UK High Court upholds conference ban and undermines academic freedom
A high court judge decided that political pressure backed up by spurious claims of threats to health and safety outweighed academic freedom and upheld Southampton Univerity administration's ban on the conference.
The conference organisers are determined that the conference will take place at a later date. They are urgently seeking a venue whose mangers believe that threats should not determine what may be discussed in Britain and that the discussion of the legal basis of the Israeli state must not be outlawed
Petition to uphold free speech & allow the conference on Israel and international law to proceed now has over 10,000 signatures - add your name
Haim Bresheeth has prepared an update on developments at Southampton University following the unprecedented ban of the academic conference on International Law and the State of Israel, on behalf of BRICUP. His article details the pressure Zionist organisations, Conservative MPs and Cabinet Ministers put upon the University administration. He demonstrates the falsity of the University's claim that it cancelled the conference on Health and Safety grounds. The article places the cancellation of the Southampton conference in the context of cancellation of events promoting Palestinian rights at other UK and European Universities; increasing aggression by Israel; and an escalating campaign to label all criticism of Israel as anti-semitic.
Academics' statement in support of the University of Southampton
This statement has been overtaken by events
We, the undersigned academics, express principled and full support for the University of Southampton’s commitment to freedom of speech and scholarly debate.
We commend the University of Southampton administration, including Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam, for its resolute defence of academic freedom.
It is standing principle and recognised practice that academic conference organisers have the right to choose those speakers and topics they feel would best address the purposes of the conference, without these being dictated to them by outside parties. To the best of our knowledge, the conference invitations in this case are based on qualification to speak on the topic rather than on political positions held.
We affirm, as academics from various disciplines and institutions of higher education, that the themes of the conference, such as the relationship of international law to the historic and ongoing political violence in Palestine/Israel, and critical reflections on nationality and self-determination, are entirely legitimate subjects for debate and inquiry.
We are very concerned that partisan attempts are being made to silence dissenting analyses of the topic in question. For external pressure and interference, especially from political lobby groups and a government minister, to censor lawful academic discussion would set a worrying precedent.
We trust that the programme of ‘International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism’ will go ahead as planned, to the credit of the University of Southampton and all those involved.
The National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies Annual Conference took place in San Francisco from April 15-18, 2015. The business meeting, open to all members, took place on Saturday evening at the close of the conference. At the business meeting, the membership gave unanimous support to the Resolution to Support the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions. In addition, individual FOCOS (regional caucuses) and interest group Caucuses all voted to support the resolution.
Over 100 academics protest about invitation of denier of Palestinian human rights to give keynote to philosphy event
Well over a hundred prominent academics from the Europe and the United States—including Alain Badiou, Etienne Balibar, Catherine Malabou, Jacques Rancière, Judith Butler, Angela Davis, Richard Falk, and Gayatri Spivak--have sent an open letter to Mériam Korichi, Curator and Stage Director of A Night of Philosophy. The letter calls attention to the tremendous irony of having as one of the keynote speakers Monique Canto-Sperber. For a major event on philosophy, a field that is predicated on free inquiry and intellectual exploration, to give a forum on free speech to someone who, as the head of one of the major prestigious schools in France, was responsible for two of the most egregious acts of censorship of Palestinians and of critics of Israeli state policies, is beyond being a stark contradiction—it is appalling.
While the signatories recognize and respect Canto-Sperber’s right to speak at the event, they find it incumbent upon themselves to register hteir profound disappointment and to protest in the strongest terms possible that one of the key people you have selected to promote free speech at your Night of Philosophy has been an open practitioner of denying the same to Palestinians and their supporters.
Boycott for Peace; Divest for Justice; Sanctions for Liberty - BRICUP response to Board of Deputies attack on BDS
The Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) have performed a valuable service is compiling
the common mis-representations of the BDS campaign, along with a few original ones, in a
single glossy 50 page document A Better Way than Boycotts. BRICUP has analysed the document and prepared a response pointing out the misrepresentations and distrortions of the document spring from four false premises:
- Firstly, that although the Israeli Government may have made mistakes, some serious, it has done nothing criminal or beyond the usual failures of democratic states.
- Secondly, all calls for BDS arise from malevolence at best and outright antisemitism at worst.
- Thirdly, there is no fundamental imbalance of power between Israelis and Palestinians and so an open and productive dialogue between equals can be straightforwardly fostered and will be effective.
- Fourthly, that a two state solutions is desired by the Israeli government and is still a feasible outcome.
BRICUP's response: Boycott for Peace; Divest for Justice; Sanctions for Liberty
Over 1000 UK based artists have signed a pledge to support Palestinian rights:
We support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. In response to the call from Palestinian artists and cultural workers for a cultural boycott of Israel, we pledge to accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.
