There can’t be many universities around the world where an occupying army has built a firing range on campus. But that is the reality for Palestine Technical University in the West Bank.
Since October, the Tulkarm campus has been under repeated attack by Israeli forces, with student demonstrations suppressed by rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas – and even live ammunition. In an approximately six week period, 350 students were injured by the Israeli army. Read more
On Tuesday, October 27, a full-page advertisement appeared in The Guardian, announcing the support of more than 300 UK-based scholars for an academic boycott of Israel. A week on, the list of supporters had grown to some 600.
Criticism from the usual suspects was immediate, with condemnation by the Israeli embassy in London, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC). Opponents of the boycott also expressed themselves in various op-ed columns and on The Guardian’s letters page.
Here I will suggest responses to the most common arguments advanced by critics of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, and specifically its academic component. Read more
Just over a decade ago, there was no such thing as “BDS”. Many Palestinians and their allies have, of course, urged a boycott of Israel for decades. However, it is the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, launched 10 years ago today, that has proved to be a game-changer. Read more
As Israeli politicians ramp up the rhetoric against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, two reports have suggested that much worse is in store for the movement which advocates economic and cultural disengagement from Israel.
First came a secret, Israeli government report obtained by business newspaper Calcalist. The internal document looked at the potential future impact of BDS on the country’s economy – and the results are striking. Read more
A report by UNESCO has documented the “material, human and educational damage” sustained by Gaza’s higher education institutions (HEIs) during Israel’s assault last summer. The UN agency’s conclusion: that “higher education institutions were directly targeted during the hostilities.”
Israel’s “failure to treat learning environments as safe spaces and protect universities from attack”, UNESCO states, constituted “a serious violation of the right to education and is prohibited under international law.” Read more
Last month at the University of Leeds, a debate was held on the boycott of Israel. The specific motion read: “This house believes that UK academics should boycott Israeli academic institutions until Israel ends the occupation and abides by international law”.
Arguing for the motion were Jonathan Rosenhead and Sue Blackwell, both active members of British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP). Against them were Robert Fine and Hugh Hubbard, the former an active campaigner against the boycott of Israel. In the pre-debate vote, the motion was backed 53-37. By the end of the debate, that had shifted to 68-23 in favour of academic boycott, a clear majority. Read more
As the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, launched by Palestinian groups in 2005, has grown, some strategies and targets have attracted more controversy than others. The academic boycott campaign is one which is still rejected or viewed with ambivalence by some who would otherwise support other forms of boycott, such as goods produced in West Bank settlements.
Before looking at the specifics of the case for an academic boycott, it is important to place it in the context of BDS as a whole, a campaign the tactics of which are increasingly adopted internationally in response to a call from Palestinians for civil society action to help end Israeli impunity and contribute to the realisation of the Palestinians’ rights. At the heart of BDS is the reality of Israeli apartheid and exclusionary policies, a direct link between these crimes and the need for accountability, and the principle of international solidarity. Read more