AFP letter Re: Minister of State John Halligan’s meeting with the Israeli Minister of Education

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Re: Minister of State John Halligan’s visit to Palestine-Israel and meeting with the Israeli Minister of Education Naftai Bennett

Dear Minister Halligan,

We write with regard to your trip to Palestine-Israel and, in particular, the disturbing report of your appointment to meet Israel’s Minister for Education Naftali Bennet. We call on you as a representative of the Irish people to honour our government’s commitment to human rights and international law by  refraining from any co-operation or joint projects with Israel’s Ministry of Education for reasons we expound below.

As a group of academics and educators working in Irish institutions of higher education, north and south, we are committed to positively supporting Palestinian universities, staff and students who are enduring the systematic destruction of their educational endeavours under Israel’s regime of apartheid, occupation and on-going colonisation of Palestinian lands in contravention of international law.

Israel’s educational institutes play a key role in its crimes, in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “Israeli Universities are an intimate part of the Israeli regime, by active choice. While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation.”

  1. Israeli higher education institutions collaborate with the occupation

Israel’s security forces are heavily dependent on innovatory technological developments that facilitate the occupation. Academic institutions including the Technion, Tel Aviv University, Bar Ilan University, the Herzlia Interdisciplinary Centre, the Holon Institute and the Weizmann Institute conduct research and assist in manufacturing armaments and security equipment including drones, remote controlled D9 Bulldozers used to demolish Palestinian homes, unmanned combat vehicles, electro-optics and robotic devises, all of which facilitate – through innovation and technology – the operation of the occupation and the exportation of armaments to the extent of $7 bn per annum  (http://www.alternativenews.org/).

  1. Israeli universities support soldiers and discriminate against Palestinian academics and students

All Israeli universities support student-soldiers and give extra credits, grants and additional exam dates to serving reservists, and have special education programmes for serving soldiers, officers and veterans. Israeli academic institutions discriminate against Palestinians citizens who make 20.7% of the Israeli population: in 2011-12 only 1.4% of senior faculty in Israel’s academic institutions were Palestinians; Palestinian students make up 9.4% of BA students, 8% of MA students and 4% of PhD students. Israeli academic institutions have appointed several high-ranking former IDF and Security Agency (Shin Bet) officers to academic positions despite the conflict of interest (http://www.sikkuy.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/nohad_ali_hebrew1.pdf).

  1. Israel jeopardizes Palestinian education

According to National Students for Justice in Palestine (http://www.nationalsjp.org/education-under-occupation.html), Palestinian Universities have endured an acute degree of suffering under the Israeli occupation. The repression of academic life in the occupied Palestinian territories is part of a concentrated and systematic political effort of the Israeli government to attack the means of development of Palestinian society. Palestinian universities and schools are regularly closed by the Israeli military and students and academics have huge difficulties to reach their classes due to the separation wall and the many checkpoints throughout the occupied West Bank. During the last Israeli attack of Gaza in 2014, the Islamic University was bombed as were many schools.

  1. Israel regularly detains Palestinian children

According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem: ‘By the end of September 2016 414 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli prisons as security detainees and prisoners, including 13 administrative detainees. Another 7 Palestinian minors were held in Israel Prison Service facilities for being in Israel illegally. The IPS considers these minors – both detainees and prisoners – criminal offenders’ (www.btselem.org/statistics/minors_in_custody).

Academics for Palestine supports the Palestinian Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI) which has denounced the complicity of Israel’s academic institutions not only in developing weapon systems and military doctrines deployed in Israel’s recent war crimes in Gaza, but also in justifying the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land and gradual ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians, and in providing moral justification for occupation and siege as well as extra-judicial killings and indiscriminate attacks against Palestinian civilians (http://www.pacbi.org/). 217 Irish academics have signed the pledge to boycott Israeli academic institutions (https://academicsforpalestine.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/the-irish-academics-pledge-to-boycott-israel/) in response to the request by Palestinian civil society organizations.

Academics for Palestine believe that a meeting between the Irish Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation and the Israeli Minister for Education who heads an extreme right wing party and has expressed disturbing extremist and racist views, including statements against any possibility of a Palestinian state or a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians, is at best ill advised. Treating Israel as a ‘normal’ state with whom Ireland can cooperate on innovation and education is anathema to our country’s avowed commitment to human rights and justice.

Enclosed is a pamphlet produced by Academics for Palestine for your further information and consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Ronit Lentin
Chair
On Behalf of Academics for Palestine

Audio: Launch of ‘Return: A Palestinian Memoir’ by Ghada Karmi

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ghadawebOn September 8th last, Academics for Palestine and our colleagues in the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign were honoured to host the amazing Palestinian academic, author and activist Ghada Karmi in Dublin. Taking time out of a conference in Trinity College Dublin, Ghada launched her latest book ‘Return: A Palestinian Memoir’ in Wynn’s Hotel to a large and rapt audience. Gahda was in conversation with well-known academic and journalist Harry Browne, who is also a member of AFP, and took questions from the audience.

audioThe IPSC has kindly made a recording of the evening available for those who couldn’t make it along, via their wonderful Palestine Podcast series. Please click here to listen to the recording.