New booklet on The Case for a Cultural Boycott of Israel
Jake Lynch, who last year defeated the case brought against him by anti-BDS law firm Shurat HaDin, is again in the crosshairs of the Israel lobby in Australia. After an incident at Colonel Richard Kemp’s appearance at Sydney University on March 11, false accusations of anti-Semitism were made against Lynch and colleagues present at the talk. While these charges have since been thoroughly debunked, and dropped by the Zionist press that first circulated them, the university is still pushing ahead with an investigation into Lynch and others. It will announce whether it will lay disciplinary charges against them on Thursday April 9.
Sydney Staff for BDS, is hosting an open letter to Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence, calling on him to reject these calls to discipline or sack staff involved in pro-Palestine activism at the University of Sydney.
The Business of Backlash: How wealthy zionists fund disruption of opposition to Israel on US campuses
IJAN, the International Jewish Anti-zionist Network has just published a detailed analysis of the individuals and foundations that are financing anti-Palestinian activity in the US, on campuses and elsewhere. The 120 page report includes five case studies on how disruption of campus campaigns were financed and organised; how donors pressurised universities; and the disinformatoin spread to undermine legitimate campaigns.
The report, which synthesizes thousands of pages of tax returns, demonstrates that a small handful of individuals, including right-wing donors Sheldon Adelson, the Koch Brothers, Newton and Rochelle Becker, the Sarah Scaife foundation and the Bradley foundation are responsible for a huge portion of this funding. These same donors, many of whom earned their wealth from or are invested in industries that profit from war and instability in the Middle East, are involved in attacks on other progressive causes.
Professor Farid Esak, a leading South African campaigner for Palestinian rights has approached BRICUP for help in getting people to support his protest against French attempts to stop him speaking. He wrote:
' My statement is self-explanatory. I require your support in getting the decision at the University of Paris 1 reversed and to put pressure on other French universities to not succumb to pressure from the pro-Israeli lobby to cancel my scheduled speaking engagements. This is the first time in my life that I am personally accused of anti-Semitism and so I feel really slighted. It is also about also about a bigger thing – the closing of intellectual spaces for people who believe that a particular religious or ethnic group, no matter how deep or genuine its historical wounds, should never be synonymized with an ideological invention.'
Students at the University of Sydney noisily, but non-violently, disrupted a talk by Gaza massacre apologist Colonel Richard Kemp. Members of the audience threw water a the protestors and kicked Professor Jake Lynch who intervened to try to halt the rough removal of the protestors by university security staff.
NSW zionist bodies and the Murdoch owned Australian then claimed that the audience were traumatised by the violence they were subjected to. Video evidence demonstrates that these claims are fictions and the protestors were clearly chanting against Israeli crimes and were not, in any sense, anti-semitic.
Students at McGill University in Montreal have ben campaigning for a divestment motion. This attracted the atention of Justin Trudeau. leader of Canada's Liberal Party. He claimed the campaign was anti-semitic.
Studnts and professiors a the university responded furiously condemning his attack on thier right to campaign in defence of Palestinian rights and his contempt for free speech.
Canadian students reject Justin Trudeau’s attack on Palestine activism, free speech - Electronic Intifada
Further evidence of the fragmentation of US Jewish opposition to BDS. The Wesleyan University, Conneticut, Jewish Community, in an act of open defiance against its parent-organization Hillel International, hosted a “Jewish Voice for Peace Shabbat” on February 27, according to a statement issued by Wesleyan’s “Open Hillel” chapter. The group Jewish Voice for Peace advocates for the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, and therefore is barred from all Hillel-affiliated events or institutions under the Hillel International “Standards of Partnership.”
Read fully story - Jewish Daily Forward
On Feb. 20, Northeastern University (Boston, USA) Students for Justice in Palestine received a memo from the student government cabinet disqualifying a proposed divestment referendum on the grounds that it would create a "hostile, threatening, intimidating, humiliating, or otherwise abusive environment" for students. We know that the opposite is true -- divestment is a time-honored, nonviolent tool to rectify gross injustice. The full student government will decide on March 16 whether to allow a divestment vote or not.
At the end of February Staff and Students at the prestigious London School of African and Asian Studies (SOAS) voted overwhelmingly to back the academic boycott of Israel. 73% of the over 2000 votes cast backed the boycott. They are calling on the School management to end its collaborative arrangements with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The campaign for a yes vote was backed both by UCU, the academics’ trade union, and UNISON, the support staff union as well as by the Student Union.
History of, and reports on, the campaign on Facebook
Israel gave binding undertakings when the EU allowed Israel as a non-EU
member to join the European Research area and share in EU research funding.
Israel agreed to respect "for human rights and democratic principles
which guide their domestic and international policies and are an
essential element of the Agreement."
