As Israel’s relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip claimed more Palestinian lives, Haim Bresheeth, a film scholar at SOAS, University of London, helped initiate an open letter to Israeli academics urging them to condemn the slaughter.
The open letter states in part:
We have been asked by our academic colleagues in Gaza – whose universities have been destroyed a number of times in the last six years, who are unable to teach or study, and who are also in growing need of food and medicines, like the rest of the almost two million Palestinians living in Gaza – to urge you to act urgently, to make your voice heard in Israel and abroad against what the Israeli government is inflicting on the Gaza population.
“We invite you, as fellow academics and intellectuals, to join your voices in an open and resounding protest about these war crimes by the Israeli government – your government. We urge you to stand up and be counted, to answer the call of your Gazan colleagues and make your voice heard,” the open letter urges.
The open letter quickly attracted about a thousand signatures from academics all over the world.
Almost three dozen Israeli academics answered the call and issued the statement at the end of this post in which they deplore the “slaughter of large numbers of wholly innocent people.”
Despite Bresheeth’s and others’ determined efforts, the number of Israeli academics willing to make even such a modest call is remarkably few, a sign of the extremism gripping the country.
In an article published by The Electronic Intifada yesterday, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe writes: “One can witness again consensual Israeli Jewish support for the massacre of civilians in the Gaza Strip, without one significant voice of dissent.”
Pappe adds: “Academia, as always, becomes part of the machinery. The prestigious private university, the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya has established “a civilian headquarters” where students volunteer to serve as mouthpieces in the propaganda campaign abroad.” (I wrote more about this operation earlier today.)
Some may be fearful to speak out because of the relentless incitement, threats and cries of “Death to the Arabs” and “Death to Leftists” that dissenters face in the streets and online.
Zochrot, the Israeli group that advocates for the Palestinian right of return and does public education about the Nakba – the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that began in 1947 – issued its own statement.
“For more than sixty-six years, the Israeli regime had been violating, systematically and harshly, the human rights of millions of Palestinians,” Zochrot says.
“The violent reality we are witnessing these days, that takes a heavy toll from many, especially the Palestinian refugees, is a direct outcome of a racist regime which established itself based on an ongoing destruction, dispossession, expulsion and occupation,” the statement notes.
“Ad hoc” ceasefire arrangements would not be enough, Zochrot says. “Only a fundamental change in the regime, which will be based on taking responsibility on the ongoing crimes of the Nakba and the implementation of the right of return of the Palestinian refugees will bring about the ending of the violence.”
Statement signed by Israeli academics
“The signatories to this statement, all academics at Israeli universities, wish it to be known that they utterly deplore the aggressive military strategy being deployed by the Israeli government. The slaughter of large numbers of wholly innocent people, is placing yet more barriers of blood in the way of the negotiated agreement which is the only alternative to the occupation and endless oppression of the Palestinian people. Israel must agree to an immediate ceasefire, and start negotiating in good faith for the end of the occupation and settlements, through a just peace agreement.”
Professor Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv University
Professor Emmanuel Farjoun, Hebrew University
Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Hebrew University
Dr. Kobi Snitz, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Dr. Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University
Dr Efrat Ben-Zeev, Ruppin Academic Center
Professor As’ad Ghanem, Haifa University
Professor Anat Biletzki, Tel Aviv University
Professor Adi Ophir, Tel Aviv University
Dr. Ovadia Ezra, Tel Aviv University
Professor Zvi Tauber, Tel Aviv University
Professor Vered Kraus, Haifa University
Dr. Yuval Yonay, Haifa University
Professor Oded Goldreich, Weizman Institute
Professor Dana Ron, Tel Aviv University
Professor Gadi Algazi, Tel Aviv University
Professor Mira Ariel, Tel Aviv University
Professor Idan Landau, Ben Gurion University
Professor As’ad Ghanem, Haifa University
Dr. Ayelet Ben-Yishai, Haifa University
Professor Micah Leshem, Haifa University
Dr. Ilan Saban, Faculty of Law, University of Haifa
Dr. Avishai Ehrlich, TAU
Dr. Ivy Sichel, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Professor Yehuda Shenhav, Sociology, TAU
Dr. Hannah Safran, The Academic College for Society and the Arts
Dr. Yael Ben-zvi, Ben-Gurion University
Professor Dudy Tzfati, Hebrew University
Dr. Tikva Honig-Parnass, Jerusalem
Professor David Blanc, math, Haifa University
Elizabeth Ritter, Department of Foreign Literatures and Linguistics, Ben-Gurion University
Professor Tal Siloni, Tel Aviv University
Paul Wexler, Professor Emeritus, Tel-Aviv University