Dr. Anaheed Al-Hardan: The Catastrophes of Today and the Catastrophe of 1948 in Syria

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Below we are pleased to link to an essay from Dr. Anaheed Al-Hardan, author of the new book Palestinians in Syria: Nakba Memories of Shattered Communities, taken from the Columbia University Press website. Dr. Al-Hardan launched her book at an event sponsored by Academics for Palestine in association with the Department of Sociology in Trinity College Dublin on Thursday 20th October 2016.

You can buy copies of the book here (Colombia University Press) and here (Amazon).

audioLISTEN: While she was in Ireland, Dr. Al-Hardan was also interviewed on Dublin South FM. You can listen to the full interview by clicking here (audio courtesy of DSFM).

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The Catastrophes of Today and the Catastrophe of 1948 in Syria

Yarmouk Camp in Damascus is today unrecognizable even to those who knew the camp’s every alleyway and corner. The rubble, the ruins of bombed buildings, tired and hungry people, and haunted alleyways and streets are the painful remains of a shattered community. Yarmouk is not the only Palestinian locality in Syria, of course, but it was in many ways the Palestinians’ social, cultural, political, and even symbolic heart. It has therefore become emblematic of the catastrophe of the Palestinians in Syria whose communities may neither survive nor heal.

Book Launch: Palestinians in Syria by Anaheed Al-Hardan

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The launch of ‘Palestinians in Syria: Nakba Memories of Shattered Communities’ by acclaimed Palestinian sociologist Anaheed Al-Hardan.

Thursday, October 20th, 7pm, Ui Chadhain Theatre, Arts Block, Trinity College Dublin

Hosted by Academics for Palestine, in association with the Department of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin

All welcome

One hundred thousand Palestinians fled to Syria after being expelled from Palestine upon the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Integrating into Syrian society over time, their experience stands in stark contrast to the plight of Palestinian refugees in other Arab countries, leading to different ways through which to understand the 1948 Nakba, or catastrophe, in their popular memory.

Conducting interviews with first-, second-, and third-generation members of Syria’s Palestinian community, Anaheed Al-Hardan follows the evolution of the Nakba—the central signifier of the Palestinian refugee past and present—in Arab intellectual discourses, Syria’s Palestinian politics, and the community’s memorialization. Al-Hardan’s sophisticated research sheds light on the enduring relevance of the Nakba among the communities it helped create, while challenging the nationalist and patriotic idea that memories of the Nakba are static and universally shared among Palestinians. Her study also critically tracks the Nakba’s changing meaning in light of Syria’s twenty-first-century civil war.

Anaheed Al-Hardan is an assistant professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies at the American University of Beirut. She serves on the advisory board of the Palestinian Oral History Archive at AUB and is a policy member of al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network. Her book Palestinians in Syria has been shortlisted for the 2016 Middle East Monitor Palestine Book Awards. Her new research examines Arab decolonial theory within the context of south-south philosophies of liberation and decolonization

David Lloyd: On the malevolence of occupation and necessity of BDS

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David Lloyd, the Distinguished Professor, poet, activist and signatory to both the Irish Academics’ and Irish Artists’ pledges to boycott Israel, has a wonderful piece entitled ‘The Malevolence of Occupation’ in the new issue of the Dublin Review of Books. Below is an excerpt, you can read the full piece here.

Above all, boycott is an instrument of civil society. We call for a boycott when the means to redress an ongoing injury are denied by the legal or political institutions that ought to intervene. In December 2009, Israel launched its catastrophic “Cast Lead” assault on Gaza ‑ as it would again in 2012 and 2014. Before it was over, Israel had killed some 1,400 Gazans, mostly civilians with nowhere to hide and no means of escape. At the height of this indiscriminate slaughter, the US House and Senate passed a resolution in support of Israel’s campaign that was mendacious in almost every clause, including blaming Hamas for this long-planned and disproportionate assault. Only four courageous representatives dissented. Given such lock-step support of Israel, even as the IDF was pursuing what the UN’s Goldstone report would later establish was a criminal and utterly asymmetrical war on an imprisoned population, it became apparent that American ‑ or European ‑ institutions would never hold Israel accountable without some countervailing pressure from grassroots social movements.

That’s why, in January 2009, a handful of US-based scholars launched the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Boycott, as we understood it, was not simply an expression of our very lively disgust at Israel’s indiscriminate and overwhelming slaughter. It was, first and foremost, a response to the call from Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel (BDS), directed not to the powers that had consistently and for decades failed them, but to global civil society. We committed to helping shape a social movement that would breach the blockade on achieving justice for Palestinians that Israel and its well-funded lobbies had for generations maintained.

[Dublin] An evening with GHADA KARMI to launch her new memoir ‘Return’ (IPSC & AFP)

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On Thursday September 8th 2016 you are invited to spend an unforgettable evening with acclaimed Palestinian author, academic and activist Ghada Karmi as she launches her latest book, ‘Return: A Palestinian Memoir‘ (Verso, 2016).