BRICUP and our French partners AURDIP have written
to the EU commisioner for Research,
Innovation and Science pointing out the repeated examples of how Israel has breached their undertaking and demanding that Israel's participation in the ERA is suspended until it complies.
While Ohio State students are fighting their student government for their right to vote on divestment students at nearby University of Toledo overcame all the obstacles put in their path. Local and national Zionist organisations lobbied hard to stop their vote. They repeated the common slurs against BDS – that it was anti-Semitic; that it singled out Israel; and so on – but the student senate respected a 5400 signature petition and voted 21 to 4 to divest from companies which profit from Israeli violations of Palestinians’ rights.
Imperial College Islamic Society booked accomodation at the College for the 2015 Palestine Confererence wiht a range of repsected speakers including Mustafa Barghouti, Ilan Pappé and Ben White. At the last minute the College management cancelled the booking without providing any reason and the organisers had to post a Facebook notice announcing the change the day before the event.
The action by Imperial College follows on a similar move by the University of Rome III which denied an event’s organizers use of its prestigious Center for Italian and French Studies for a debate the use and abuse of identity in Europe and the Middle East, again due to feature Ilan Pappé. The debate was relocated to an alernative, less suitable, venue. While the University gave no substantive reason, a pro-Israel website, Informazione Corretta, claimed victory, stating that thanks to “friends in Rome,” the venue had been denied due to protests over its proximity to the city’s Jewish quarter.
The new venue was packed with a standing room only crowd, as was a last-minute overflow room, providing the opportunity to listen to an open debate in which Palestine was one issue in a wider conversation about power and knowledge.
In March 2005, the Arab Students’ Collective, a campus organisation at the University of Toronto, held a series of local events to support Palestinians and protest Israeli policies. Hoping to broaden debate at the end of the second Intifada and on the eve of Israel's redeployment of ground forces and settlers from the Gaza Strip, originally called "the separation plan," they called their proceedings Israeli Apartheid Week.
A decade on, their creation has become an annual and globally-recognised event. This year, it will feature cultural and educational events, as well as public protests in more than 200 cities on six continents.
“In the wake of Israel's massacre of Palestinians in Gaza, this year's IAW takes on even greater significance,” said Michael Deas, a London-based member of the IAW international coordination committee.
Ohio State Undergraduate Student Government Judicial Panel has invalidated OSUDivest's petitions for inclusion on the ballot through a technicality that has been unevenly applied to others on the ballot and has no bearing on the integrity of the signatures we collected or the integrity of the upcoming USG election.
The disqualification of our initiative from tomorrow's ballot is an attack on the more than 3,000 student voices that asked for this initiative to receive a fair hearing from our student body. That the Judicial Panel of USG delayed until the absolute, last possible moment to tell us about a perceived irregularity in our petitions, so that we had no time at all to defend ourselves or appeal the decision suggests this is not about technical violations of USG bylaws, but instead about a concerted effort to stop OSU students from voting on divestment.
Sign petition organised by OSUDivest
In a further move against supporters of Palestinian Rights the USG JP have informed the three Palestinian candidates for USG positions that they would also be removed for the ballot. The reason given by the JP was that they had not included their signatures on their nominating petitions, although they had already received approval to be on the ballot. Given the context of the decision, it clearly appears to be both retaliatory and discriminatory.
AURDIP COMMUNIQUÉ – We have just learned that, once again, the presidency of the University Paris 8/Saint-Denis decided, at the last moment, to ban a conference, this one entitled Israel apartheid is real [featuring Max Blumenthal and Bilal Afandi]. The conference intended to shed light on Israel’s apartheid policy toward the Palestinian people, a policy that AURDIP itself has constantly condemned. As a collective of academics, we are outraged by this attack on academic freedom, the freedom of expression, and the freedom of open debate. As defenders of human rights and the respect of international law, we wish to express our deep dismay at the complicit silence that the administration of the University Paris 8 aims to force upon its students and faculty. We demand that the president of this university reverse a decision that can only exacerbate tensions while pretending to calm them.
AURDIP has launched a petition opposing École Polytechnique's
links with Technion. École Polytechnique is one of France's leading
research universities while Technion, Israel's leading technical research
university which is heavily involved in developing drones and other
weapons and surveillance systems used in the attack on Gaza and supporting
The new double agreement involves the exchange of faculty and students and takes the first steps towards a joint masters level programme.
These agreements involve French academics in strengthening Technion’s weapons programmes and make the benefits of French research available to Technion for their own programmes.
Israeli universities are proclaiming how they have supported the attack on Gaza.
