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Academics for Palestine in Ireland launch campaign

Palestine: Academics for Palestine in Ireland launch campaign, publicise Irish links with Israeli military and security firms

Julie Webb-Pullman note: Academics for Palestine in Ireland held a Press Conference this morning to launch a campaign called Academia Against Apartheid. 138 Irish academics, on the back of the vote by the Teachers Union of Ireland, have signed a document pledging to boycott academic institutions and individuals who are involved actively or passively in Israel's illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

Irish signatories were joined in the Press Conference by two scholars, Palestinian Dr Ghada Karmi of the University of Exeter, and Professor Haim Bresheeth of the School of Oriental and African Studies London, an Israeli. Both academics called for civil society to create awareness of the oppression of Palestinians by the state of Israel, and to join the boycott until Israel observes international law in this regard.

A video of the press conference can be found here http://vimeo.com/87223754

The Press Release accompanying the launch is below.

Press Release from Academics for Palestine: Irish academic researchers collaborated in EU-funded projects with Israeli counterparts who make drones, develop high-tech weapons and engage in “counter-terror” activities with the Mossad, it was revealed today.

In all, Irish universities have collaborated with Israel in 257 projects to date, seven of them listed as “security” and 13 as “aerospace”. These EU research programmes are administered by Irish Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

The information on Irish-Israeli research links was gathered through the examination of publicly available EU documents by members of Academics for Palestine (AfP), a new organisation launched today in Dublin.

The group supports an academic boycott against Israel. Its chair, Jim Roche, said the daily discrimination inflicted on Palestinian academics was enough to justify such a boycott, but added: “The revelations of Irish academia’s collaboration with companies closely linked to Israel’s military-industrial complex are truly shocking.

“What is surprising is that a non-European country, Israel, actually receives more research and development funding from the EU than many European countries do,” Roche said today. “It is not just Israeli universities that avail of this funding, but Israeli security and military companies – and they are often the lead partner in a research consortium.”

“This is, by not very roundabout means, the EU funding the Israeli occupation apparatus,” Dr Andy Storey, UCD lecturer in politics and international relations, said at today’s launch.

Researchers at the University of Limerick collaborated with an Israeli security company, Athena GS3-Security Implementations Ltd, on an EU-funded programme worth almost €4 million from April 2009 to March 2011. (The project researched digital support systems for first responders.) Athena, on its website, claims to be a world leading counter-terror advisory group with indigenous expertise from the Mossad and other elite Israeli counter terrorist units.

UL also partnered with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). IAI are key players in the development of security and surveillance for Israel’s separation wall, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.

Other academics, at Trinity College Dublin, have worked with Israeli drone manufacturers Elbit Security Systems and two other Israeli firms in an airport security project, still ongoing, and on a separate project with Israel’s notorious International Security and Counter-Terrorism Academy.

Researchers at UCC actually coordinated a recently completed counter-terrorism project to improve the detection of traces of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) alongside Israel’s major weapons developer, Technion.

“Some Irish universities may be effectively contributing to the denial of Palestinian human rights and academic freedom by collaborating with these Israeli security companies in EU-funded FP7 and Horizon 2020 programmes paid for by European, including Irish, taxpayers,” Roche said.

138 Irish academics have signed a pledge, organised by AFP, to boycott such collaboration with Israeli institutions until Palestinian rights are respected.

The signatories come from a wide range of disciplines and include many well-known names, such as Seamus Deane, Ailbhe Smyth, Luke Gibbons, Ronit Lentin, Joe Cleary, Kieran Allen, Kathleen Lynch, Tadhg Foley, Terrence McDonough and Helena Sheehan. At least one of the signatories has previously withdrawn from an EU-funded project because of Israeli involvement. The full list of signatories can be viewed here.

Dr Ghada Karmi, a Palestinian doctor of medicine, scholar and lecturer at the University of Exeter, emphasised that the international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) does not target Israeli individuals but institutions. Far from being a threat to academic freedom, she said at today’s launch, BDS affirms its importance for Palestinians.

“Israel’s well-documented repression of Palestinian academic life and victimisation of Palestinian teachers and students is a scandal to be denounced by all those who claim to care about academic freedom,” she said.

Dr Conor McCarthy, lecturer in English in NUI Maynooth and a long-time campaigner for Palestinian rights, welcomed the initiative.

“The recent endorsement of the boycott campaign by the 5,000-member American Studies Association in the US, along with positive moves by the Modern Language Association and the controversy over Scarlett Johansson, showed that BDS is now very much part of a mainstream international debate,” Dr McCarthy said today.

Nearly a year ago the Teachers Union of Ireland, which represents lecturers at institutes of technology across the State, became one of the first academic unions in the world to endorse the boycott.

“The US, EU and other states have protected Israel and financed its occupation ever since 1967, making it impossible to resolve the conflict through the UN or international diplomatic channels,” Prof Haim Bresheeth, an Israeli film-maker and scholar, said. “It puts a special responsibility on international civil society, and BDS is its main tool to resolve the conflict in a just and peaceful way.”

The text of the boycott pledge reads:

“In response to the call from Palestinian civil society for an institutional academic boycott of Israel, we pledge not to engage in any professional association with Israeli academic, research and state institutions and with those representing these institutions, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”

Links to Projects Referenced in this Press Release:
http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/94264_en.html
http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/104785_en.html
http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/90304_en.html
http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/75799_en.html
http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/72822_en.html
http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/89907_en.html

ENDS

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