In 2014 Israel’s attack on Gaza, misleadingly called Operation Protective Edge, killed thousands of Palestinians. One of the responses to that outrage was the Commitment by UK Scholars not to cooperate with Israeli academic institutions. Over seven hundred academics signed up to this Commitment.
In the wake of another bloody assault in May 2021, we are now asking you, if you are a UK academic, whether currently employed or not,
- to make this commitment; and
- to contact your networks and your academic and teaching friends, your work colleagues and your associates, to sign too.
The Commitment is not just a response to military attacks. It is motivated by deep concern for Palestinians, including Palestinian academics, struggling to sustain a semblance of normal life and professional practice in the intractably difficult circumstances of occupation, and the denial of basic human rights. Israel attempts to smother Palestinian universities with a network of restrictions on internal movement, on entry and exit permits, on the acquisition of equipment, etc.
There is no need to feel helpless in the face of these injustices, even though they proceed with impunity due to the apathy or complicity of world powers. Academics have a particular moral and practical power which can help shift the dynamics at work in Israel’s relationship with the outside world. We can strengthen moves towards equality, freedom and justice for Palestinians.
Given the punitive destruction of Gaza’s social fabric in the weeks of May 2021, the further ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem, the assault on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, and the attacks by mobs on Palestinians in Israeli cities, we surely have a duty to offer that support.
The Commitment does not commit us to severing contacts with individual Israeli academics. In accordance with the appeal from Palestinian civil society, it exclusively targets Israeli institutions.
The Commitment for Human Rights in Palestine
As scholars associated with UK universities, and responding to the call from Palestinian civil society, we declare that we will not:
- accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions;
- act as referees in any of their processes;
- participate in conferences funded, organised or sponsored by them, or otherwise cooperate with them.
We will, however, continue to work with our Israeli colleagues in their individual capacities.
This commitment is our response to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, and the intolerable human rights violations inflicted on all sections of the Palestinian people. We will maintain this position until the State of Israel complies with international law, and respects universal principles of human rights.
A full statement of the case for an academic boycott is available in the booklet Why Boycott Israel’s Universities? published by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) see: http://www.bricup.org.uk/documents/WhyBoycottIsraeliUniversities.pdf