Tel Aviv University dean Yoav Ariel told his students “The university is proud of all its students and thanks those who did reserve service, I wish us all a swift return to our blessed routine.” The university had already announced last month that it would be providing one year of tuition stipends to soldiers.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem sent out a letter declaring “The university is joining the war effort to support its warrior students, in order to minimize the financial burden” on those who were called up to join the attack on Gaza. The university called on “friends and alumni” to donate to a special scholarship fund and links to a donation page that allows gifts to be earmarked for the “Protective Edge” fund.
On 11 August, Haifa Rector David Faraji wrote to soldiers informing them that “... blesses your return and expresses great appreciation for your activity and contribution within the framework of your service in Operation Protective Edge.” His letter provides “details of the adjustments and benefits that have been decided upon, jointly with the student union.”
“Warrior students”: How Israeli universities are supporting war crimes in Gaza - Electronic Intifada gives a fuler account of the actions of these and other Universities
Professor William Robinson of UC Santa Barbara was the target of a campaign of intimidation, silencing, and political repression that included techniques described in the "Hasbara handbook" by the Israel lobby for his support of BDS; in contravention of academic freedom and university rules.
"I may well have been run from the university if it were not for graduate and undergraduate students (together with a handful of committed colleagues), who early on in the persecution set up the Committee to Defend Academic Freedom that launched a worldwide campaign in my defense. This in turn sparked a good portion of the faculty into action, several months into the campaign of persecution against me, to defend my academic freedom. "
BRICUP is one of the organisations endorsing the cinema and media call for academic boycott. The statement has already attracted almost 150 signatures. This call follows on from calls by philosphers, Middle East studies and African studies academics, Spanish academics and the Critical Ethnic Studies and African Literature Associations since Israel launched its latest assault on Gaza.
This call further demonstrates the growing anger of academics worldwide at Israel's criminal activity, inflamed by events in Gaza but flowing from anger at the long history of occupation and blockade. The global academic community is stating clearly that it will not stand idly by but will actively support their Palestinian colleagues.
One of the reasons for the Academic Boycott is the way in which Israeli actions make normal university life impossible in Gaza and the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This account from Nazmi Al-Masri, a Professor of English at the Islamic University of Gaza, describes in detail how research and studying (and everyday life) are disrupted.
Imagine you are a Palestinian academic or a student - Mondoweiss
Over 100 philosophers and political theorists have issued a public call for the academic boycott. They say
"As academics, we specifically support an academic boycott, by which we mean a principled refusal to associate with Israeli academic institutions that have not explicitly condemned the occupation. The urgency of this measure is underlined by the fact that, so far, not a single Israeli academic institution has issued such a condemnation, and many have even made their support for the state's recent actions clear – witness the University of Tel Aviv's recent offer to waive a year's fees for students who served in the attack on Gaza, whilst threatening to discipline students for criticising Israeli forces on social media."
As members of the [Spanish] university community, we answer the call of Palestinian society and Palestinian universities for people and NGOs around the world to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. This is the most peaceful and effective way of making Israel comply with international law. The BDS campaign against Israel started in 2005 in response to Israel’s constant human rights violations and the lack of determination of other countries and international organisations to take effective action. The campaign is inspired by the successful experience of the international boycott of South Africa, which brought down apartheid. It has received the support of outstanding activists like the Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, progressive Jewish organisations such as the Jewish Voice for Peace and a growing number of Israeli academics. This shows how BDS is an effective way for us to put international pressure, through non-violent action, on Israel to respect Palestinian Rights.
African Scholars have added their voices to the call for Academic Boycott
"We, the undersigned African scholars and scholars of Africa, hold that silence about the latest humanitarian catastrophe caused by Israel’s new military assault on the Gaza Strip—the third and most devastating in six years—constitutes complicity. Member states of NATO which mounted an air war on Libya ostensibly to protect civilians in Benghazi have been by and large quiet about the fate of civilians in Gaza. World governments and mainstream media do not hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. We, however, as a community of scholars have a moral responsibility to do so. .."
Dr. Steven Salaita, a Palestinian American and world-renowned scholar, was fired from his new position at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) because of his public criticism of the U.S.-sponsored Israeli massacres in Gaza. He was also a prominent campaigner for the American Studies Association’s decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions last December.
Letter from BRICUP and AURDIP to the Chancellor of UIUC
Send an email to UIUC
Sign petition demanding reinstatement
Sign a call to people of conscience not to speak at the University of Illinois Urbana -Champaign
Academic heavyweights slam Univ. of Illinois firing of Steven Salaita for Palestine views - Electronic Intifada
A (poor) defence of the UIUC decision
Return of the blacklist? Cowardice and censorship at the University of Illinois - Salon
96 professors and staf fof of the IISS in the Hague have endorsed BDS and stated:
The example of the anti-apartheid struggles in South Africa shows that offending governments do not easily change their ways unless put under intense diplomatic pressure. It took decades of struggle to achieve the abolition of apartheid. What helped in this struggle was the work of countless numbers of individuals, organizations and institutions across the world, and in the Netherlands, that acted in solidarity with the oppressed. Equally important were the actions of world governments, including the Dutch Government, that took a stand against the oppressors. We therefore ask the Dutch Government to officially implement boycott, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel.
