Palestinian academics have cordially welcomed a decision by the largest university and college lecturer’s union in the United Kingdom to boycott Israeli academics and institutions that refuse to publicly condemn Israel’s decades-old occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Under the boycott, union members will not submit articles to Israeli research papers and exchange programs with Israeli academic institutions involved directly or indirectly in consolidating Israeli persecution of Palestinians will be frozen.
“This is certainly a very important decision. It shows that there are still people in this world who are willing to say ‘no’ to oppression, racism and apartheid. I salute my British colleagues and I hope this boycott will spread through the European mainland,” said Samir Awadh, Professor of Political Science at Bir Zeit University.
Awadh opined that the decision, adopted by the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) can be equated in its moral symbolism with the decision of the International Court of Justice in the Hague in 2004 which ruled that the Separation barrier Israel has been building in the West Bank was illegal and ought to be dismantled.
Awadh said he hoped the decision would make Israeli academics and universities reconsider their support for or silence toward Israeli repression of the Palestinian people.
Awni Khatib, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Hebron also lauded the NATFHE’s decision, calling it “a glimmer of hope and a specter of light in a world that is increasingly overwhelmed by coercion, oppression and brute force.”
“Israel practices military occupation in its most sinister and evil forms.
Israel is systematically waging a slow-motion genocide against millions of defenseless people by barring them from accessing work and food.
Khatib rejected arguments by some Israeli academics that Israeli universities and academic institutions had nothing to do with Israeli policies and practices in Occupied Palestinian Territories.
“This is not true, Israeli universities and colleges assume an effective role in dehumanizing and tormenting the Palestinian people.
Some of the Israeli universities actually train Shin Bet (Israel’s main domestic security service) agents in applying physical and psychological torture on Palestinians,” he said.
“Every Israeli academic institution,” Khatib said,”is responsible for the prolongation of this nefarious reign of terror by Israel against the helpless Palestinians.” The boycott, according to Prof.
Assad Ghanem, Head of the Department of Government and Contemporary Political Thought at Haifa University, is unlikely to have a profound effect on Israeli academic institutions.
“You know the Israeli academia’s movement is toward America, not Europe, but this is not to say that the boycott is insignificant.” Ghanem said he supported a boycott of all individuals and institutions that support the occupation, but I am against boycotting those peace-minded Israeli academics who speak up against the occupation and write against the occupation.
These are our natural partners for peace and equality.” Ghanem pointed out that the boycott was the accumulative fruit of many people.