One week into a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip, members of the academic world have joined the global protest against Israeli oppression, by signing a petition calling for the boycott of all Israeli academic institutions. Amongst the most high profile individuals to have joined the cause has been theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking.
Johannesburg academic and Palestinian Solidarity Campaign spokesperson, Dr Salim Vally, said the extent of the atrocities and massacres being committed in Palestine, and the will of academics and intellectuals to protest against those crimes, was meant to be “speaking truth to power”.
With universities and schools being the subject of Israeli airsrikes in Gaza over the past week, Vally said the petition was a call for Israeli academics to take a stand against what was transpiring.
“It is important to note that even before this present bombardment, a number of universities were raided by the Israeli occupation forces. A lot of the property was damaged, and students and faculty members were arrested,” he noted.
He said there was a widespread belief amongst the academic world, that unless the Israeli academics spoke out and took a stand against the oppression, they would be considered complicit in what essentially amounted to crimes against humanity.
With the petition being signed by academics from numerous countries around the world, including individuals from Israel itself, Vally said it was quite clear the momentum was on the side of those who believed that solidarity was essential. He said there was a growing belief amongst academics, that they could not remain silent in the face of such “savagery and barbarity”.
However, Vally expressed disappointment that the petition had not been signed by the number of Israeli academics they had expected. He attributed this to the racist hysteria generate in Israel by the kidnapping and murder of the three teenage Israeli settlers.
“Just the vile hysteria and racist comments everywhere, is something that thinking people around the world find unconscionable, especially in the light of Nazism and Apartheid,” he said.
He said an academic boycott would result in a number of resolutions, including cutting working ties with all Israeli institutions.
“This is a result of the complicity of the Israeli academy with the military. The occupation of Palestinian land, and the discrimination Palestinians face in Israel, could not happen without the active support of the Israeli academy,” he explained. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)