Over 100 Middle East Studies Scholars and Librarians Call for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions (now over 400)
Following in the footsteps of the growing number of U.S. academic associations that have endorsed boycott resolutions, we call on our colleagues in Middle East Studies to boycott Israeli academic institutions, and we pledge not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or to attend conferences and other events at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel. We call for doing so until such time as these institutions end their complicity in violating Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law, and respect the full rights of Palestinians by calling on Israel to:
- End its siege of Gaza, its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967, and dismantle the settlements and the walls;
- Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and the stateless Negev Bedouins to full equality; and
- Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
The Palestinian Boycott National Committee has issued a call for international support for the Saturday 9 August Day of Rage on Gaza: 'Take to the streets on Saturday 9 August with a united demand for sanctions on Israel'. As part of the call Palestinian trade unions are:
"calling on our brothers and sisters in the trade union movement
internationally to stop handling goods imported from or exported to
Israel. The trade union movement has a proud history of direct action
against Apartheid in South Africa, the Congress of South African Trade
Unions has joined us in the call for direct action to end Israel’s
The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, London has reponded to protests at the theatre last year against their hosting of the 2013 Israeli Film Festival. Indhu Rubasingham, artistic director of the Tricycle said in relation to their decisoin to withdraw form the 2014 festival, "The festival receives funding from the Israeli embassy and given the current conflict in Israel and Gaza, we feel it is inappropriate to accept financial support from any government agency involved."
The Tricycle Theatre is a leading London fringe theatre with a distinguished record of mounting radical plays.
The British NUS has long opposed BDS but in a dramatic reversal of policy it has agreed that it would support local student unions who “impose sanctions on Israel" and it would "support campaigns to boycott Israeli products on their university campuses.”
An NUS spokesperson said: "The motion passed by our national executive council commits us to ensuring that, as far as is practical, NUS does not employ or work with companies identified as facilitating Israel's military capacity, human rights abuses or illegal settlement activity, and to actively work to cut ties with those that do."
Report of decision in Jewish Chronicle
Unite, the largest UK trade union passed a resolution which commits it to develop a “campaigning and leverage strategy around BDS within the next 12 months" at its annual policy conference.
Tell the organisers of the 2015 Conference on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion don't go to Tel Aviv
It seems strange that a conference whose theme is 'dealing with diverse identities ' is planned to be held in Tel Aviv - unless the conference organisers believe that you best deal with diversity with bombs, shells and Apartheid walls.
Two further academic associations have followed the lead of the American Studies Association and endorsed the Academic Boycott.
The CES resolution "endorses and will honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Be it also resolved that the Critical Ethnic Studies Association supports the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Palestine and the state of Israel and in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement."
The ALA agreed "we are resolving to act against a state that has taken actions that have resulted in the dispersal of millions of Palestinian people around the Middle East and North Africa (including Egypt and Tunisia), that has targeted African refugees by placing them in internment camps indefinitely, and that has collaborated with authoritarian regimes in Africa, either by their work in extractive industries, or in the shipment of arms to repressive regimes. The resolution, like the long boycott of South Africa and of Southern Rhodesia, is intended to awaken the world’s conscience to a situation that must change."
The website of AURDIP, the French academic boycott campaign, has been attacked along with the sites of other French supporters of Palestinian rights. The campaigns have issued this statement:
Several websites of the Palestine solidarity movement have been attacked by a hacker who uses the pseudonym "Ulcan" and who has claimed responsibility on the internet for a number of these attacks. The sites in question belong to Agence Média Palestine, UJFP (French Jewish Union for Peace), CCIPPP (International Civic Campaign for the Protection of the Palestinian People), AURDIP (Association of Academics for the Respect of International Law in Palestine), the Platform of French NGOs for Palestine, the Collective 69 in support of the Palestinian people, and others. The attacks continue and this list is incomplete.
Moreover, we have learned in an article dated July 27 on the website of the newspaper Le Parisien that the same individual or group of individuals using the same pseudonym is responsible for hacking the website of Yann Galut, Socialist deputy for the department of the Cher. Galut is known for his active opposition to the extreme right and called for participation in the demonstration, held on July 23, and organized by the "National collective for a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians."
While the Israeli army is perpetrating war crimes in Gaza, and while the number of victims continues to grow, those who seek to bring an end to the massacre by mobilizing public opinion, and by using the elementary democratic rights of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, are coming under attack. We will not be reduced to silence, and we will use all available legal means to identify and punish those responsible for this crime.
