A motion calling for the endorsement of Standing Together, the latest in a long line of Israeli initiatives intended to divert attention from the murderous oppression and land seizure in Palestine, came before the Leeds University UCU branch last evening. It was soundly rejected. In the decisive vote, 22 percent voted for, 59 percent voted against and 20 percent abstained. This latest attempt at normalisation is explained in the following critique by PACBI:

Standing Together: Serving Apartheid Israel’s Propaganda

This Israeli normalization organization is intellectually dishonest and seeks to whitewash Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a founding member of the BDS movement, calls on conscientious people, organizations, and unions around the world not to engage with Standing Together, an Israeli normalization outfit that seeks to distract from and whitewash Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza.

By trying to paint Israel as a tolerant, diverse, and normal state, and focusing on “hatred” rather than oppression as the problem, this organization is intellectually dishonest and outright complicit. It is serving a key role in Israel’s international propaganda strategy at this time. This is seen from the group’s sudden efforts and visibility abroad to get the world to engage with complicit Israeli narratives at this very moment when Israel is on trial at the International Court of Justice for genocide in Gaza and when Palestinians are calling for apartheid Israel’s isolation in response to this genocide.

Standing Together’s premise is that a shared home can be achieved for Palestinians and Israelis if they refuse “hatred and choose empathy.” It claims to mobilize Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel in pursuit of “peace, equality, and social and climate justice,” yet it fails to even mention the elephant in the room: Israel’s 75-year-old regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid, the root cause of “conflict” and violence. Its approach is reminiscent of the morally bankrupt suggestions to South Africans resisting apartheid in the past to eschew “hatred” and “conflict” and embrace peace and empathy without calling for ending apartheid.

Standing Together fails to recognize Israel’s crime against humanity of apartheid, now documented as such not only by Palestinian activists and organizations, but by leading human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Instead, it pays lip service to “ending the occupation,” and even then it adopts a framework that sets Israelis and Palestinians as equally responsible for the oppressive reality. In doing so, this organization creates a false parity between the structural oppression of the Israeli occupiers and that of the oppressed and colonized Palestinians. This normalization outfit thus evades discussions on the moral and legal responsibility of states, institutions, and corporations to end their respective complicity in Israel’s system of injustice, particularly now when it is perpetrating the world’s most livestreamed genocide against 2.3 million Palestinians in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip.

Moreover, rather than call for an end to the genocide and underlying regime of apartheid, and demand accountability for those who are taking part in both, Standing Together continues to parrot “liberal” Zionist arguments of dialogue and unethical coexistence–one that is based on a master-slave relation rather than justice, reparations and full equality– that serve as a fig leaf for what B’Tselem has termed, “Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

PACBI is a key constituent of the Palestinian leadership of the global BDS movement, supported by a majority of Palestinian society in historic Palestine and in exile, including entities representing Palestinian citizens of present-day Israel. We recognize normalization as a key strategy of the Israeli state, and therefore, a form of violence committed against our people, whereby the Israeli state attempts to colonize our minds, and make occupation, apartheid, and settler colonialism seem normal. In response, anti-normalization is an important tactic that calls on people to refuse to participate in projects, events, or activities that promote the normalcy of the Israeli state as a legitimate entity or that would create a parity in the relationship between oppressor and oppressed. We, therefore, ask that conscientious people and groups around the world refrain from engaging with this organization that seeks to sidetrack urgently needed effective action to stop Israel’s ongoing genocide and dismantle its apartheid regime, perpetuating Israel’s brutal oppression of Palestinians. Justice delayed is justice denied.