“Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” movement against Israel will be discussed at Kalamazoo College conference

Logo for 2014 Without Borders ConferenceFrom the 1950s through the 1980s, global activists organized economic boycotts, academic boycotts, and divestment campaigns to pressure South Africa’s government into abandoning its official policy of racial segregation, known as apartheid.

Today, a growing movement uses similar tactics against Israel because of its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, as well as recent actions that have caused the death of more than 2,000 Palestinians and the injury and dislocation of many more.

Israel and its supporters say its actions are required for national security and the safety of its citizens, and that the so-called “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” (BDS) movement is misguided.

The legitimacy, effectiveness, and future of the BDS movement will be among the issues explored by a plenary panel of leading activists and scholars at Kalamazoo College, as part of the With/Out – ¿Borders? Conference, September 25-28, hosted by the College’s Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership.

The event is titled “Critical Solidarities: The Palestinian Question” and will be held Saturday, September 27, at 9:30 am. Panelists include:

  • Activist and scholar Angela Davis, distinguished professor emerita in the departments of History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz.
  • Alex Lubin, professor and chair of the American Studies Department at the University of New Mexico, and a former director for the Center for American Studies and Research at the American University of Beirut.
  • Lynn Pollack, a long-time peace activist and board member of Jewish Voice for Peace.
  • Saree Makdisi, professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA, and author of “Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation” and other books.
  • Leena Odeh (moderator), a Chicago-based activist who has spent the past year in Beirut and has contributed eyewitness accounts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to ElectronicIntifada.net.

The event is offered as part of the With/Out – ¿Borders? Conference that will explore other hot-button issues including youth immigration and the prison-industrial complex.

With/Out – ¿Borders? is billed as both a conference and “un-conference,” according to Lisa Brock, academic director of K’s Arcus Center.

“In addition to formal presentations, there will be performances, films, and informal spaces where attendees may share learning, give impromptu demonstrations, begin public discussions, stage a performance, and more,” said Brock

All activists, artists, students, researchers, and others interested in international movements and social justice are invited to attend the With/Out – ¿Borders? Conference. Registration is on a sliding scale from $35 to $125, and group rates are available. Space is limited, and interested persons are urged to register as soon as possible.

Accessibility and translation services available upon request.

The mission of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership is to support the pursuit of human rights and social justice by developing emerging leaders and sustaining existing leaders in the field of human rights and social justice, creating a pivotal role for liberal arts education in engendering a more just world.

Kalamazoo College (www.kzoo.edu), founded in Kalamazoo, Mich., in 1833, is a nationally recognized liberal arts and sciences college and the creator of the K-Plan that emphasizes rigorous scholarship, experiential learning, leadership development, and international and intercultural engagement. Kalamazoo College does more in four years so students can do more in a lifetime.


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Andy Brown

About Andy Brown

As the Director of News and Social Media, Andy shares the stories that distinguish Kalamazoo College through social media, the Web and the news media. Contact him at abrown@kzoo.edu.