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Open Letter on Gaza and BDS from the Middle East Caucus of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies

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As scholars, artists and community organizers, and as members of the Middle East Caucus (MEC) of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS), we are deeply disturbed by the indiscriminate and disproportionate violence that has been waged these past weeks by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) against the civilian population of Gaza. This is a population which has been living under a tight military and economic siege, enacted by Israel and bankrolled by the United States and its allies, for the past seven years in what has countless times been described as the largest “open air prison” in the world. From July 8th to August 26th, a devastating military campaign by the Israeli army was waged, turning Gaza once again into a humanitarian disaster. The siege affects everyone in Gaza, including students and educators, families and children, doctors and paramedics, farmers and civil society workers, all of whom are unable to find refuge. By all counts and in the mildest of terms, the violence has taken an unprecedented and savage turn, having reached genocidal proportions. Children who would otherwise be in school play one day on the beach in defiance of their parents’ fears and Israeli bombardments, and in an instant are purposefully targeted in plain sight by Israeli naval ships, their deaths captured by various media. As they run away from the first shelling, they are killed by the second, as incredulous journalists look on. Entire families die together now, neighborhoods wiped out. As of this writing, more than 2,100 Palestinians have been killed and roughly 11,000 injured in Gaza in this latest Israeli aggression, the third in six years, not to mention the lifetime injuries that defy quantification. A conservative estimate posits roughly eighty percent of those killed are civilian; among them nearly 500 are children, ten times the number killed during the 2008/09 “Operation Cast Lead”. Israel has yet again declared war on Palestinian civilians, students and academic institutions, without addressing its illegal occupation and besiegement of them.

Israel must be held accountable to international law and humanitarian principles, which prohibit collective punishment and stipulate the protection of civilians during times of war. International human rights organizations have documented IDF violations of fundamental norms of international law in what amounts to Israeli war crimes in Gaza. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported after only the first week of the assault, “Horrific developments in Gaza have reached intolerable heights: Israel is bombing houses with people in them, entire families have been buried under rubble, and streets lie in ruins. Hundreds have been killed so far, dozens in the last 24 hours only, many of them women and children. The number of refugees is rising: tens of thousands of people have nowhere to go and no safe haven.”

To remember the victims of past genocides and atrocities, we must also condemn present ones. We cannot condemn one genocide and tolerate another. We cannot accept or deny the wanton murder of others that we would otherwise find horrific, not under any justification.

In view of these conditions, and in an effort to add our voices to countless others worldwide who are speaking out to condemn and stand firm against the Israel atrocities, the MEC of SCMS endorses the Call for international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel that originated in Palestinian civil society in 2005. This non-violent call was modeled on the Call for BDS against the apartheid government of South Africa in the 1970s. In so doing, the MEC acknowledges, with appreciation, recent efforts by the American Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the Association for Humanist Sociology, the Association of Asian American Studies, the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, and the African Literature Association, which have adopted resolutions supporting the right of students and scholars to mobilize around BDS and endorsing the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

The MEC’s support for BDS is in no way in response to any law, directive, program or mandate of any national government, including the provisional government of Palestine. The MEC recognizes and supports the call for BDS to continue until, as set forth in the Call,

“Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

• Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

• Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and;

• Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”


Organizational Endorsements

SCMS Asian/Pacific American Caucus

SCMS Queer Caucus

U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI)

Center for Constitutional Rights

Faculty 4 Palestine (Canada)

Association des Universitaires pour le Respect de la Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP) [French translation]

Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI)

Palestine Solidarity Committee in India

British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)