- Agence Média Palestine
- Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine - AURDIP
- Campagne Civile Internationale pour la Protection du Peuple Palestinien - CCIPPP
- Collectif 69 de soutien au peuple palestinien
All the sites have been repaired and are now functioning normally.
Student workers union branch at University of Calafornia issue open letter in support of the academic boycott
The Joint Council of the UAW 2865, a body made up of 83 elected officers who oversee the affairs of the 13,000 member-strong student-worker union at the University of California, has published an open letter that outlines their intent to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against public institutions and corporations that profit from occupation and apartheid. This means that they will seek a full membership vote within the upcoming academic year in support of BDS. As academics, they are calliing upon members to honour the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
Palestinian trade union call for BDS actions by international trade unions as solidarity with Gaza workers
The Palestinian trade union movement, with support from with support from the Congress of South African Trade Unions and its affiliates, is unanimously calling on trade unions internationally to take immediate action to stop the Israeli massacre in Gaza and hold Israel to account for its crimes against the Palestinian people.
They ask us to consider the following actions:
- Stop handling goods imported from or exported to Israel,
- Divest your trade union pension — and other — funds from Israel Bonds as well as from corporations and banks that complicit in Israel’s occupation and human rights violations,
- Dissociate from Israeli trade unions which are complicit in the occupation
- Support our call for a military embargo on Israel
- Share information with your members about the siege and destruction of Gaza and ask your members to boycott Israeli products and to share their knowledge with family, co-workers, and friends.
Professor Martin Shaw has long been sceptical about boycotting Israel in general and the academic and cultural boycott in particular. Israel’s assault on Gaza has forced him to rethink his position.
In an essay on Open Democracy ‘Boycotting Israel: the situation has changed and I have changed my mind too’. He used to believe, ‘As an academic, I valued academic discourse and although I knew that Israeli universities were implicated in injustices against Palestinians, they were also disproportionately centres of debate and even opposition.’ But now he argues, ‘A boycott of Israeli institutions is a price they will have to pay to prevent a repeat of what we have seen over the last two weeks - or worse.’
The Israeli airforce launched a massive bombing attack on the Islamic University of Gaza causing extensive damage. The Israeli military claimed that the university housed “research and development of weapon manufacturing"”; this repeats the claims made in 2009 for the bombing of the university during Cast lead. This claim was investigated by the Goldstone Commission who reported that they “did not find any information about their use as a military facility or their contribution to a military effort that might have made them a legitimate target in the eyes of the Israeli armed forces."
If weapons development makes Universities legitimate targets for attack then Technion, Tel Aviv University and other Israeli Universities that celebrate their arms research may feel equally vulnerable.
Report from Ma'an News agency
Israel attacks my university — with bombs and lies: Electronic Intifada
The rectors of 112 Turkish Universities, appalled by the Israeli assault on Gaza, have issued a forceful declaration of support for the Palestinian people and resolved to take all possible action in their support. Inter alia they have declared they will:
- stop all kinds of academic, cultural and social relations with Israeli universities that do not blame the massacre of Israeli Government, until that inhuman massacre against our brothers in Gaza is stopped and Gaza blockade is removed,
- continue all kinds of academic, cultural and social relations with Israeli universities and Jewish academicians that react, raise their voice and protest against the massacre carried out by the Israeli government.
Over 1500 academics signed an open letter calling on their Israeli counterparts to "...to join your voices in an open and resounding protest about these war crimes by the Israeli government – your government. We urge you to stand up and be counted, to answer the call of your Gazan colleagues and make your voice heard. We hope that you will be able and willing to come together and voice your total opposition to the war crimes committed in your name! We realize you may feel worried and lonely, as dissent in Israel now carries a high price. We stand with you when you take this conscientious stand." 82 Israeli academics have responded to the call signed by such prominent intellectuals as: Prof. Noam Chomsky; Prof. Etienne Balibar; John Berger; Angela Davis; Naomi Klein; Prof. Richard Falk; Prof. Michael Rosen; Prof. Slavoj Zizek; and Prof. Jacques Rancière,
BRICUP welcomes the stand taken by these 78 who have braved an atmosphere of chauvinist intimidation. There must be many more who would like to sign but are too frightened not just for their jobs but for their personal safety if they take a stand. We are however aware that the public endorsers and the silent supporters together are a tiny proportion of Israeli academia. Meanwhile the leaders of many Israeli universities have announced rewards for those taking part in the onslaught on Gaza, and have taken disciplinary action against staff who have protested.
