Statement from Academics for Palestine in Support of Professor Moshe Machover

Standard

We in Academics for Palestine have been following with interest the events in the UKs Labour Party – in particular, charges of antisemitism against Labour Party activists who support Palestinian rights and/or are critical of Zionism/Israel and its methods. The slur of antisemitism is being used to shut down criticism of the State of Israel and its criminal actions, and through so doing, to evade accountability.

The latest episode in this saga has resulted in the expulsion from the Labour Party of our esteemed academic colleague, Professor Moshe Machover on spurious grounds and without due process. An intellectual, an Israeli and a Jew, but perhaps most significantly, an outspoken anti-Zionist, Professor Machover has a long and honourable record of standing for justice and against Zionism’s oppression and the crimes of the Israeli State. This position is part of a wider anti-imperialist and anti-racist stance by Professor Machover.

Machover’s expulsion is a worrying development for a number of reasons: it indicates a tacit acceptance by the British Labour Party of the conflation of antisemitism and antizionism – an entirely false equivalence being actively promoted for political ends; by following Israel’s agenda, the Labour Party has shown itself as being open to inappropriate political influence; it attempts to legitimise the political persecution of critics of Zionism and the State of Israel and has profound implications for freedom of speech and political thought – the bedrock of democracy. That the UK’s Labour Party would act as a proxy for the harassment of an Israeli Jew who criticises Israel would be farcical were it not so serious.

We write to lend our support to our colleague Professor Moshe Machover, to demand that he be reinstated with reparation made for the outrageous slur on his good name, that this witchhunting within the Labour Party is ended immediately. Further, we demand that a review is undertaken of the influence of Israel and its supporters within the party, particularly where Israel’s interventions overstep the bounds of acceptable diplomacy and instead constitute illicit political interference.

Academics for Palestine.
23 October 2017

Advertisements

Book Launch: ‘Balfour’s Shadow: A Century of British Support for Zionism and Israel’ by David Cronin

Standard

balfshad-188x300The Dublin branch of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign in association with Academics for Palestine is honoured to host the launching of Irish journalist David Cronin’s new book, ‘Balfour’s Shadow: A Century of British Support for Zionism and Israel’ (Pluto, 2017). Join us to hear from David on Monday 23rd October 2017, at 7pm in The Teachers’ Club, 36 Parnell Square West, Dublin 1.

Copies of the book will be available to buy at the event and David will be happy to sign them after his talk.

PLEASE JOIN, SHARE & INVITE YOUR FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK, THANKS!

About the Book

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.”

This is the infamous Balfour Declaration, which began one hundred years of conflict with the Palestinian people. Penned in 1917 by British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour, these words had an immense impact on history that still emanates a century later. In the controversial, fast-paced Balfour’s Shadow, David Cronin traces the story of the rhetorical and practical assistance that Britain has given to the Zionist movement and the state of Israel since that day. Skillfully and engagingly written, Balfour’s Shadow uses previously unreleased sources and archives to reveal a new side to an old story. Cronin focuses on important historical events such as the Arab Revolt, the Nakba and establishment of the state, the ‘56 and ‘67 wars, the Cold War, and controversial public figures like Tony Blair. Marking the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, Cronin provides a fascinating take on this oft-maligned, important history.

About the author

David Cronin is an Irish journalist and author who reports on the EU from Brussels. He has written for The Irish Times, The Guardian, Inter Press Service, TheJournal.ie, Electronic Intifada and others. His previous books include Corporate Europe: How Big Business Sets Policies on Food, Climate and War (Pluto, 2013) and Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occupation (Pluto, 2010).

Tim Llewellyn, former BBC Middle East Correspondent
“Cronin describes vividly how, by deception, Britain’s imperial designs and perceived need for international Jewish support in wartime gave birth to the Balfour Declaration of November 1917, which handed Arab Palestine to the Zionist Movement, as a ‘Jewish national home’ or Jewish state. Cronin examines Britain’s continuing pernicious, deadly and lucrative relationship with Israel, its political support for Israel’s war crimes, and theft of Arab land and the mutual arms trade.”

