Tag Archives: Cornel West

‘Israeli occupation needs to be brought to an end’

27 Feb


By David Palumbo-Liu, Salon, 26 February 2015

“The Israeli occupation is ugly, it’s vicious, it’s brutal and it not just needs to be brought to attention, it needs to be brought to an end”: Cornel West on Israel in Palestine — and why Gaza is “the hood on steroids”

American philosopher, author & academic activist, Cornel West speaks with a Stanford professor about the divestment effort and Palestinian activism.


One of the fundamental questions with regard to the critique of — and activism against — the Israeli occupation: How does this connect up with other social movements, and other struggles? Is the case of Israel and Palestine so specific, so complex, as to resist analogy? And if so, what does that mean for those who would be inclined to sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians, but unable to see their way clear to act in solidarity with them, as they might for others?

These are pressing and difficult problems, yet increasingly, and especially on college campuses, and in academic organizations, people are willing to discuss and debate things like divestment, as well as academic and cultural boycotts that refuse to endorse the status quo. Indeed, earlier this month a group of 600 artists that included Ken Loach, Brian Eno, Khalid Abdalla and Haim Bresheeth announced they were endorsing a cultural boycott of Israel.

At a recent event at Stanford, where I am a professor of comparative literature, Cornel West paused in the midst of a speech to praise the student organizers who had put forward a bill to ask the Stanford trustees to divest; the bill had failed by only one vote. (And, on February 18, there would be a revote, in which the bill was passed, 10-4-1.) West made a point of insisting that raising the Palestinian flag should not be seen as an act of narrow nationalism, but rather as an act of solidarity with an oppressed people, and as part of the effort to grant them their right to self determination.

Afterwards, I spoke about how the issue of Israel-Palestine was registering not only with young people, but also with older progressives and intellectuals, and about the linkages between civil rights struggles in the US and abroad.

First of all, let me ask you: Why do you endorse the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement? In what ways do the movement and its goals resonate with your longstanding activism, your values and principles?

Cornel West: Well I always proceed based on moral criteria and spiritual standards that have to do with keeping track of the humanity of persons. And there is no doubt in my mind that the Israeli occupation is ugly, it’s vicious, it’s brutal, and it needs to not just be brought to attention, it needs to be brought to an end. It’s also true that I am against the occupation of the Tibetan people and the occupation of Kashmir and others, but this particular occupation is one that deserves our attention precisely because as an American citizen my tax money is being used to perpetuate that ugly occupation.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: