More than 140 academics in Ireland have signed this pledge:
In response to the call from Palestinian civil society for an institutional academic boycott of Israel, we pledge not to engage in any professional association with Israeli academic, research and state institutions and with those representing these institutions, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.
The signatories, from higher education institutions all over the island of Ireland, come from a wide range of disciplines and include many well-known figures, such as Seamus Deane, Ailbhe Smyth, Luke Gibbons, Ronit Lentin, Joe Cleary, Kieran Allen, Kathleen Lynch, Tadhg Foley, Terrence McDonough and Helena Sheehan.
The pledge was announced at the 20 February launch in Dublin of Academics for Palestine (see video above).
International and mainstream
Conor McCarthy, lecturer in English at the National University of Ireland Maynooth said that “the recent endorsement of the boycott campaign by the 5,000-member American Studies Association in the US, along with positive moves by the Modern Language Association and the controversy over Scarlett Johansson, showed that BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] is now very much part of a mainstream international debate.”
Speaking at the launch, Dr. Ghada Karmi, of Exeter University in the UK, said “Israel’s well-documented repression of Palestinian academic life and victimization of Palestinian teachers and students is a scandal to be denounced by all those who claim to care about academic freedom.”
Also speaking at the launch, Israeli professor and film-maker Haim Bresheeth welcomed the initiative, saying it represents “civic action of citizens and academics who take up their responsibility.”
“Boycott does work,” Bresheeth added.
Irish academic complicity
Academics for Palestine today drew attention to the complicity of some Irish researchers “with Israeli counterparts who make drones, develop high-tech weapons and engage in ‘counter-terror’ activities with the Mossad” – an Israeli state-sponsored clandestine group that engages in extrajudicial murder.
According to Academics for Palestine, “Irish universities have collaborated with Israel in 257 projects to date, seven of them listed as ‘security’ and 13 as ‘aerospace.’”
The group’s chair, Jim Roche, said the daily discrimination inflicted on Palestinian academics was enough to justify support for the academic boycott, but added: “The revelations of Irish academia’s collaboration with companies closely linked to Israel’s military-industrial complex are truly shocking.”
Roche noted that “a non-European country, Israel, actually receives more research and development funding from the EU than many European countries do.”
It is not just “Israeli universities that avail of this funding,” Roche observed, “but Israeli security and military companies – and they are often the lead partner in a research consortium.”
The formation of Academics for Palestine will be seen as a major boost to the Palestine solidarity movement in Ireland, which has often been a pioneer.
Since 2010, more than 250 Irish artists and cultural workers have publicly pledged to boycott cultural activities and performances linked to the Israeli state.