Nur Masalha, editor of Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies
“It is not surprising that each year the November anniversary of the Balfour promise is celebrated by British friends of Israel and mourned by millions of dispossessed Palestinian refugees. Speaking the truth about the catastrophic consequences of British support for Zionism, this amply documented book shows how Britain erected and for decades maintained the scaffolding that gave birth to a settler-colonial state in Palestine and the Palestinian Nakba. Acknowledging Britain’s moral responsibility towards the Palestinians is a key message of this timely and courageous book. A must read for those seeking truth and reconciliation in the Middle East.”

Organised by Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign in association with Academics for Palestine.

Lecture by Dr. Nizar Ayoub: The Syrian Golan – 50 Years Under Occupation

Standard

marsad

When: Friday 6th October, 1pm – 2pm
Where: Trinity College Dublin, Irish School of Ecumenics, G6

Nizar Ayoub is the principal founder of Al-Marsad (Arab Human Rights Centre in the Golan Heights) and has served as Al-Marsad’s Director since 2012. Nizar obtained an M.A in International Law from the Institute of Foreign Relations and International Law, at Kiev National University in 1992, and a Ph.D in International Law from the Institute of State and Law, at the Russian Academy of Sciences, in Moscow in 1998.

Nizar specializes in legal research and training in the fields of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Nizar is a human rights activist and a member of Israel Bar Association. He worked with Al-Haq, a leading Palestinian human rights organization in Ramallah from 2000-2011, as a lawyer and legal researcher.

Nizar has published several studies on the legal status of the occupied Arab territories since 1967 with a special focus on Jerusalem. In 2014 Nizar served as a consultant to the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Organised by the Irish School of Ecumenics in Trinity College Dublin and Academics for Palestine.

Steven Salaita Dublin Lecture: ‘Why Palestine Is Everyone’s Moral Issue’

Standard

FBcover

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in association with Academics for Palestine, are honoured to present a public talk by renowned Palestinian-American author and intellectual Steven Salaita. The event will take place on Tuesday 12th September 2017 at 7.30pm in The Academy Plaza Hotel, 10-14 Findlater Place (off Cathal Brugha Street), Dublin 1 (map here). Admission free.

In this talk, Steven Salaita will explore why Palestine is one of the world’s most pressing moral issues and argue that a liberated Palestine is everybody’s concern.

PLEASE JOIN & SHARE THE EVENT ON FACEBOOK, THANKS!

About the speaker

Steven Salaita is an American scholar, author and public speaker formerly the Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut. His books include Modern Arab American Fiction: A Reader’s Guide (2011), Israel’s Dead Soul (2011), Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom (2015), Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine (2016).

Organised by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign in association with Academics for Palestine.

Call for Papers- Freedom of speech and Higher Education: The case of the academic boycott of Israel.

Standard

Trinity College

Trinity College Dublin, 12 September 2017

Conference announcement and call for papers

Academic freedom includes the liberty of individuals to express freely opinions about the institution or system in which they work, to fulfil their functions without discrimination or fear of repression by the state or any other actor, to participate in professional or representative academic bodies, and to enjoy all the internationally recognized human rights applicable to other individuals in the same jurisdiction.  The enjoyment of academic freedom carries with it obligations, such as the duty to respect the academic freedom of others, to ensure the fair discussion of contrary views, and to treat all without discrimination on any of the prohibited grounds (UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, “The Right to Education (Art.13),” December 8, 1999)

Questions of freedom of speech have been to the forefront in contemporary academic debate. Historically, universities have always provided space for critical thinking and engaged civil society activism. In recent years there has been much discussion about how neoliberalism in higher education has affected academic freedom and the expression of dissenting and controversial views. The conference examines these effects with particular reference to academic boycotts in general, and in particular the controversies surrounding the academic boycott of Israel.