Individual Signatories – SCMS Members

     – to sign on, e-mail mecstatement@gmail.com

1. Niki Akhavan – Middle East Caucus

2. Samirah Alkassim – Middle East Caucus

3. Nezar Andary – Middle East Caucus

4. Terri Ginsberg – Middle East Caucus, Caucus on Class, Queer Caucus

5. Najat Rahman – Middle East Caucus

6. Sara Saljoughi – Middle East Caucus

7. Peter Limbrick – Middle East Caucus

8. Hadi Gharabaghi – Middle East Caucus

9. Robert Lang – Middle East Caucus

10. Melis Behlil – Middle East Caucus

11. Colleen Jankovic – Middle East Caucus, Queer Caucus

12. Mark Westmoreland – Middle East Caucus

13. Linda Mokdad – Middle East Caucus

14. Sarah Barkin – Middle East Caucus

15. Laura Marks – Middle East Caucus

16. Suzanne Gauch – Middle East Caucus

17. Stefanie Van de Peer – Middle East Caucus

18. Mona Damluji – Middle East Caucus

19. Chris Lippard – Middle East Caucus, Caucus on Class

20. Murat Akser – Middle East Caucus

21. Sibel Taylor – Middle East Caucus

22. Viviane Saglier – Middle East Caucus

23. Samhita Sunya – Middle East Caucus

24. Maryam Monalisa Gharavi – Middle East Caucus

25. Lynne Jackson – Middle East Caucus, Caucus on Class

26. Jeffrey Masko – Middle East Caucus, Caucus on Class, Caucus Coordinating Committee

27. Chuck Kleinhans – Caucus on Class

28. Jamie Rogers – Caucus on Class

29. Steve Macek – Caucus on Class

30. Paula Gilligan – Caucus on Class

31. Mike Budd – Middle East Caucus, Caucus on Class, Documentary Studies Group

32. Theresa Geller – Queer Caucus, Women’s Caucus

33. Stephen Charbonneau – Caucus on Class, Documentary Studies Group

34. Neepa Majumdar – Executive Council, Asian/Pacific American Caucus, Caucus on Class

35. Brian Hu – Asian/Pacific American Caucus

36. Silvia Chong – Asian/Pacific American Caucus

37. Genevieve Lue – Asian/Pacific American Caucus

38. Kenneth W. Harrow – African/African American Caucus

39. Bhaskar Sarkar – Asian/Pacific American Caucus, Queer Caucus

40. Bishnupriya Ghosh – Media and Environment Scholarly Interest Group

41. Peter J. Bloom – Transnational Cinemas Scholarly Interest Group

42. Greg Burris – Middle East Caucus

43. Nicholas Sammond – Animated Media Scholarly Interest Group

44. Marc Siegel – Queer Caucus, Experimental Film and Media Scholarly Interest Group

45. Damon R. Young, Queer Caucus, Contemporary Theory and French/Francophone SIGs

46. Hoang Tan Nguyen – Asian/Pacific American Caucus, Queer Caucus

47. Roopali Mukherjee – African/African American Caucus

48. Rachel Webb – Transnational Cinemas Scholarly Interest Group

49. Homay King – Bryn Mawr College; Editorial Board, Camera Obscura

50. Jonathan Buchsbaum – French/Francophone Scholarly Interest Group

51. Patty Ahn – Asian/Pacific American Caucus, Queer Caucus

52. Zach Melzer – Film and Moving Image Studies, Concordia University

53. Susan Potter – Queer Caucus, Women’s Caucus

54. David Gerstner – Queer Caucus

55. Dominic Leppla – Concordia University

56. Monika Mehta – Binghamton University

57. Laura Harris – culture/film/performance scholar, University of California-Riverside

58. Steven Marsh – Contemporary Theory Scholarly Interest Group

59. Cesare Casarino – Caucus on Class, Queer Caucus

60. Baran Germen – Middle East Caucus, Queer Caucus

61. Julie Levin Russo – Caucus Coordinating Committee

62. Mercedes Vázquez – Caucus on Class

63. Hossein Khosrowjah – Middle East Caucus


Individual Signatories – Academic and Film/Media Communities

     – to sign on, e-mail mecstatement@gmail.com

1. Michael Ratner, Esq., President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights

2. Hamid Naficy, film scholar, Northwestern University

3. Kevin Dwyer, professor of Anthropology (ret.), The American University in Cairo

4. Haim Bresheeth, media scholar, SOAS, University of London

5. Yosefa Loshitzky, film scholar, SOAS, University of London

6. Ann Kibbey, University of Colorado at Boulder

7. Azadeh Saljooghi, film scholar, University of Wollongong in Dubai

8. Gayatri Devi, Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania

9. Leo Parascondola, William Paterson University

10. Tania Kamal-Eldin, filmmaker and independent producer, USA

11. Victoria Pasley, film and history scholar, Houston, TX

12. Minoo Moallem, film and media scholar, Berkeley, CA

13. Dennis Broe, film scholar, Long Island University

14. Aisha Jamal, film and cultural studies, Trent University

15. Mary Jo Nadeau, independent scholar, Toronto

16. Shahrzad Mojab, University of Toronto

17. Vannina Sztainbok, University of Toronto

18. Roger Beck, University of Toronto

19. Jennifer Heath, independent scholar, Boulder, CO

20. Alisa Lebow, film scholar, University of Sussex

21. Adrienne Hurley, McGill University

22. Milly Williamson, Dept. of Screen Media, Brunel University

23. Louis-Georges Schwartz, School of Film, Ohio University

24. Kathy Wazana, documentary filmmaker, Toronto

25. Merrill Cole, Western Illinois University

26. Nadia Barhoum, University of California-Berkeley

27. Cahal McLaughlin, Film Studies, Queen’s University Belfast

26. Janice Peck, University of Colorado at Boulder

27. Didier Ortiz, Green Party of Florida

28. Salah D. Hassan, Michigan State University

29. Paul O’Hanlon, Edinburgh, Scotland

30. William Messing, University of Minnesota

31. Samer Alatout, University of Wisconsin-Madison

32. Mary Ellen Davis, independent filmmaker, film instructor, Montreal

33. Dr. Denis Rancourt, formerly of University of Ottawa; former radio producer-host

