We, a group of academics, activists and artists in India, came together in June 2010 to campaign against yet another apartheid regime by extending support to the international campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
The Israeli state daily tramples on the academic freedom and cultural life of the Palestinian people, and continued association with the instruments of such a state is unconscionable. We believe that academic life is rooted in the values of democracy, equality and justice. The pursuit of excellence in the fields we work in has meaning only if imbued with conscience. When Palestinian students and teachers are not allowed to reach their universities because of permit laws and checkpoints, universities and schools are leveled by bombs and tanks, food, textbooks, and medical supplies are prohibited from entering Gaza, and artistic events are closed down in Jerusalem, none of the foundational principles on which academic and cultural contact are based can ever be fulfilled.
Indian academia has historically played a crucial role in the liberation of our people, and to this day supports those who struggle against colonialism and foreign domination. We appeal to you, as Indian academics to join us in firm opposition to India’s strategic, scientific, military, and economic relations with Israel. We appeal to you to speak and act in solidarity with the Palestinian people’s struggle for self-determination. Please visit http://www. incacbi.in for further information on how to join and what you can do.
This letter is to bring to your attention to yet another instance of India’s complicity in Israel’s brutal occupation and human rights violations in Palestine. Hyderabad is soon (September 7-9 2012) to host the Indo-Global Education Summit & Expo 2012at the Taj group of hotels, to which a number of Israeli Universities have been invited. This meeting seeks to facilitate academic partnerships between Indian and foreign Universities towards “collaborative research programs, joint/dual degree programs, twinning and transfer programs, faculty and student exchange programs, study abroad in India programs, distance education programs, and vocational education programs”.
Although ostensibly hosted by a private organization, The Indus Foundation, which purports to be an “American organization of professionals working as authorized representatives and promoters of American universities in the Indian sub-continent”, the mission statement of this organization has been “firmly” endorsed Kapil Sibal, Minister of Human Resource Development, in the interests of the needs of globalization. The summit itself has been blessed with his good wishes, and MHRD and Ministry of Home Affairs clearance has been given to the event. All this indicates that the Indian state’s recent assurances of commitment to “the restoration of Palestinian land and the assertion of Palestinian sovereignty” (Shri E. Ahamed, Minister of State for External Affairs, on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, January 28, 2011) are nothing but platitudes. Otherwise the GoI would have been appalled by the track records of Tel Aviv University, Technion, and Hiafa University, the three Israeli Universities invited to participate in the Summit.
All three institutions further the practice of institutional discrimination against Palestinian students (who are citizens of Israel) by severely restricting their freedom of speech and assembly and access to scholarships and student housing
1. Tel Aviv University (TAU):
Israel’s premier academic institution Tel Aviv University (TAU) is deeply invested in the facilitation and prosecution (at both the material and conceptual level) of what amount to war crimes.
- It has played the leading role in developing an explicit military doctrine of “disproportionality” calling for the targeting of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructures, and is at the forefront of the development of technological support to the Israeli military and arms industry. Indeed, many of the TAU faculty are also leading officials in these establishments – for example, a lecturer in the Law Faculty at Tel Aviv University, Colonel Sharvit-Baruch was also the former head of the International Law department at the Israeli Military Advocate General’s office. Similarly, another professor, Yitzhak Ben‐Israel, holds the rank of an air force General and is head of Israel’s Space Agency, as well as Chair of the Knesset’s Lobby for the Defense Industries.
- TAU’s research Centre, the Institute for National Security Studies, is heavily involved in military planning, and hosts seminar, workshop, and lecture programs jointly with the National Security College, IDF Command, and National Security Council. It is a key venue in advancing what it terms the ‘redesign of the IDF’ into a force capable of achieving ‘the proper balance between the three threat arenas: classic, non-conventional, and low‐intensity.’ In early January 2009, TAU’s quarterly Review offered a special cover story focus on TAU’s ‘major role in enhancing Israel’s security capabilities and military edge.’ It celebrates ongoing high‐level military and surveillance research being ‘conducted in rooms and laboratories protected by barred windows, multiple locks and office safes. Amongst other programs, the Review celebrates:
- New explosives research being conducted in the Organic Chemistry Department;
- Electro‐optical missile defence research in the Faculty of Engineering (funded by ELBIT);
- Laser and radar air defence systems being developed in the Faculty of Exact Sciences;
- Electronic eavesdropping and transmission tracking developments in the School of Electronic Engineering;
- New algorithmic email surveillance and data‐mining techniques being pioneered in the Fleischman Faculty of Engineering;
- Biometric and genomic sorting and surveillance techniques developed in the Chemistry Department;
- Aerodynamic and flight control mechanisms for unmanned aerial vehicles being advanced at the School of Mechanical Engineering;
The scientific research institution Technion has long been known to be complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and the rights of Palestinians, specifically by designing military weapons and developing technologies used to drive Palestinians off their land, repress demonstrations for their rights, and carry out attacks against people in Lebanon, Gaza, and elsewhere. Technion’s record of complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights is too long to reproduce here, but here are some highlights:
- It has a partnership with Elbit Systems, which is one of Israel’s largest private weapons manufacturers. Elbit manufactured the drones that Israel used in its crimes against civilians in Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2008-09. This partnership has played a leading role not only in the construction and surveillance of the apartheid wall in Palestine, but also along the U.S.-Mexico border through its subsidiary, Kollsman.
