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1,200 Spanish University Professors and Researchers Demand to Break Academic Relationships with Israel

[This statement was first published here on 6 August 2014.]

More than one thousand professionals have signed a manifesto, released by the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) academic campaign for Palestine, demanding to end all institutional relations with the Israeli academic world, until it stops supporting occupation and apartheid in Palestine.

The campaign, which started two years ago, asks for support from professionals from the academic and scientific field, and also from associations linked to this field, such as student’s and worker’s unions, research centers, professional associations, etc. From the 1,400 people who have signed the manifesto, 150 are professors, 850 are teachers and 200 are researchers. More than fifty-two associations linked to the academic field have also signed; among them there are research groups and University departments.

This initiative is part of an international campaign: Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) to Israel. This international calling is a non-violent strategy driven by the Palestinian Society in 2005. It is growing as an effective pressure strategy towards Israel, so that it respects Human Rights and International Law. Last year, the physician Stephen Hawking, the Nobel Peace Prize Desmond Tutu, and four American academic associations adhered to the boycott. It is important to emphasize that this demand is at an institutional level and not at an individual one. On the same line, the European Union has established a de facto boycott to all collaboration with Israeli research centers and Universities placed in the Occupied Territories.

The campaign will keep collecting signatures and foresees to support specific campaigns which will develop in different Spanish universities, such as the University of Vic and the University of Malaga, where the aim is to break ties with Haifa University and Tel Aviv University, respectively.

In Catalonia, activists from the above mentioned campaign occupied the Secretary of Universities and Research on 15 May, asking for transparency in all of the agreements signed last November when a delegation of businessmen, councilors, and directors of research centers led by Artur Mar travelled to Israel to tighten economic and academic ties with Israeli institutions.

As a result, a meeting was achieved with the Secretary of Universities, Antoni Castellà, where the campaign’s demands were exposed. He delivered the agreements signed
during that trip. Even though he assured that no Catalan Universities collaborate with universities that are involved in the Occupation of Palestine, these Israeli universities do actively participate in military research projects and in the Palestinian occupation. This is documented in Alejandro Pozo’s report: Defensa, Seguretat i Ocupació com a Negoci. Relacions Militars, Armamentístiques i de Seguretat entre Espanya i Israel.

The Spanish campaign has achieved a special echo in Catalonia, where forty percent of the total signatures are from: more than 550. The Universities that have participated the most are the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Universitat de Barcelona. This is especially significant since the Generalitat is clearly trying to transform Israel into a priority partner, with a specific emphasis when it comes to University ties.

For more information and to contact members of the campaign, send an e-mail to bdspbai@gmail.com.

Red de Solidaridad contra la Ocupación de Palestina (RESCOP)

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