34. Sarah Schulman, author and film curator, College of Staten Island-City University of New York

35. Pam Sporn, documentary filmmaker, New York City

36. Hannah J. Feldman, Art History, Northwestern University

37. Jamil Khader, Stetson University; Birzeit University, Palestine

38. Jayce Salloum, filmmaker, Vancouver

39. Glenn Bowman, Visual Anthropologist, University of Kent at Canterbury

40. Sean Cubitt, Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College-University of London

41. John Smith, Fine Art, University of East London

42. Daniel Lindvall, Editor-in-Chief, Film International

43. Benjamin de Lee, State University of New York-Cortland

44. Shahd Wadi, feminism and cultural studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal

46. Anandi Ramamurthy, Media and Cultural Studies, University of Central Lancashire

47. Doris Bittar, visual artist, California State University-San Marcos

48. Deirdre O’Neill, Inside Film

49. Christopher Stone, City University of New York

50. Ahmed Abbes, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, France

51. Sheila Delany, Simon Fraser University

52. Aziz Choudry, McGill University

53. Lee Grieveson, Director of Graduate Programme in Film Studies, University College London

54. Claudia Chaufan, University of California-San Francisco

55. Juhani Etto, narrator of audio books

56. Jay Murphy, writer and independent curator, New Orleans/New York

57. Gholam Khiabany, Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College-University of London

58. Jess Ghannam, University of California-San Francisco; President, Arab Film Festival, USA

58. Nadine Boljkovac, scholar of cinema & visual cultures, UK

60. Peter Snowdon, filmmaker; MAD Faculty, PXL/University of Hasselt, Belgium

61. Gloria Monti, Radio-TV-Film, California State University-Fullerton

62. Jason Livingston, filmmaker, University of Iowa

63. Dr. Sophia Kanaouti, journalist and researcher, Greece

64. Sylvia Harvey, Media and Communication, University of Leeds

65. Benjamin Miller, University of Sydney

66. Ron Hayduk, Queens College-City University of New York

67. Malini Guha, Film Studies, Carleton University

68. Marcus Free, Media and Communications, Mary Immaculate College-University of Limerick

69. Elke Weissmann, Television Studies, Edge Hill University, UK

70. Miranda Pennell, filmmaker and PhD candidate, University of Westminster

71. Abby Lippman, McGill University (emerita)

72. Jenny Morgan, documentary filmmaker, London

73. Jill Daniels, filmmaker and senior lecturer, University of East London

74. Eva Jørholt, Film, Media and Communication, University of Copenhagen

75. John Greyson, film/videomaker, York University

76. Annemarie Jacir, filmmaker, Palestine

77. Ann Overbergh, film scholar, Belgium

78. Sarah Farahat, independent artist, Portland, OR

79. Kamal Aljafari, filmmaker, Palestine

80. Margaret Schwartz, Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University

81. Alice Rothchild, M.D., author and filmmaker, Boston, MA

82. Elliot J. Reichert, curator of art, Northwestern University

83. Ece Algan, Media & Cultural Studies, California State University-San Bernardino

84. Mai Masri, filmmaker, Palestine

85. Patricia Holland, film and media scholar, Bournemouth University

86. Pary El-Qalqili, filmmaker, Germany/Palestinian

87. Gabriel Moreno, Media and Communication Design, Northumbria University

88. Colin Royle, Librarian (retired), Outremont, Quebec

89. Juana Maria Rodriguez, University California at Berkeley

90. Philip Rizk, filmmaker, member of Mosireen Collective, Cairo

91. Keith Sanborn, media artist, curator, Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University

92. Catherine Lord, Studio Arts, University of California-Irvine

93. Diana Allan, Cornell University

93. Fahmidul Haq, film and media scholar, Dhaka University, Bangladesh

94. Louis Proyect, New York Film Critics Online and CounterPunch magazine

95. Yara El-Ghadban, anthropologist and writer, Montreal

96. Nawal Halawa, President of Arab Cultural House, Quebec, Canada

97. Rehab Nazzal, media artist, Canada

98. Julian Petley, School of the Arts, Brunel University

99. Walid El Hamamsy, Cairo University

100. Caroline Rooney, Research Fellow (Arts), University of Kent

101. Liana Badr, writer and filmmaker, Palestine

102. Jake Davidson, artist/filmmmaker, MFA Bard College

103. Aliaa Khachouk, Syrian/Canadian filmmaker

104. Dalia Said Mostafa, University of Manchester

105. Walid El Khachab, York University

106. Elena Razlogova, film and media scholar, Concordia University

107. Andrew Hobbs, Journalism & Digital Communication, University of Central Lancashire

108. Madiha Tahir, documentary filmmaker, Ph.D. candidate, Columbia University

109. Michael Witt, Media, Culture and Language, University of Roehampton

110. Nasrin Himada, film scholar and independent film curator, Concordia University

111. Peggy Ahwesh, Film & Electronic Arts, Bard College

112. Omar Robert Hamilton, Mosireen Collective / PalFest, Cairo

113. Eman Haram, interdisciplinary artist, Montreal

114. Ketty Papadima, RECE, Ottawa

115. Lee Edwards, School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds

116. Delwyn Swingewood, School of Journalism and Media, University of Central Lancashire

117. Luis Pérez-González, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester

118. Claudia Borgna, artist and student, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles


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