Students at Palestine Technical University in the Occupied West Bank face an unusual challenge in pursuit of their studies: the Israeli military has built a training facility on campus. The university may be the only one in the world where an occupying army has not only built a firing range on campus, but also regularly shoots and detains student protesters; in one six week period recently, some 350 Palestinian students were injured by the Israeli army. Read more
Posts tagged ‘universities’
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
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 students begin a new academic year, there are signs that pro-Israel propaganda initiatives at Britain’s universities are being given a boost. The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) has established a new role within the organisation of “Israel Engagement Officer”, a post being taken up by Canadian Beca Bookman. Bookman comes with considerable experience in working with the Israeli government to undermine Palestine solidarity, and is a past recipient of a “Hasbara in Action” award from the Menachem Begin Foundation. Read more
The majority of Israeli academics do little to support the rights of Palestinians, and their institutions are complicit in the occupation.
Steve Caplan believes that calls for the academic boycott of Israel, part of the wider Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign, are hypocritical and counterproductive. Leaving aside his Israel advocacy “talking points” version of history, Caplan’s argument has three significant flaws.
First, his only really substantive case against the boycott as a tactic is the claim that it is “aimed at the very segment of the population” – those in academia – who back Palestinian statehood and “compromise”. Read more