Young Jews Share Their Parents View of Israel”, Time, September 29, 2011.

Ki-moon, Ban, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel”, New York Times, January 31, 2016.

Levitsky, Steven and Glen Weyl, “We Are Lifelong Zionist: Here’s Why We’ve Chosen to Boycott Israel”, Washington Post, October 23, 2015.


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