Israeli universities despite claims to the contrary made by opponents of the academic boycott are no havens of liberal dissent; their corporate complicity in the worst actions of the Israeli state entirely validates the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
The statement signed by the 78 reads:
The signatories to this statement, all academics at Israeli universities, wish it to be known that they utterly deplore the aggressive military strategy being deployed by the Israeli government. The slaughter of large numbers of wholly innocent people is placing yet more barriers of blood in the way of the negotiated agreement which is the only alternative to the occupation and endless oppression of the Palestinian people. Israel must agree to an immediate cease-fire, and start negotiating in good faith for the end of the occupation and settlements, through a just peace agreement.
If you are an Israeli acedemic who wishes to add their name to the statement please contact Prof. Rachel Giora with your name, title and affiliation.
Law professor Hanoch Sheinman wrote to his students saying “ [he hopes his message] finds you in a safe place, and that you, your families and those dear to you are not among the hundreds of people that were killed, the thousands wounded, or the tens of thousands whose homes were destroyed or were forced to leave their homes during, or as a direct result of, the violent confrontation in the Gaza Strip and its environs.” This innocuous expression of sympathy evoked a storm of protest from students, faculty and administrators according to a report in Ha'aretz.
Dean of the law faculty, Prof. Shahar Lifshitz, issued an urgent message to the students . “I was shocked to learn of the email sent to you by Professor Sheinman, it was a hurtful letter, and since this morning we have been justifiably flooded with messages from students and family members" despite going on to claim, "The faculty champions the values of pluralism, tolerance, and freedom of expression". Professor Lifshitz told students he would uphold freedom of expression promising that “the matter will be handled with the appropriate seriousness.”
Sheba, university-affiliated, hospital has rescinded the suspension of a Palestinian Israeli male nurse who sharply criticized the Israel Defense Forces on his Facebook page. The nurse had to apologize in writing to the hospital management
The nurse wrote on Facebook that “the Israel Defense Forces are war criminals, only killing innocent people, and the state is claiming [it is done] ‘by mistake and we are investigating the incident.’”
Australian academic boycott campaigner has won an important legal victory in his struggle against harrassment by Zionist lawfare organisation Shurat HaDin. Jake's legal team has released this statement.
In Federal Court today (24 April), Judge Alan Robertson struck out those parts of the claim that seek to underpin the factual basis of the allegations that Prof Jake Lynch has breached the Racial Discrimination Act.
He gave the applicants permission to re-cast those and any other paragraphs of the claim to rectify the defects of their case.
He ordered the applicants to pay Prof Lynch’s costs of the application brought to Strike Out the Claim and has given permission for those costs to be recovered now rather than at the conclusion of the proceedings.
He also ordered that Mr Hamilton and the other applicants undertake to the court within 21 days to not dispose of or encumber his Australian assets without notifying Prof Lynch (within 21 days). He will not require the applicants to establish a fund to secure any cost orders that may be made against them in the future. However, if that undertaking is not given he will make orders requiring the applications to give security for costs.
He has also ordered that the maximum costs, as they occur after 21 February 2014, payable to the successful party will be $300,000, subject to further order".
So - the issue has not gone away yet, but on several important legal points, the day went strongly in our favour. We are pleased and relieved!
It also alters slightly the gradient I am having to tread, in my effort to keep up with my legal bills – but only slightly. I still need your support! Any donation you can afford to give would be enormously helpful.
Northeastern SJP have sent out this message to supporters:
'Thanks to the absolutely relentless support we have received from around the world, Northeastern University has backed down on the suspension of Students for Justice in Palestine! We are reinstated and will be fully functional for the fall semester. This is a huge victory for free speech on campus, but also for the entire Palestine solidarity movement in the US. Our fight demonstrates that we will no longer tolerate discussions of Palestine and Israeli crimes being marginalized because some may disagree with us and use their power to try and silence us. Our message was heard at Northeastern loud and clear, so now let's spread it around the country. Viva Palestine!'
Students at the National University of Ireland Galway voted by nearly 2 to 1 in a vote of over 3000 to actively participate in the BDS campaign until Israel ends the occupation of Palestine and complies with its obligations under international law.
Dundee University Student Association endorsed BDS in a referendum by almost 3 to 1. As well as a general call to support BDS the vote called for a ban on selling any goods produced in settlements or by companies complicit in settlement activity. This follows an earlier vote by Dundee students to cut ties with G4S and an almost unanimous vote at the National Union of Students (Scotland) congress to affiliate to the Right To Education campaign, run by students at Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank.
A Land Day lecture by Mohammed Kena’ana at Tel Aviv University was cancelled after protests by student members of Right Wing and far Right parties. They forced the university administrators to retreat from their earlier commitment to free speech in a move praised by censorship promoting group, Im Tirzu.
