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UK academics show support for Israeli boycott

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A group of university professors in the U.K have vowed to take a stand against Israel’s oppression of Palestinians in the occupied territories, as well as its continued violations of international law. Roughly 343 academics have shown their support for a growing academic boycott against the controversial state by cutting ties with all Israeli institutions, refusing all invites to the country, as well as rejecting invites to any conferences funded or organised by Israeli universities.

“Increasingly there is a disinclination to turn away and turn a blind eye to this any longer. The sooner this impacts upon the awareness of the Israeli public and they bring pressure on their own government to have serious negotiations with Palestinians and abide by international law, the better for everybody,” said Dr Tom Hickey, a principle lecturer in philosophy at the University of Brighton and the organiser of the group.

While the academics have vowed there adherence to the boycott, Hickey said the move would serve as an invitation to fellow colleagues in the higher education sector in the U.K to put their name to the pledge and join the cause. Within the first day of the announcement, a further 150 people signalled their commitement to the cause.

“The mood is there, and I just hope that governments, including our own government in the U.K take cognisance of the fact that increasingly civil societies in Britain, Europe, South Africa and the world are not prepared to turn a blind-eye to what is being done to the Palestinians,” he expressed.

The British government and Prime Minister, David Cameron were “quick off the mark” to condemn the statement of commitment from the academics. Hickey said they were not minded to take lessons from a PM himself accused of trying to change the British constitution.

“It is a PM who is progressively engaged through the imposition of higher tuition fees on students, the marketization of higher education, and the dismantling of the sector. We are disinclined to take seriously the protestations of a PM about democratic procedures,” he stressed.

While the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel products and services has proven fruitful, Hickey said it was the academic boycott that was proving most sensitive in the country.

“It is a matter of fact that the cultural history of the Jewish diaspora puts an enormous stall, understandable and explicably by intellectual engagement and scholarship,” he stated. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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