A world-wide campaign demanding the relocation of the regional conference of the International Geographers’ Union (IGU) outside Israel is an inspiring model that PACBI wishes to highlight in this column. Sustained campaigns arguing for the academic boycott of Israel play an important role in raising awareness of the complicity of the Israeli academy in maintaining and justifying colonialism, occupation and apartheid, and also in serving notice that no business as usual can be conducted with Israeli academic institutions.
PACBI issued an open letter to the IGU in October 2009 urging it to relocate the July 2010 conference to another venue in the region, noting that in the event that this demand was not met, we would call for a widespread boycott of the conference. PACBI based itself on the fact that the conference is to be hosted by the Israeli National Commission for Geography, a body working under the auspices of the Israeli Academy of Sciences, as well as the fact that the conference steering committee is composed of representatives of geography departments at Israeli universities. In PACBI’s view, the conference is thus firmly planted in the academic establishment in Israel, and as such subject to boycott. It is well known that geography departments at Israeli institutions provide the academic scaffolding for the policies of ethnic cleansing, exclusion, dispossession, and racial discrimination practiced against Palestinians both within Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. The geographical knowledge produced by the Israeli academic establishment has been essential to assemble the spatial apparatus of ethnic segregation and destruction set in place by Israel’s civilian and military structures. 
In its response, the IGU Executive Committee rejected the PACBI call, appealing to IGU statutes that proscribe discrimination and boycotts, and repeating well-worn arguments about the free circulation of ideas that boycotts allegedly violate. The PACBI response, which also included a call for the boycott of the conference, noted that the IGU Executive’s point about discrimination based on race, ethnic group affiliation, citizenship, religion, sex or political opinion was not relevant here. Israel was being targeted because it is a racist and discriminatory state, as its practices—embodied in legislation and state policy—demonstrate. 
The PACBI appeal spurred a debate in geographical circles in Europe and North America. Inspired by the PACBI call for a boycott of the conference, a petition entitled “We cannot be neutral on a moving train!” was initiated in February 2010 by geographers from around the world, calling upon the IGU Executive Committee “to take immediate steps to relocate the July 12–16, 2010 regional conference outside Israel. Given the circumstances, if the conference goes ahead inside Israel we will not attend or otherwise participate in any manner. We urge you to act promptly and ethically in this matter.” 
We urge geographers and other academics around the world to sign this petition , which has been endorsed by the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE), the Palestinian Students‘ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI), the University Teachers‘ Association in Palestine, Faculty for Palestine in Canada, and the Israeli group BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within! among many academics in their individual capacities.
 The exchange with the IGU can be read here: http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1126&key=geographical