See below for a letter sent by Academics for Palestine to Chaplains in Trinity College Dublin regarding the upcoming “staff peace pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine” which is an exercise in ‘normalisation’, that aims to create a false equivalency between the occupier and occupied, whitewashing the Israeli occupation and depicting it as a ‘conflict’ between two warring nations.
TO: Peter Sexton, S. J.
Alan O’Sullivan OP
Rev. Julian Hamilton
Academics for Palestine is a group of academics working in Irish institutes of higher education north and south committed to supporting Palestinian universities, academics and students and to upholding the academic boycott of Israel, as requested by Palestinian civil society organizations. It has come to our knowledge that you plan to organize a staff peace pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine and we would like to ask you to reconsider your plans for the reasons elaborated below:
- The position of Palestinian Christians : Kairos, a group of Christian Palestinians who monitor the suffering of Palestine’s 50,000 Christians in the occupied Palestinian territory (3,000 in Gaza) under the Israeli occupation. Kairos describes the conditions of Christians in Palestine derived from living with the Israeli-built ‘separation wall’ that has turned Palestinian towns and villages into prisons, and with the siege of Gaza that keeps its population in dire need and separate from other Palestinians. The Palestinian reality, according to Kairos, means that Israeli settlers ravage Palestinian land in the name of God and in the name of force, controlling natural resources, including water and agricultural land, depriving hundreds of thousands of Palestinians of their livelihood. It also means daily humiliation caused by military checkpoints and the bureaucracy of the occupation, the deprivation of religious freedom and the prevention of access to holy places for both Christian and Muslim Palestinians, including barring clergy from entering Jerusalem.
- The fallacy of the ‘peace process’, which does not ensure justice for Palestinian people under Israel’s occupation. The absence of any vision or spark of hope for peace and freedom pushes many young Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian, to emigrate
- Palestinian civil society objection to all projects of normalization which whitewash the Israeli occupation and depict it as a ‘conflict’ between two warring nations. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) defines normalization “as the participation in any project, initiative or activity, in Palestine or internationally, that aims to bring together Palestinians (and/or Arabs) and Israelis (people or institutions) without placing as its goal resistance to and exposure of the Israeli occupation and all forms of discrimination and oppression against the Palestinian people.” This is the definition endorsed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee (BNC)
- And finally, the collaboration by Israeli academic institutions with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and with Israel’s armament and security industries and the collaboration of Irish academic institutions in Israel’s arms trade and thus its war and occupation, as detailed in Academics for Palestine’s brochure.
We would ask you to reconsider your plans for a ‘peace pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine’ and to uphold the academic boycott of Israel and support Palestinian Christians in their struggle against the Israeli occupation. Instead we would like to suggest you contact Kairos who is running projects of responsible tourism to the Holy Land. We look forward to hearing from you.
Academics for Palestine