More than 300 UK scholars have declared their support for an academic boycott of Israel, with a full page advertisement in The Guardian on Tuesday. In what has been described as an unprecedented step, the signatories have stated that they will not do business with Israel’s university institutions.
The initial list of signatories launched today features academics from 72 different institutions, including professors, lecturers, Fellows of the Royal Society and Fellows of the British Academy.
The advertisement marks the launch of a new initiative, ‘A Commitment by UK Scholars to Human Rights in Palestine’. The full Commitment, available online, reads as follows.
As scholars associated with UK universities, and responding to the call from Palestinian civil society, we declare that we will not:
· accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions;
· act as referees in any of their processes;
· participate in conferences funded, organised or sponsored by them, or otherwise cooperate with them.
We will, however, continue to work with our Israeli colleagues in their individual capacities.
According to organisers, the Commitment “is a response to the appeal for such action by Palestinian academics and civil society due to the deep complicity of Israeli academic institutions in Israeli violations of international law.”
This commitment is our response to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, and the intolerable human rights violations inflicted on all sections of the Palestinian people. We will maintain this position until the State of Israel complies with international law, and respects universal principles of human rights.
Speaking for the organisers of the Academic Commitment Professor Jonathan Rosenhead (London School of Economics) said “Israeli universities are at the heart of Israel’s violations of international law and oppression of the Palestinian people. These signatures were all collected despite the pressures that can be put on people not to criticise the state of Israel. Now that the invitation to join the Commitment is in the public domain, we anticipate many more to join us.”
One of the signatories, Professor Conor Gearty, Professor of Human Rights Law at London School of Economics, commented: “As a State that aspires to live by the values of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, Israel needs urgently to change its behaviour so far as its Palestinian citizens and those Palestinians under its control are concerned. This boycott is a small way of saying a big thing: that fairness and justice should be for real and not just for show, that all international laws must be respected, not only those that happen to be convenient”.