Academics for Palestine – Press Conference (20/02/2014)

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Video from the launch of Academics for Palestine on Thursday 20th February 2014.

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Irish links with Israeli military and security firms revealed

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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 (Israel’s spy organisation), 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 are contributing to the denial of Palestinian human rights and academic freedom by collaborating with these Israeli security companies under the cloak of EU-funded FP7 and Horizon 2020 programmes paid for by European, including Irish, taxpayers,” Roche said.

Almost 140 Irish academics have signed a pledge, organised by AFP, to boycott such collaboration with Israeli institutions until Palestinian rights are respected.

Irish Academics’ Pledge to Boycott Israel

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On February 20th 2014, 138 Irish academics (now 221) signed a pledge, organised by Academics for Palestine, to support an Academic Boycott of Israel until Palestinian rights are respected. The pledge reads as follows:

“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.”

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.

See the full list of signatories here.

Note: If you are an academic based in Ireland and would like to sign the pledge, please contact us at: academicsforpalestine@gmail.com

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 says 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”.

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

In April 2013, 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.

According to Prof. Haim Bresheeth, an Israeli film-maker and scholar, “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. 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.”

Academia Against Apartheid – The case for an academic boycott of Israel

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pdflogRead the pamphlet, Academia Against Apartheid – The case for an academic boycott of Israel, here

Responding to the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, a group of concerned academics in Ireland has begun a campaign to urge Irish-based academics to support the boycott, which is intended to last until Israeli academia ends its complicity in – and in many cases its active support for – the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, its role in the unequal treatment of Israeli citizens whose ethnicity is Palestinian, and its support for illegal settlements that usurp lands in the occupied West Bank and in Jerusalem.

This information booklet explains the origin of the academic boycott campaign and explores its rationale by addressing frequently asked questions about the campaign. It explains what the boycott entails and the kinds of actions it excludes. For example, the boycott is directed at institutions but not at individual academics. The booklet also includes a section on the framework of European Union funding which aids Israel’s military-industrial complex, and information on a number of weapons-related projects that Irish universities are implicated in through their collaboration with Israeli companies. Although a full list of such egregious collaborations is not available, we hope that by launching this campaign, the lid will be lifted on the extent of Irish academic support for Israel’s occupation and its system of apartheid. Lastly, we provide a list of suggested actions that academics can take to advance the boycott.

pdflogRead the pamphlet, Academia Against Apartheid – The case for an academic boycott of Israel, here