Academics declare mass boycott of Israeli universities despite ‘the pressures that can be put on people not to criticise the state of Israel’

October 27, 2015


c3 2 statement343 university lecturers in subjects including chemistry, mathematics and political science, from 72 institutions, including Oxford, Cambridge, the LSE and University College London are to boycott Israeli universities in protest at their “deep complicity” in their government’s “violations of international law”.

Making their boycott in an individual capacity, they said that they would not accept invitations for academic visits to Israel or co-operate with Israeli universities in any way because they were “deeply disturbed by Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land”.

They also accused the Israeli government of “intolerable human rights violations that it inflicts on all sections of the Palestinian people, and its apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement”.

The boycott has appeared as an advertisement in The Guardian today.

The Times’ Social Affairs Correspondent Rosemary Bennett continues:

“Speaking on behalf of the signatories, Jonathan Rosenhead, from the LSE, said that Israeli universities were “at the heart of Israel’s violations of international law and oppression of the Palestinian people . . . Israel’s ongoing oppression of Palestinians has led tens of thousands of Palestinians to take to the streets in mass protest”. In the Guardian he added: He said: “These signatures were all collected despite the pressures that can be put on people not to criticise the state of Israel. Now that the invitation to join the commitment is in the public domain, we anticipate many more to join us.

“Rachel Cohen, an employment expert and senior lecturer at City University, said that the Israeli state presented itself as an “enlightened funder of academic pursuits yet it systematically denies Palestinian academics and students their basic freedoms, such as the freedom of movement necessary to attend international academic conferences, or simply to get to lectures on time.”

“Other signatories include the philosopher Ted Honderich, professor emeritus of the philosophy of mind and logic at University College London, and Conor Gearty, professor of human rights law at the LSE”.

The letter, which – as an Israeli site says – follows one seeking to promote coexistence and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, partly to counter cultural boycotts of Israel, emphasised that the boycott was not against individuals and that the academics would “continue to work with our Israeli colleagues in their individual capacities”.

Ms Bennett reports that Richard Verber, senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, questioned why academics were singling out Israel “in such a discriminatory fashion”. He told Jewish News: “At a time of immense, often barbaric upheaval in other parts of the Middle East, Israel remains a beacon of academic excellence and progressive thinking.”

But readers of this website could remind him of wholesale acts of barbarism, carried out by Israeli settlers and government- sanctioned military action.