A Palestinian academic union urges British colleagues to back a boycott in support of 'our struggle for justice'
It has sometimes been suggested that solidarity with Palestinian academics is best expressed in fostering academic links between British and Palestinian universities, with the aim of strengthening the capacity of Palestinian academic institutions that have suffered from the long siege imposed by Israel's colonial regime.
It is the duty of civil society to shoulder the moral responsibility of isolating Israel in the international arena through various forms of boycott and sanctions to compel it to obey international law and respect Palestinian rights.
"Constructive engagement" with the Israeli academy is often suggested to us as a more effective mechanism to address the injustice inflicted upon us by Israel. We have tried this method, only to realise that as long as the terms of the relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians are those of occupier and occupied, and oppressor and oppressed, the engagement process only results in normalising the occupation on the ground and whitewashing Israeli atrocities abroad.
I can give an example from my own personal experience. Once, as I was crossing one of the hundreds of military checkpoints on my way to my university, I was stopped by an Israeli soldier who turned out to be a fellow mathematician at an Israeli university. But our collegiality ended here: he told me that I could cross the checkpoint if I was able to answer a mathematics question correctly! What kind of engagement can be possible here?
BRICUP - British Committee for Universities of Palestine
UCU Congress endorses boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel despite legal warning
Boycott campaign "now reaching critical mass" say activists
"This was a smart piece of tactical voting by supporters of academic boycott of
Israel and other forms of BDS. We made it quite clear that we support BDS in
principle, whatever the law says about implementing it. There is nothing
illegal in discussing boycott campaigns, and we will now be doing just that
along with activists in other unions, including people from Scottish TUC who
have just passed a BDS resolution at their Congress."
Hickey suggested in his summing-up speech that the time had come for UCU to obtain a court ruling to settle the question once and for all and to put a stop to the legal threats to which the union has been subjected over the past few years. He expressed his "extreme disappointment" with members of his own union who resorted to such threats instead of pursuing their arguments through the union’s internal democratic processes.
BRICUP members will now be encouraging trade unionists to attend the forthcoming BDS conference in order to broaden the campaign.
BRICUP’s fringe meeting before the start of Congress heard speeches from Ewa Jasiewicz (co-ordinator of the Free Gaza Movement), Samia al-Botmeh (BirZeit University, Palestine) and Prof. Haim Bresheeth of the University of East London. At the meeting, a statement was read out from a group of Israeli academics who were calling on international colleagues to boycott their institutions. "We are now reaching critical mass", said Blackwell. "Boycotts, disinvestments and sanctions against Israel are breaking out everywhere, from South Africa to Norway and even within Israel itself. BRICUP is very proud to be playing a part in the growing campaign alongside our Palestinian brothers and sisters and their supporters worldwide."
Dr. Amjad Barham, President of the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees, is attending UCU Congress as an official guest of the union. He will address Congress tomorrow (Thursday).
The Carmel Academic Center in Haifa Closes Academic Track As Too Many Palestinian Students
The Carmel Academic Center in Haifa shut down the concentration in accounting within its Department of Business Administration because a majority of the students applying were Palestinian citizens of Israel. This was revealed in a news item reported on Israeli news Channel 10 on 24 May (in Hebrew only).
According to this report, just over one week before studies were to commence, the center administration announced that the accountancy concentration would not open. According to a student (S.), "I was told […] that the students for accounting did not pay tuition, and later that there were not enough students."
Dr. Amos Baranes, a senior lecturer at the Carmel Academic Center and head of the Accounting Concentration, held a conversation about this decision with Gil Reshef, the entrepreneur behind the for profit Carmel center, which opened in the current academic year:
In this recorded conversation, Reshef said
"If it is a majority Arab, we can’t allow ourselves, because we can’t allowShocked by this conversation. Dr. Baranes met with Carmel Academic Center President, Professor Yehezkel Taler, formerly the Deputy Chair of the Israel Council for Higher Education. The conversation was recorded:
ourselves an institution that will be categorized as Arab. Haifa University has
this image and has a big problem [as] it is perceived as a university of Arabs
[…] We are not funded (by the state) and if we will be seen as Arab, [students]
will not come […]"
Dr. Baranes: "Yesterday I had a conversation with Gil; Gil also raised the issue about which you spoke, the Jewish/Arab issue, that we shouldn’t be an Arab majority […]"
Taler: "Here there was also a problem."
Dr. Baranes: "What?"
Taler: "Here there was also a problem. Of all those who registered, three were Jews, the rest Arab."
A horrified Baranes turned to the Israel Council of Higher Education, which accredits all institutes of higher education in Israel, including the Carmel center. In a written response, the Council noted that "it was clarified beyond doubt that the college didn’t open the program due to financial considerations."
However, when Carmel College President Taler learned that Dr. Baranes contacted the Israel Council for Higher Education, he removed Baranes from the center’s academic council and told him his future at the college is unclear. Taler told Baranes (in a taped conversation):
Taler: "I don’t want you there (Carmel’s academic council) […] I am not prepared that someone from the academic council will correspond with Ahmad Tibi (Dr. Tibi, Knesset member from the Ra’am Ta’al party) and the Israel Council for Higher Education."
Carmel College’s website (in Hebrew only) provides a telephone number (*5745) that can be dialed only from the areas under Israel’s control. When calling this number, the AIC was told that no telephone number exists that can be dialed from abroad, and that no fax number is available. However, we found their email and fax number, which you may find below.
The Alternative Information Center encourages Palestinian, Israeli and international activists for justice to contact the Carmel Academic Center and the Israeli Council of Higher Education to protest this blatant case of institutionalized racism by the Carmel Academic Center, and the lack of an in-depth investigation of this case by the Israel Council for Higher Education.
Carmel Academic Center: