We are collecting signatures from academic workers to stop collaboration between Catalonian and Israeli scientific institutions! If you agree with the postulates (below in English), please visit the website and sign.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Desmond Tutu, South African Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” Nelson Mandela
In November 2013, representatives of Catalan research institutes, including the CRG, travelled to Israel with the President of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Artur Mas, to sign an accord with the Israeli government to build close academic links with major Israeli universities. Shortly afterwards, a pamphlet was distributed at the CRG PhD symposium detailing the complicity of Israeli universities in the 47 year-old military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. In this context you are asked to support the campaign for academic boycott of Israeli universities, called for by Palestinian civil society organisations and universities as an international, democratic and non-violent means of applying pressure on Israel to end the occupation.
In 2005, 170 Palestinian civil society organisations launched an appeal for international civil society to support a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel in the economic, cultural and academic spheres. This campaign is modelled after the international boycott movement in the 1980s against the South African apartheid regime.
To date, almost 600 academics in Spain, including more than 200 from universities just in Barcelona, have signed a manifesto in support of the academic boycott. Those who wish to stand with them in solidarity with the Palestinians can sign here:
Despite the Israeli government and its supporters cynically attempting to portray the BDS campaign as anti-semitic, the campaign is explicitly anti-racist and calls for an end to military occupation, for respect for the rights of Palestinians and for fair and equal treatment of all people, regardless of race. As such, the boycott targets complicit institutions, NOT individuals.
Academic boycott does NOT mean discriminating against Israeli staff or students, invited speakers from Israel or collaborations with individuals or groups in Israel. Israel is undeniably a leader in research and the work of our Israeli colleagues is highly valued. Rather, formal institutional links of exactly the kind the Generalitat plans for the CRG and other Catalan institutes are the target of the academic boycott movement. Guidelines for employing the boycott can be found here.
Opponents will also claim that singling out Israel for boycott over human rights violations is unfair. However this view ignores that boycott is the preferred means of nonviolent resistancethat Palestinian civil society and universitiesexplicitly call for in the face of colonisation, brutality and oppression. This argument also fails to recognise boycott is a tactic suited to specific situations, not a universal principle.
Boycotts and sanctions are commonly employed by governments, including the Israeli government, to penalise states which disregard international law and human rights. However, as western governments are reluctant to take action against their ally Israel, it falls upon civil society, and therefore each and every one of us, to take action.
Indeed, the international boycott movement continues to grow. Stephen Hawking joined several academic associations in the US in respecting the boycott in 2013. The boycott is supported by some Jewish and Israeli organisations and even some courageous Israeli academics, further discrediting the previously mentioned claims of anti-semitism.
This is not about politics. It is about human rights.
700,000 Palestinians imprisoned (including many children) and thousands killed by the Israeli military since 1967 is a violation of the right to life and liberty. Widespread torture (including of children) in Israeli jails is a violation of the prohibition of torture. 25,000 homes demolished constitutes arbitrary deprivation of property. Israeli policies which keep familiesdivided are a violation of the right to family. Arbitrary closures, raids and bombings of schools and university campuses, as well as harassment and detention of students, deprives young Palestinians of their right to education.
In the West Bank, the daily humiliation of millions of Palestinians at military checkpoints and their exclusion from Jews-only roads is a violation of the right to freedom of movement. Segregation is enforced by the Separation Wall, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice. A civilian tribunal, composed of veteran statespeople, lawyers and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, found that Israeli policies in Israel and the Occupied Territories constitute the international crime of apartheid. In the West Bank two justice systems exist for two people living in the same land.
In Gaza, the situation is even worse. Since 2007, a medieval siege has turned Gaza into the largest prison camp in the world. While citing “security”, the Israeli government have banned import of musical instruments, paper and fabric for clothes, and also severely restricted the flow of humanitarian aid. Israeli officials admit the goal is to “put the Palestinians on a diet”. To make matters worse, the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2008 killed almost 1,500 Palestinians, including more than 300 children, and wounded 5000.
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References (linked in text)