In a letter published in the Irish Times today (text below), 61 Irish academics from a wide variety of disciplines called for a moratorium on EU support of Israeli academic institutions until Israel abides by UN resolutions and ends the occupation of Palestinian territories.
The letter was organized in response to the Palestinian call for an academic and cultural boycott. The ongoing Israeli occupation has meant that educational establishments are closed off for many Palestinians. The checkpoints, closures and curfews Israel has imposed, as well as the ongoing harassment of academics and students, have played havoc with university life. In addition, military attacks on universities and schools and the occupation of many schools by Israeli soldiers have turned education into a life-threatening activity.
To date, 171 civil society organizations in Palestine including the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), the General Union of Palestinian Teachers (GUPT), and the Federation of Unions of Palestinian Universities’ Professors and Employees have called for a boycott of Israel, seeing such a boycott as a way for people around the world to express practical solidarity, and effect change in a nonviolent manner.
While this letter does not call for a comprehensive boycott, it does demand that European academic institutions cease funding collaborative projects with Israeli institutions. It also calls for academics to refrain, where possible, from institutional collaboration with Israel. Such actions are to continue until Israel abides by international law, part of which is ending the occupation.
Such a moratorium is not directed against individuals but against Israeli institutions which provide support – both moral and practical – for a racial system within Israel and an illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. The comparison is with South Africa. Just as blacks in South Africa called for sanctions against that country, so have Palestinians under Israeli control called for sanctions against the Israeli state and its institutions. It is no coincidence that modern day South Africans are among the strongest supporters of actions that will peacefully end the brutal racially-based regime in Israel, just as the apartheid regime was toppled.
Groups across the world have heeded the Palestinian call for an academic boycott. The British Academic union NAFTHE recently supported the academic boycott of Israel, followed by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). On July 10th, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), explicitly drawing on their own struggle against apartheid, called for a boycott of Israel. Moreover in Ireland, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has already adopted a position of supporting political and economic sanctions on Israel – a position taken at its biennial conference in 2005. Irish parliamentarians too, at a specially convened meeting of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs on August 4th, unanimously called for the imposition of sanctions on Israel.
TEXT OF LETTER WITH SIGNATORIES
Madam – There is widespread international condemnation of Israel’s policy of violent repression against the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and its aggression against the people of Lebanon. The Israeli government appears impervious to moral appeals from world leaders and to longstanding United Nations resolutions.
We feel it is time to heed the Palestinian call to take practical action to pressure Israel to comply with international law and basic human rights norms. Many national and European cultural and research institutions, including those funded by the EU regard Israel as a European state for the purposes of awarding grants and contracts.
We call for a moratorium on any further such support to Israeli academic institutions, at both national and European levels. We urge our fellow academics to support this moratorium by refraining, where possible, from further joint collaborations with Israeli academic institutions. Such a moratorium should continue until Israel abides by UN resolutions and ends the occupation of Palestinian territories.
- Hounaida Abi Haidar, Department of Geography, TCD
- Dr Kieran Allen, School of Sociology, UCD
- Professor James Anderson, School of Geography, Queen’s University Belfast
- Professor Ivana Bacik, School of Law, TCD
- Ken Bond, Department of Zoology, Ecology & Plant Science, UCC
- Professor James Bowen, Department of Computer Science, UCC
- Dr Barbara Bradby, Department of Sociology, TCD
- Harry Browne, School of Media, DIT
- Noreen Byrne, Department of Food Business & Development, UCC
- Dr Joseph Cleary, Department of English, NUI Maynooth
- Professor John Coakley, School of Politics and International Relations, UCD
- Dr. Steve Coleman, Department of Anthropology, NUI Maynooth
- Denis Condon, Centre for Media Studies, NUI Maynooth
- Dr Laurence Cox, Department of Sociology, NUI Maynooth
- Dr Colin Coulter, Department of Sociology, NUI Maynooth
- Professor Seamus Deane, Institute for Irish Studies, University of Notre Dame
- Mary Eldin, WERRC, School of Social Justice, UCD
- Dr Nazih Eldin, Head of Health Promotion, Dublin North East
- Dr Adel Farrag, Department of Electronic Engineering, Institute of Technology Tallaght
- Professor Tadhg Foley, Department of English & Chair of the Board, Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway
- Catherine Forde, Department of Applied Social Studies, UCC.
- Dr Kathy Glavanis, Department of Sociology, UCC
- Professor Luke Gibbons, Department of English, University of Notre Dame
- Dr Brian Hanley, Department of Modern History, TCD
- Dr Deanna Heath, Department of Modern History, TCD
- Conn Holohan, School of Media Studies, University of Ulster
- Marnie Holborow, School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies, DCU
- Dr Kevin Hourihan, Department of Geography, UCC
- Dr Carole Jones, Department of English, TCD
- Sinead Kennedy, Department of English, Mater Dei Institute of Education
- Dr Heather Laird Department of English UCC
- David Landy, Department of Sociology, TCD
- Dr Steve Loyal, School of Sociology, UCD
- An Dr. Seosamh Mac Muiri, Rannog na Gaeilge, Roinn na dTeangacha agus an Leinn Chultuir, Ollscoil Luimnigh.
- Dr. Breandan Mac Suibhne, Institute for Irish Studies, University of Notre Dame
- Professor Brian Maguire, Faculty of Fine Art, NCAD
- Professor John Maguire, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, UCC
- Dr Sandra McAvoy, Women’s Studies, UCC
- Piaras Mac Einri, Department of Geography, UCC
- Dr Conor McCarthy, Department of English, NUI Maynooth
- Dr Cathal McCall, School of Politics, International Studies & Philosophy, Queen’s University Belfast
- Caroline McHugh, Department of Geography, NUI Galway
- Dr Des McGuinness, School of Communications, DCU
- Dr Bill McSweeney, Irish School of Ecumenics, TCD
- Montserrat Fargas Malet, School of Social Work, Queens University Belfast
- Dr John Nash, Department. of English, TCD
- Dr Emer Nolan, Department of English, NUI Maynooth
- Dr Feilim O hAdhmaill, Department of Applied Social Studies, UCC
- Garrett O’Boyle, Political Scientist
- Dr. Eamon O Ciardha, School of Languages and Literature, University of Ulster
- Gearoid O Cuin. Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway
- Dr Ruan O’Donnell, Historian
- Professor Patrick 0’Flanagan, Department of Geography, UCC
- Professor Denis O’Hearn, School of Sociology, Queens University Belfast
- Dr Lionel Pilkington, Department of English, NUI Galway
- Jim Roche, Department of Architecture, DIT
- Dr. Ailbhe Smyth, WERRC, School of Social Justice, UCD
- Dr Andy Storey, Centre for Development Studies, UCD
- Dr Gavan Titley, Centre for Media Studies, NUI Maynooth
- Dr Hilary Tovey, Department of Sociology, TCD
- Dr Theresa Urbainczyk, School of Classics, UCD
David Landy works in Trinity College Dublin where he is researching networks of Israel-critical Jewish groups in the Diaspora.