There have been claims that austerity and the cuts in public funding for the higher education sector have led to universities responding by:

  • Changing university culture to emphasise training for the job market at the possible expense of broader educational goals
  • Hiring increasing numbers of temporary, adjunct and precarious academic staff
  • Placing greater emphasis on research funding from public, EU and private sources, leading to increasing pressure on academics to seek and compete for scarce financial resources
  • A greater reliance on managerialism, cost cutting and bureaucratic measures which put greater administrative pressure on academics

This response may result in stifling critical thinking, dissent and freedom of expression by academics and students and lead to self-censorship and curtailing expression on controversial topics. Today’s public university culture is shifting from one based on ‘the liberal university’ to one focused on a business model, the provision of training and resource management, all of which narrows the space for the exchange of ideas and for freedom of expression.

This has thrown into sharp relief a constant question for academics as to whether their role encompasses or precludes political activism – whether homo academicus should also be homo politicus. With growing global political polarisation, this question has returned to the spotlight with academics under fire for expressing political opinions in Turkey, the US and elsewhere.

The case of the academic boycott of Israel

Rather than examining these issues on either an abstract or an anecdotal level, the conference focuses on the hotly contested issue of academic boycott, as this offers a paradigmatic example of how controversial topics are dealt with by the contemporary university and of the effects of the neoliberalisation of the public university on academic freedom.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was initiated in 2004 to contribute to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. It advocates for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions for their deep and persistent complicity in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights – including academic freedom – that are stipulated in international law. Across the world, academics and students have responded to the Palestinian call for boycott by refusing to cooperate with Israeli higher education institutions on grounds of conscience. This stance has inevitably caused controversy in universities globally.

Since the academic boycott is a controversial topic, one would expect those who support the boycott to be challenged. However, the challenge rarely comes from within the world of ideas and is usually offered through a mixture of ‘lawfare’, bureaucratic strictures, threat to employment and disciplinary measures. In other words, the academic boycott of Israel is an arena in which disciplinarity – rather than the ideals of the liberal university – is brought to bear. While this is an unsatisfactory way of dealing with controversial topics, the question remains as to how university administrators and academics can best facilitate the free exchange of ideas in this arena.

Keynote speakers at the conference are Steven Salaita (Author of Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom, Steven was denied a Professorship in University of Illinois due to his views on Israel/Palestine and will speak on “Freedom to boycott:  BDS and the modern University”),  Kathleen Lynch (Chair of Equality Studies, UCD, specialising in neoliberalism and educational policy and theory), and John Reynolds (Department of Law, Maynooth University, specialising in international law and critical legal studies)

Call for papers

The conference does not propose to debate the pros and cons of the academic boycott of Israel but rather to make links and draw lessons about the role of the public university in fostering academic freedom, and the freedom to express critical, even if controversial views. We are inviting proposals for papers by academics at all levels as well as graduate students, university administrators and members of student groups and professional academic associations.

The conference will be interdisciplinary, situated between law, the arts, social sciences and humanities  and will seek to include academics from Ireland and abroad, as well as university administrators and academics with practical experiences of the issues surrounding academic freedom in higher education.

We are inviting proposals for papers on:

  • Academics as political actors and advocates
  • Challenges to academic freedom and the freedom to dissent
  • The practice of academic boycott and academic freedom
  • The effects of ‘lawfare’ and disciplinary measures on support for the academic boycott of Israel
  • Links between academic precarity, managerialism and disciplinarity
  • Comparisons with previous academic boycotts, such as the boycott of Apartheid South Africa

We invite abstracts (up to 250 words) on any of the themes above or addressing related themes you feel deserve consideration. Abstracts should include a title, your email address and institutional affiliation if any (independent scholars are welcome to submit). Please send abstracts to David Landy at <sept12tcdconference@gmail.com> by 1 July 2017.