- Technion trains its engineering students to work with companies dealing “directly in the development of complex weapons in the process of researching their academic theses.” In one example with Elbit Systems, the reward has been the funding of research grants in upwards of half a million dollars to Technion’s students conducting research.
- One of the institute’s most notorious projects resulted in the development of a remote-control function on the Caterpillar’s ‘D9’ bulldozer “used by the Israeli army to demolish Palestinian houses and farms and the development of a method for detecting underground tunnels, specifically developed in order to assist the Israeli army in its continued siege on the Gaza Strip.”
- Technion has deep relations with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, one of Israel’s largest government-sponsored weapons manufacturers famous for its “advanced hybrid armor protection system” used in Israel’s Merkava tanks. The institute has developed an “MBA program tailored specifically for Rafael managers” which further solidifies its relationship between academia and Israel’s military-industrial complex.
3. Haifa University
- Haifa University sponsors scholarships for army veterans and those who took part in the 2008/9 military attack on the Gaza Strip; and, as its former Rector, Professor Yossi Ben Artzi, has remarked through a 2010 press release “is proud to continue being the academic home for the security forces and to teach the IDF leadership a large number of different and diverse perspectives.” Professor Ben Artzi made this announcement following Haifa University’s winning of an Israeli army tender to continue training students at the army’s College for National Security for MA studies in the next five years.
- Another prominent professor at the University, Arnon Sofer, the Reuven Chaikin Chair in Geostrategy, in a speech on 15 December 2011, raised the alarm about the supposed invasion by Bedouins and other undesirable non-Jews and urged the government to act, presumably to expel them and retain the land for the exclusive use of Jews.
We hope this brief summary of the role played by these ‘academic’ institutions in the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinian lands and people has underlined the need for a complete boycott of any academic relationship between Indian and Israeli Universities. There is no doubt that there may be many right-thinking individuals in these institutions as well; but continued or newly instituted educational ties with Israeli academic institutions, are exploited by the Israeli state as a means to legitimize its occupation. As Judith Butler has written, with regards to her visit to Israel years ago, “the rector of Tel Aviv University said, ‘Look how lucky we are. Judith Butler has come to Tel Aviv University, a sign that she does not accept the boycott,’ I was instrumentalized against my will. And I realized I cannot function in that public space without already being defined in the boycott debate.”
We appeal to you to publicise the information in this letter, as well as the boycott call. We seek your cooperation in exerting pressure on the institutional authorities of your University/institute to boycott any consultations\collaboration with Israeli academic institutions, both at the Summit and outside. In addition, we request you to mobilise your colleagues in our protest to the Indus Foundation (email@example.com) and the HRD minister (firstname.lastname@example.org) against the invitation of Israeli academic institutions at the Summit.
For The Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (INCACBI)
Upendra Baxi (Delhi University, INCACBI Patron)
Ayesha Kidwai (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Convenor)
Mohan Rao (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Convenor)
Gargi Sen (Filmmaker, Convener)
Githa Hariharan (Writer, Convenor)
Kamal Mitra Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Anuradha Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Achin Vanaik (Delhi University)
Janaki Abraham (Delhi University)
- G. Arunima (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
- Anand Chakravarthy (Delhi University)
- Uma Chakravarthy (Delhi University)
- Rupa Chanda (IIM Bangalore)
- C.P. Chandrasekhar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
- Roma Chatterji (Delhi University)
- Anuradha Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
- Kamal Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
- Satish Deshpande (Delhi University)
- Rohan D’Souza (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
- Vasanthi Devi (Former VC, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tamilnadu)
- Jayati Ghosh (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
- Meena Gopal (SNDT Women’s University)
- Mushirul Hasan (Director, National Archives of India)
- Zoya Hasan (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
- T. Jayaraman (Tata Institute of Social Studies)
- Mary John (Centre for Women’s Development Studies)
- Kalpana Kannabiran (Hyderabad University)
- Nuzhat Kazmi (Jamia Millia Islamia)
- Farida Khan (Jamia Millia Islamia)
- Vina Mazumdar (Former director of CWDS)
- Nivedita Menon (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
- Aditya Nigam (Centre for the Study of Developing Studies, Delhi)
- Rajni Palriwala (Delhi University)
- Prabhat Patnaik (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
- Prabir Purkayastha (Delhi Science Forum)
- Nina Rao (Delhi University)
- Kannamma Raman (University of Mumbai)
- Rahul Roy (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)
- Madhu Sahni (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
- Sumit Sarkar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
- Tanika Sarkar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
- Nandini Sundar (Delhi University)
- Vikram Vyas (Delhi University)
And 100 other INCACBI members