Dutch students intensify campaign for academic boycott of Israel

Students for Justice in Palestine at VU University in Amsterdam stepped up their campaign for an academic boycott of Israel last week.

Two students dressed as Israeli soldiers “raided” the university accompanied by fellow activists who handed out leaflets about Israel’s occupation and others abuses of Palestinians.

The “soldiers” summoned students to show their IDs to check if they were Palestinian and inspected bags and “suspicious” objects.

The action aimed to increase the support for an academic boycott of Israel.

SRP, as the group is known by its Dutch initials, posted a video of the action on its Facebook page. The video, above, also explains the reasons the group is pushing for a boycott of Israeli institutions.

“Students and staff responded positively to our action,” SRP chair Thomas Hofland told The Electronic Intifada. “Many were not aware that military inspections are a daily routine for Palestinians in the West Bank and the refugee camps,” he added.

VU University, a large publicly funded research institution, has links with Tel Aviv University through an exchange program. It has also officially received the dean of Haifa University, together with the Israeli ambassador.

Banned

SRP objected to the visit because of Haifa University’s ties with the Israeli military. Such ties “normalize the occupation of Palestine and the Israeli apartheid regime,” the SRP video states.

The students are calling for an academic boycott because all Israeli universities cooperate closely with the government and the military. PACBI — the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel — has established guidelines for such a boycott.

The student group had planned a public meeting on the topic at VU University in early 2015. But the university board banned the event at the last minute, revoking an earlier permission. The board claimed that the “civil unrest” created by the attacks on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo had evoked “feelings of exclusion and insecurity” around the meeting.

The role of Dutch pro-Israel lobby group CIDI in creating the “unrest” became clear, however, when it publicly thanked its supporters for their efforts to have the SRP event banned. The public meeting was transferred to a venue outside VU University.

SRP was also moved to protest when, despite a university promise not to promote an annual CIDI event, a series of lectures about Israel’s foreign policy organized by CIDI was announced on the university’s internal website. The information was subsequently removed.

SRP will organize events at VU University and in Amsterdam during this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week.

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Decency is closing in on Israel and it is only a matter of time before the BDS and the academic boycotts begin to have serious repercussions for Israel. It's easy to tell now that the revolt against Israel's brutal occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people is causing damage to Israel. And that is a good thing!

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Applause and thanks to the volunteers of SRP, who bring awareness of these injustices to their fellow students. The BDS movement is especially vital on university and college campuses, building a new consensus against apartheid that will expand and endure.

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I signed the petition and I thank you for offering the opportunity. It was to great measure the actions of university students who focused attention on South African apartheid and brought it down.

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As soon as you read those words, you know it's the work of the international Zionist Islamophobic lobby (represented in the Netherlands by CIDI). It's like they have their own language, which anyone, after a minimum of reading and/or instruction soon learns to recognize.

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Adri Nieuwhof

Adri Nieuwhof's picture

Adri Nieuwhof is a human rights advocate based in the Netherlands and former anti-apartheid activist at the Holland Committee on Southern Africa. Twitter: @steketeh