The event, jointly hosted by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Academics for Palestine, will take place in the Ballroom in Wynn’s Hotel, 39 Abbey Street Lower, Dublin 1 at 7pm. Entry is free.

Ghada Karmi will be in conversation with well-known academic and journalist Harry Browne, and there will be time for questions from the audience.

PLEASE JOIN & SHARE THE EVENT ON FACEBOOK HERE.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase on the evening and the author will be pleased to sign them.

About the Book

An extraordinary memoir of exile and the impossibility of finding home, from the author of ‘In Search of Fatima‘ (Verso, 2002) and ‘Married to Another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine‘ (Pluto, 2007)

“The journey filled me with bitterness and grief. I remember looking down on a nighttime Tel Aviv from the windows of a place taking me back to London and thinking hopelessly, ‘flotsam and jetsam, that’s what we’ve become, scattered and divided. There’s no room for us or our memories here. And it won’t be reversed.’”

Having grown up in Britain following her family’s exile from Palestine, doctor, author and academic Ghada Karmi leaves her adoptive home in a quest to return to her homeland. She starts work with the Palestinian Authority and gets a firsthand understanding of its bizarre bureaucracy under Israel’s occupation.

In her quest, she takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the heart of one of the world’s most intractable conflict zones and one of the major issues of our time. Visiting places she has not seen since childhood, her unique insights reveal a militarised and barely recognisable homeland, and her home in Jerusalem, like much of the West Bank, occupied by strangers. Her encounters with politicians, fellow Palestinians, and Israeli soldiers cause her to question what role exiles like her have in the future of their country and whether return is truly possible.

Praise for the Book

“Not just life writing but writing that is alive. With perfectly attuned fidelity to the experiences it narrates, it offers a deeply engaged and engaging meditation on what it means to stay together as a people. Revolving this question in ways both existentially Palestinian and universally human, it is a literary memoir to be placed alongside those of Mourid Barghouti and Mahmoud Darwish.” – Caroline Rooney, Professor of African and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Kent

“’In Search of Fatima’ was a beautifully written and moving narrative… Return is both a sequel and a stand-alone memoir.” – Avi Shlaim, The Guardian

“Personal, warm and accessible, Return describes a life trajectory that captures the story of modern Palestine in a most unique and sensitive way. Beautifully written, it brings to the fore the human being behind the colonized, occupied and fragmented realities of present-day Israel and Palestine. It is an individual journey into the heart of the occupation’s darkness, where people, and not abstract ideas, are struggling with the impossibility of leading a normal life, or any life at all.” – Ilan Pappe, author of The Idea of Israel

“Eloquent and moving.” – David Shulman, New York Review of Books

Organised by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Academics for Palestine.

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Hundreds of academics call for boycott of genocide conference in Israel

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In a letter to the International Network of Genocide Scholars (INoGS), 270 academics from 19 countries have called for the cancellation of the 5th Global Conference on Genocide taking place on 26-29 June at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The letter sent to the organizers of the conference on the 3rd of May points at the hypocrisy of having the conference in Israel at a time when Israel’s actions are “increasingly being viewed through lenses of ethnic cleansing and genocide linked to settler colonialism”. The signatories call on scholars and professionals to boycott the conference should it go ahead.

John Dugard, former UN Rapporteur for Human Rights in the OPT and a signatory to the letter, commented: “There are serious allegations that Israel committed crimes against humanity in its 2014 assault on Gaza. In these circumstances it is highly inappropriate to hold a conference on genocide in Israel.”

Citing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, the letter expresses shock “that INoGS plans to hold its 2016 Global Conference at the Mt. Scopus campus of the Hebrew University that is partially built on stolen Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem”. The INoGS conference website bills Jerusalem as part of Israel, defying international consensus on the issue and ignoring Israel’s ongoing and systematic campaign of displacement of Palestinians from the city.

According to Professor John Docker, who has written extensively in the fields of genocide and massacre studies, “Genocide studies is now, it seems clear, actively seeking opportunities to be complicit in Israel’s flouting of international law, not least the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

INoGS did not respond to the joint letter and it had ignored an earlier appeal by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

Dr. Haidar Eid, a member of PACBI, said: “I am an academic living in besieged Gaza. I have witnessed three massacres committed by Israel, I almost lost my own life and saw my comrades, colleagues, relatives, and students perish in them.  I have read with agony the names of 44 of our students and colleagues who lost their lives and 66 families wiped out by Israeli weapons. INoGS is lending its name to the perpetrators of these crimes in a move that is not unlike holding a conference on racism in apartheid South Africa.”

The conference is sponsored by five Israeli academic institutions, including the Hebrew University, which have been deeply complicit in Israel’s decades-long oppression of Palestinians. Thousands of academics in the UK, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, US and Brazil have signed national pledges to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The pledges are part of a growing movement to hold Israeli universities accountable to their role in systematic Israeli state violence against the Palestinian people.