Boycott: protect your right to civic action!

Following the conviction of citizens who called for the boycott of Israeli products, several known figures launched a call for freedom of citizen action. The paper Politis has published their call.

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AFPS, Wednesday 27 January 2016

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

We are shocked at the news of the French High Court’s ruling of 20 October 2015, upholding the conviction of citizens for having called for the boycott of Israeli products, in light of the State of Israel’s violations of international law.

Beyond the various opinions we may hold on this boycott, we wish to express our outrage at such an attack on civil rights. Boycotts for social, political and economic change have always been considered protected forms of free speech in democratic countries.

What has France come to, when a call for boycott is considered “incitement to discrimination” only if it concerns Israel, but would pose no problem if aimed at another country? Was the boycott against apartheid South Africa a form of “discrimination”?

For decades, the State of Israel has violated international conventions and trampled the UN-sanctioned rights of the Palestinian people, especially the inalienable right to self-determination, without causing any reaction beyond verbal condemnation on the part of our governments. Faced with this inaction, it is the right and the duty of citizens to act through the peaceful means at their disposal.

Boycott on the part of citizens, calls for Divestment by institutions, pension funds and companies, demands for Sanctions on the part of States, the EU and the UN: these are nonviolent ways to answer the call issued by the absolute majority in Palestinian civil society in 2005.

This call of the Palestinian civil society is based on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rejection of all forms of racism including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. It has thus received the support of many Jewish activists, academics and artists worldwide.

Around the world, the State of Israel is actively promoting a conflation that is extremely dangerous, including for Jewish citizens of different countries: that any criticism of Israeli policy is tantamount to antisemitism. It is appalling to see the French State continue to give in to this kind of pressure.

We call on the President of the Republic and the French Government to react urgently:

  • by immediately repealing the Alliot Marie and Mercier circulars, which instruct French prosecutors to go after all activists who call for a boycott of Israeli products exclusively,
  • by marking the boundaries, clearly and publicly, between antisemitism, which is a crime, and civic action against the State of Israel’s disregard for international law, which is a citizen’s inalienable right.

This clarification is particularly urgent given the dramatic context that France has endured since the 13th of November, a context that requires the utmost clarity and the rejection of all false conflation.

If, on the other hand, you persist in this confusion, then follow through with your logic and launch legal proceedings against all of us for our principled support for French activists who call for the boycott of Israeli products as long as Israel continues to violate international law.

This international call is addressed to the President of the Republic, Mr. François Hollande, the Prime Minister, Mr. Manuel Valls, and the Minister of Justice, Mr. Jean-Jacques Urvoas.

First signers

Rony Brauman, doctor, essay writer

Jean-Paul Chagnollaud, professor of political science and director of the iReMMO

Christiane Hessel

Monique Chemillier-Gendreau, professor emeritus at Université Paris Diderot

Ghislain Poissonnier, magistrate

Guillaume Weill-Raynal, lawyer and essay writer

Ivar Ekeland, former president of Université Paris-Dauphine

Ahmed Abbes : head of research at the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research), Paris

Sonia Dayan-Herzbrun, professor emeritus at Université Paris Diderot-Paris7

Michael Harris, professor, Université Paris-Diderot

Jean-Marc Levy-Leblond, professor emeritus at Université de Nice, director of the journal Alliage

Gérard Toulouse, physicist, head of research at the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research), founding member of the Académie des Technologies

Pierre Cartier, head of research emeritus at the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research)

René Backmann, journalist

Alain Gresh, journalist

Patrick Le Hyaric, director of the paper L’Humanité

Denis Sieffert, director of the paper Politis

Dominique Vidal Sephiha, journalist and historian

Pascal Durand, member of the European parlament

Monique Cerisier ben-Guiga, honorary senator

Jean-Claude Lefort, honorary deputy, honorary president of the AFPS

Bernard Ravenel, historian, honorary president of the AFPS

Jacques Muller, honorary mayor of Wattwiller, former senator of Haut-Rhin

Michèle Zémor, vice president of Plaine Commune agglomeration

Allain Graux, independent journalist

Augustin Grosdoy, co-president of MRAP

Dominique Watrin, senator of Pas de Calais

Jean-Jacques Candelier, Nord deputy

Alain Bocquet, Nord deputy

Fatima Bezli, regional council of Auvergne-Rhône Alpes

Barbara Romagnan, Doubs deputy

Titi Robin, musician

Saïd Bouamama, sociologist

Henri Stoll, mayor of Kaysersberg-Vignoble

Isabelle Avran, journalist

Hassane Zerrouky, political and investigative journalist

Pierre Barbancey, journalist (international correspondent)

Rosa Moussaoui, journalist

Clémentine Autain, spokesperson of Ensemble

Marie-Claire Cailletaud, trade unionist

Marie-Hélène Amiable, mayor of Bagneux, departmental councillor

Jacques Couland, historian

Bernard Rodenstein, pastor, founding president of the association Espoir (Hope) in Colmar

Daniel Breuiller, mayor of Arcueil

Denis Péan (Lo’Jo), artist

Marie-Caire Cailletaud, trade unionist

Eric Coquerel, political coordinator of the Parti de Gauche party, regional councillor of Ile de France

Christian Troadec, mayor of Carhaix, departmental councillor of Finistère

Pierre Ivora, journalist, l’Humanité

Robert Clément, former mayor of Romainville and former president of the council of Seine Saint Denis

Jean-Pierre Frachon, mountaineer

Azzedine Taïbi, mayor of Stains and vice-president of departmental council of Seine-Saint-Denis

Patrice Leclerc, mayor of Gennevilliers

Julien Pauliac, secretary of the Puy-de-Dôme CGT Union

Myriam Martin, regional councillor and spokesperson for Ensemble

Isabelle Bloch, professor emeritus at university of Bordeaux

Patrick Jarry, mayor of Nanterre

Hakim Amokrane, Zebda

Mustapha Amokrane, Zebda

Kaddour Hadadi, singer, HK & les Saltimbanks

Raphaëlle Primet, city councillor of Paris

Danielle Simonnet, city councillor of Paris

Jérôme Gleizes, city councillor of Paris

Danielle Bidard-Reydet, honorary senator

Majed Bamya, Palestinian diplomat

Christian Champiré, mayor of Grenay

Pierre Laurent, Paris senator and national secretary of the PCF

Lucien Champenois, former diplomat

Bernard Salamand, President of the CRID

Patrick Braouezec, honorary member of Parliament, president of Plaine Commune

Didier Paillard, mayor of Saint-Denis

Nicolas Séguy, musician

Raoul-Marc Jennar, essayist

Joss Dray, photographer

Daniel Junqua, journalist

Danielle Moreau, President of Ritimo

Philippe Grosvalet, president of departmental council of Loire-Atlantique

Jacques Roger-Machart, former deputy

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