Conference information

Detailed information will be made available in due course, but this will be a one-day conference on 12 September 2017 at Trinity College Dublin, with a public lecture the evening before. The conference is hosted by the MPhil in Race, Ethnicity and Conflict in the Department of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin. Trinity was an early and important supporter of the academic boycott of Apartheid South Africa and remains well known for its liberal stance and openness towards diverse and dissenting voices.

Following the conference, the organisers intend to produce an edited collection of the papers in the form of either an edited book or a journal special issue

Dr David Landy, MPhil in Race, Ethnicity, Conflict, Trinity College Dublin

Dr Ronit Lentin, Associate Professor (retired), Sociology, Trinity College Dublin

Dr Conor McCarthy, School of English, Maynooth University

AFP letter in the Irish Times + great Op-Ed in defence of Academic Freedom

Standard

1280px-ireland_victor_grigas_2011-19

Two items of interest were published in today’s Irish Times. The first, a letter from Academics for Palestine, concerning the ‘International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism’ conference due to take place in Cork University which is now under threat from outside forces.

Letter Text:

Sir, – Academics for Palestine, a group of academics working in Ireland in support of Palestinian universities and academics, notes with the greatest concern reported attempts by the Israeli embassy to prevent University College Cork hosting the conference “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism” (“UCC conference on Israel sparks row with Israeli embassy”, January 10th).

The conference is being jointly organised by Palestinian and Israeli academics and offers a vital examination of how Israel operates, particularly in relation to international law.

The conference was scheduled to be held in the UK in 2015 but was thwarted following a high-profile campaign by the pro-Israel lobby that branded the event as “legitimising anti-Semitism” and pulled by Southampton University, citing security reasons.

Behind the effort to jeopardise the conference is the Israeli government and its multimillion battle against what it calls “delegitimisation”. A new ministry was set up as part of the effort.

Delegitimisation is considered any effort to raise awareness of the plight of the Palestinian people, criticising Israel’s policies and actions, and calling for accountability for Israel’s breaches of international law.

A recent Al Jazeera investigation has exposed interference by the Israeli embassy in internal British politics and universities, including planning to “take down” a senior member of the government, ousting the leader of the National Union of Students, and demonising advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

It comes as no surprise that similar attempts are being made in Ireland to shut down spaces for debate and attack the work of advocacy groups such as the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Trade Union Friends of Palestine that had their bank accounts closed in the past year without adequate explanation.

A cornerstone of our democracy is freedom of speech. In the interests of academic freedom, open debate and indeed justice, it is crucial that this conference goes ahead as planned without interference. – Yours, etc,

Dr RONIT LENTIN, Chairwoman, Academics for Palestine; Dr DAVID LANDY, Dr IAIN ATACK, Dr YASER ALASHQAR, ELAINE BRADLEY, CIARAN O’ROURKE, Trinity College Dublin; Dr CONOR McCARTHY, Dr SINEAD KENNEDY, Maynooth University; Dr PAOLA RIVETTI, Dublin City University; Dr PETER COLLINS, St Mary’s University College, Belfast;
HARRY BROWNE, JIM ROCHE, Dublin Institute of Technology; ZOE LAWLOR, University of Limerick.

===

The second is an Opinion piece by Dr. John Reynolds of Maynooth University, who writes in strident defence of academic freedom and the right to ask awkward questions of Israel, and every other state. The piece can be read online here ‘Questioning the state of Israel is not anti-Semitic’, and below is an excerpt.

“This year marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration committed Britain to facilitate the aims of Zionism in Palestine, 70 years since the UN plan to partition Palestine, and 50 years since Israel initiated its military occupation of the remaining Palestinian territories.

The legacies and structures of Israel’s founding dispossession can be no more immune from analysis than those of the extermination and enslavement upon which the United States was built, the forced labour and patriarchy which underpin several Gulf monarchies, or any other forms of institutional discrimination. Scholarly analysis of state structures that constitutionally privilege one particular group of citizens over another is far from equivalent to inciting hatred against individuals or communities on the basis of their group membership.”