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138 Irish academics pledge to boycott Israel

Feb. 20, 2014 4:57 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 22, 2014 8:38 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- More than 130 Irish academics have signed a pledge to boycott Israeli institutions in the latest move from the international campaign for the academic boycott of Israel.

The 138 signatories, who hail from a diverse variety of academic fields, pledged "not to engage in any professional association with Israeli academic, research and state institutions ... until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights."

The pledge was organized by the activist group Academics for Palestine and includes signatories both in the Republic of Ireland as well as Northern Ireland, which is controlled by the United Kingdom and has been the site of intermittent national conflict for nearly a century.

The pledge was launched on the occasion of the visit of major Israel and Palestinian supporters of boycott, divestment, and sanctions of Israel to Ireland to launch the group "Academics for Palestine."

"Israeli society has been united in its denial and rejection of international law and UN resolutions on the 1967 occupation. For five decades it had shunned the international community on these and many other issues," Israeli scholar Professor Haim Bresheeth told an audience on Wednesday at Queen's University in Belfast.

He added: "It is time for the international community to shun Israeli society through BDS."

Palestinian academic Ghada Karmi also took park in the event, stressing that BDS does not target individual Israeli citizens but institutions.

"Coming to Ireland, where the term was invented, reminds us that, far from being a form of oppression or bullying, 'boycott' is the weapon of the weak," she said. "Its chief importance lies in its ability to raise public awareness and arouse disapproval."

The move follows a series of successes for the international BDS movement, and in particular the academic boycott. In December, the 5,000-member American Studies Association endorsed the boycott of Israel, following a similar move by the Association for Asian American Studies in April.

Similarly in April, the Teachers' Union of Ireland became the first academic union in Europe to endorse the boycott of Israel, which it referred to as an "apartheid state."

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was officially launched in 2004 by Palestinian civil society in order to pressure the state of Israel to end its systematic violations of Palestinian human rights, including the right to education.

Activists argue that extensive institutional collaboration between Israeli universities and the Israeli military warrant an international boycott campaign, as part of a broader movement of boycott, divestment, and sanctions targeting the State of Israel in order to end the occupation and its extensive human rights violations.
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