Manifesto against the collaborative agreements between the UVic (Catalonia) and israeli universities

On the 12th of November the University of Vic (UVic) in Catalonia issued a press release that announced the signing of collaborative agreements with Israeli institutions. The Chancellor of the University of Vic, Jordi Montaña, who travelled to Israel this November with the delegation that accompanied the official visit of the President of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Artur Mas, signed a collaborative agreement with the University of Haifa and the Rambam Health Care Campus.

With the signing of both agreements, the UVic aims to boost along with Israeli institutions mobility programmes for teachers, researchers and students, as well as cooperating in order to establish inter-university masters and ordinary degrees. As they explain, “these agreements are framed within the strategic line of internationalisation of the UVic.”

We the undersigned of this manifesto, entities, groups and people in a personal capacity, reject this agreement for the reasons we outline below:

In July 2005 Palestinian civil society made a unitary call to start a campaign of international isolation of Israel, inspired by the South African struggle against the apartheid regime. More than 130 organisations from Palestinian civil society supported the declaration. Since then, the international civil campaign for the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel has spread across the world and gained many supporters.

Through this campaign of non-violent punitive measures, the Palestinian people wish to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and end the historical injustice to which they have been subjected since 1948, since the Nakba (disaster).

The establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 meant the expulsion of more than 70% of the indigenous population from their homes and their land. More than 700,000 Palestinians became refugees. After the 1967 war Israel set into motion the military and civil occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. 300,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes. Today, there are more than 5 million Palestinian refugees. Israel continues denying them their right of return, in breach of Resolution 194 (1948) of the General Assembly of the United Nations and 237 (1967) of its Security Council.

In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel has established more than 230 settlements, with around 600,000 Jewish colonialists, making the creation of a viable and autonomous Palestinian state an impossibility. Moreover, Israel has continued to occupy the Syrian Golan Heights since 1967, where more than 20,000 Jewish colonialists live in 32 settlements. All these settlements are illegal according to international law: they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention and breach Resolution 242 (1967) of the United Nations Security Council.

Since 2005 Israel has imposed a criminal blockade of the Gaza Strip. The situation here is of extreme humanitarian crisis and this has been documented by the United Nations.

The state of Israel has established and consolidated a completely discriminatory legislative apparatus towards 20% of its population, the Arab minority. More than fifty laws discriminate against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.

Neither are the Israeli academic institutions innocent in the development and maintenance of this system of institutional control and territorial fragmentation to which the Palestinian population is subjected. They are a necessary and essential part, and this is why we reject the collaborative agreement that UVic wants to establish with Israeli universities:

  • By law, soldiers, ex-soldiers and student reservists receive preferential treatment in all universities. No university has ever expressed any opposition to this, not even symbolically.
  • Discrimination against Palestinians is also reflected in their disproportionate low representation at all educational levels. They are 20% of the population of the Israeli State, but only represent 9.5% of degree students, 4.8% of master degree students, 3.2% of doctorate students and 1% of academic staff.
  • Just as occurred in the apartheid South Africa, in Israel academic institutions are not innocent spaces where academic freedom and progressive ideas reign. Quite the opposite, in fact, since the universities help in a very specific way to develop the knowledge necessary to ensure and support the practices and policies that extend the occupation and colonisation of the Palestinian Territories.
  • Israeli military companies facilitate the persistent and serious breaches in international law that Israel commits. They supply arms and technology that enables Israel to commit atrocities, such as the bombardments of Gaza 2008-9 with more than 1,300 deaths, over 30% of them minors, and the daily violations of human rights. The Israeli university system and research institutions are deeply involved in military research and arms development projects, placing themselves at the centre of the planning and execution of Israeli war crimes. Michael Federman, President of the Board of Directors of Elbit Systems (one of the main manufacturing companies of electronic defence materials in Israel), is a member of the Governing Body of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and of the Weizmann Institute. The involvement of Israeli academia in the occupation of Palestinian Territories and the Israeli apartheid system is completely undeniable.
  • The University of Haifa is an example of the above. It sponsors, along with the army, an academic programme that trains future intelligence officers that is undertaken in a military base on the self-same university campus. It gives preference to students who have served in the army when assigning residential places for its students, openly discriminatory criteria against Arab-Palestinian students. Moreover, the university’s official guide for international students includes specific advice not to visit the Palestinian towns and cities situated in East Israel, and warns them not to visit the Palestinian territories, the West bank or Gaza under any circumstances.

For these reasons:

  • We demand that the Chancellor of the UVic, Mr. Jordi Montaña, and the President of the Fundació Universitària Balmes and Mayor of Vic, Mr. Josep Maria Vila d’Abadal, completely reconsider the collaborative agreements, in the name of the University of Vic, with an Israeli university.
  • We demand that until the university with which it wishes to establish an agreement does not issue a clear and public statement in defence of these points and breaks off all relationships with the army and the arms industry, the University of Vic cannot establish any kind of collaboration with this Israeli institution. Doing so turns it into an accomplice of every crime committed by the Israeli State against the Palestinian people, legitimising an essential part of the system that makes the undertaking of these crimes possible.

Just as the international civil campaign for the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel demands, we consider it legitimate to claim that until the State of Israel does not comply with its obligation to recognize the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and respect international law by ending the occupation and colonisation of the territories occupied in 1967 and dismantling the wall; the recognition of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel in full equality; the respect, protection and promotion of the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties just as is stipulated in Resolution 194 of the United Nations.

Contrary to what is reported from ill-informed areas or simply with the desire to misinform, the call for the international boycott does not seek the destruction and/or disappearance of the State of Israel, but the strict compliance of international legality and the respect for human rights and the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.

Vic, 20 November 2013

Signed: Please see this link for a list of signatories.


Una resposta a Manifesto

  1. Retroenllaç: What can I do as a University librarian to support Academic and Cultural BDS? : #LibTechNotes

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