Kena'ana had served a prison sentence for passing information to Hezbollah. Solidarity Against Fascism at TAU said, “It is a call against freedom of expression and pluralism, some of the most important values of a democratic society,...Kena’ana is a free Israeli citizen who has already served his sentence.”
Tel Aviv University cancels talk by Israeli Arab who served time for aiding Hezbollah - Ha'aretz
North American students continue to campaign to support Palestinian rights and promote BDS despite constant sniping from Zionists.
Call to create divestment committee passes at University of Michigan-Dearborn
Northeastern students rally against censorship and racism
Ryerson College, Toronto students vote for Israel divestment
DePaul University, Chicago students take a different approach to divestment
Anti-Boycott Resolution Rejected in Illinois State Senate Committee
Wesleyan Jewish students announce support for Open Hillel
Divestment bid at University of New Mexico fails by 12-7
Washington University, Missouri censors Palestinian poet and bans campus meeting on BDS
Hasbara courses are not unusual in Israeli universities
but previously they have been short courses outside the main programme.
Now Haifa University has launched as a four credit course, ‘Ambassadors
Online: Volunteering, Zionism, Digital Diplomacy’, to be offered
by the University’s Department of Multi-Disciplinary Studies to
prepare students to be unofficial “ambassadors” for Israel
on the Internet.
The lack of the critical approach to be expected of any legitimate university programme is apparent from the endorsements on the programme’s home page which include such propaganda organisations as StandWithUs and Birthright Israel and also the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Public Diplomacy & Diaspora Affairs.
In mounting this programme Haifa University further undermines those arguments against the Academic Boycott based on the claims that Israeli universities are independent of the state.
The ASA has flourished since its historic decision to support the academic boycott. Despite fierce attempts by Israel's supporters to demonise the ASA, attempts to encourage disaffiliations and legal threats membership is growing fast and membership revenue is at a 25 year high.
Academics for Palestine publish 'Academia Against Apartheid – The case for an academic boycott of Israel'
The Irish academic boycott campaign,
for Palestine, have published a new booklet 'Academia Against
Apartheid – The case for an academic boycott of Israel'.
This booklet provides an up to date case for the academic boycott
and provides effective rebuttals to the arguments made against
BRICUP organised an open letter to RIBA to express support for their decision to call for the bar on the Israeli architects' association.
In just a couple of days 77 signatures were collected including MPs; Peers; architects; academics; authors; musicians; actors and more.
The students' union of King's College London voted to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign at its Student General Meeting on 25 March by 348 votes to 252 The motion recalls how KCLSU took a stand against South African Apartheid in the 1980s. The motin calls for an invstigation of KCL's links with Israel and for the College "Israel and from companies directly or indirectly supporting the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies"
Jonathan Rosenhead and Sue Blackwell of BRICUP debated BDS at Leeds University on 19 March against Hugh Hubbard (Leeds UNiversity) and Robert Fine (Warwick University). The motion "This house believes that UK academics should join the movement for academic boycott by refusing to engage with any Israeli academic institutions until Israel ends the occupation and abides by international law.” was supported 53:37 before the speeches and by 68:23 after the debate. Over a third of the opponents of BDS changed their minds after hearing the arguments.
The 2014 Annual Congress of the University and College Union Scotland Congress (UCU Scotland) unanimouslyvoted on 28 March to condemn the planned visit by Israeli war criminal Tzipi Livni. The Israeli politician was given a rare diplomatic passport by the UK Government in 2011 specifically to protect her from the risk of arrest and prosecution for complicity in Israeli war crimes. Livni is planning to speak at a provocative Nakba Day meeting of the JNF (Jewish National Fund) at a secret central London venue on Thursday 15th May. UCU Scotland Congress called on Theresa May to refuse Livni entry to the UK. The JNF purchases land which it will then not allow Palestinians to purchase or live on. They are heavily involved in current efforts to dispossess the Bedouin of the Negev.
RIBA is the national professional organisation of British architects. Its council met on 19 March and passed a motion proposed by Angela Brady, former president of RIBA and backed by Architects and Planners for Justice for Palestinians (APJP). The motion was agreed by 23 to 16 with 10 abstentions after a heated debate. RIBA is the first UK professional association ot take action against Israel for its breaches of international law.
Since the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) has paid no regard to the UIA resolution 13 of 2005 and 2009, the RIBA calls on the UIA, as the international guardian of professional and ethical standards in our profession, to suspend the membership of the Israeli Association of United Architects, until it acts to resist these illegal projects, and observes international law, and the UIA Accords and Resolution 13.
Resolution 13 stated:
The UIA Council condemns development projects and the construction of buildings on land that has been ethnically purified or illegally appropriated, and projects based on regulations that are ethnically or culturally discriminatory, and similarly it condemns all action contravening the fourth Geneva Convention.