AFTER GAZA MASSACRE, ACADEMIC BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL SPREADS AT AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITIES

Sydney University Staff for BDS, Wollongong University Staff for BDS Press Release

Thursday 16 May 2018, 9.40am

In the wake of Israel’s massacre of protesters in Gaza on Monday, the move to boycott Israeli academic institutions is gaining strength in Australian universities.

Last month, 37 staff at the University of Sydney made Australia’s largest ever public commitment to boycott Israeli academic institutions. That figure has now grown to 57. At the University of Wollongong, 32 members of staff have pledged to sever ties with Israeli academic institutions. The pledges follow the principles of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, an international solidarity movement inspired by the success of boycotts in bringing an end to apartheid in South Africa.

While many academics in Australia have committed to the academic boycott, the 89 joint Sydney/Wollongong signatures represent the most serious public support for academic BDS ever seen in an Australian universities.

The signatories undertake to break all official contact with Israeli universities until Israel ends its occupation of UN-defined Palestinian land, grants full equality before the law to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and recognizes Palestinians’ right to return to the homes from which they were expelled in the 1948 war. Signatories will not attend conferences sponsored by Israeli universities, participate in academic exchange schemes, or otherwise collaborate professionally with Israeli universities until these goals have been fulfilled.

“When an oppressed people ask you to support them, you support them,” said Marcelo Svirsky from the “UOW Staff for BDS” group. “The Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza have been living under Israeli military occupation since 1967, an occupation that is becoming increasingly genocidal. Under present conditions Australian academics must make the right choice, which is supporting the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli official academic activities.”

“Academics increasingly acknowledge that the choices they make in their work can support a just peace in the Middle East,” said Nick Riemer from the ‘Sydney Staff for BDS’ group, which coordinated the pledge at Sydney University. “More and more colleagues are realising that Israel is the new South Africa. When apartheid against Palestinians has finally been lifted and democracy has come to Israel, academics want to be able to say they played their part.”

The pledge concludes by stating that signatories ‘look forward to a time when Israel is prepared to negotiate seriously and in good faith with Palestinians, and civil society actions like the boycott are no longer necessary’.

At both the University of Sydney and Wollongong, support for Palestine is strong among students, with active student support groups. 111 Palestinians have been killed and 13000 injured in the protests at the Gaza border fence since March 30. On Monday, the IDF killed 61 people, the youngest of whom was an 8-month old, Laila al-Ghandour, who died of tear gas inhalation.

Contact: Nick Riemer, University of Sydney, 0481 339 937, nick.riemer@sydney.edu.au; Marcelo Svirsky, University of Wollongong, 0437 890 005, msvirsky@uow.edu.au.

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