Since 2014, about 400 academics in or from Ireland have signed a pledge, organised by Academics for Palestine, to support an academic boycott of Israeli institutions until Palestinian rights are respected – more than a third signing up in May 2021 alone. 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 Sindy Joyce, 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 At least one of the signatories has previously withdrawn from an EU-funded project because of Israeli involvement. Note that this is a boycott of institutions rather than individuals: under the guidelines agreed by Palestinian civil-society organisations, mere affiliation of scholars (Israeli or otherwise) to an Israeli academic institution is not grounds for applying the boycott. More information about the boycott and those guidelines can be seen here.
(If you have filled in the form but are not yet on the list, check your Inbox and spam folder for a ‘verification’ request, or just email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. Students on taught programmes are not ‘academics’ for the purpose of our published list, but we welcome contact from students and student organisations and have many on our mailing list.)
At the time of the launch of the Irish academic-boycott campaign in 2014, 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, said “the 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 other controversies show 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.”