NEW DELHI: The Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) have issued a strong statement rejecting the intervention by Daughters of Life, supported by Canada, in Occupied Jerusalem where “28 Israeli Arab (sic) and Jewish women were awarded scholarships to study at Israeli institutions.” The students in a statement sent to The Citizen said that they were appalled that this project was being carried out despite the 2009,2012, 2014 “war crimes against humanity” in Gaza and against the call given by the BDS movement for the academic boycott of Israel in the guise of empowering women.

The full statement reads:

Over and over again, champions of the boycott movement have condemned cooperation with apartheid Israel in acts of normalization. We, the Palestinian Students Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI), have adamantly and insistently written to artists, musicians, writers and student bodies urging them to cancel concerts, refuse prizes, and divest from companies cooperating with Israel's racist institutions and government.

Not more than a week ago, it came to our attention that Daughters for Life, with the support of the Embassy of Canada, organized an event in Occupied Jerusalem, attended by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, where “28 Israeli Arab (sic) and Jewish women were awarded scholarships to study at Israeli institutions.” The Palestinian side is used as fig-leaf to cover up a normalization project. Daughters for Life Foundation is presented as an organization that “believes that empowering girls and young women through education will help promote peace in the region.” Ironically, this comes at a time when the BDS campaign in Canada is being viciously attacked and a bill to blacklist supporters of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions movement was handily defeated in the parliament of Ontario.

We are appalled that this project is being carried out in spite of Israel's indiscriminate killings of civilian Palestinians in Gaza 2009, 2012, and 2014 in acts of "war crimes and crimes against humanity;" and in spite of Israel's destruction of Palestinian Universities in Gaza, its military occupation of the West Bank, and its policy of racial discrimination against the indigenous population of Palestine 1948.

Most Israeli academic institutions where those Palestinian and Israeli women are supposed to be offered scholarships, including the Hebrew University, Haifa, and Tel Aviv University are built on stolen land; they don't recognize the Palestinian Nakba of 1948, and are complicit in the Apartheid policies of the state of Israel against the 1948 Palestinians—not to mention the siege on Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank.

In sending Palestinian students over to Israeli universities with Israel Jewish women in order to have them learn about "peace making and cooperation" with a state that killed their grandparents, ethnically cleansed the land of their forbearers, and demolishes their houses is an insult to the Palestinian struggle against Israeli apartheid and occupation. This act of normalization aims to blur the boundaries between oppressor and oppressed, colonizer and colonized, occupier and occupied, executioner and victim, and ultimately aims at whitewashing Israel's war crimes, the last of which was committed 2014 when Israel launched its massive war against the civilian population of Gaza killing 2200, including 520 children. The projected program speaks about "peace and cooperation" without mentioning Israel's gross violation of human rights, and deals with the Palestine question as one of conflict, rather than one of colonization and apartheid. It does not mention Israel being the only nuclear power in the region, owning the fourth strongest army in the world. It claims to be about "peace and empowerment" without a mention of justice and accountability. Therefore, it is a sham, an insult to the spilt blood of tens of thousands of murdered Palestinians, including students, since 1948.

On another note, we, as Palestinian Students, would accept these scholarships and awards only if they do not include cooperation with Israeli institutions unless they recognize our rights under International Law and condemn Israel’s policy of occupation, colonization and apartheid. That is our understanding of peace with justice.

We, therefore, call on all Palestinian students, whether from 1967 occupied areas, or 1948, to denounce Daughters for Life as an organization that normalizes Israel’s colonization and apartheid.

Besieged Gaza, Palestine

The Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)