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Lecturers vote for Israeli boycott PDF Print E-mail
Apr 22, 2005 at 12:00 AM
Guardian Unlimited, Polly Curtis
Friday April 22, 2005

The Association of University Teachers today voted to boycott two Israeli universities over their failure to speak out against their government. Delegates at a conference in Eastbourne voted, against the wishes of the executive, for an immediate boycott of Haifa University, which they accuse of restricting the academic freedom of staff members who are critical of the government, and of Bar Ilans University, which has a college in the disputed settlement Ariel.

The boycott, which is now official union policy, will follow a plan prescribed by a group of 60 Palestinian academic and cultural bodies and non-governmental organisations, which calls for British academics to severe links with Israeli institutions but to exempt Israelis who speak out against their government’s policies towards the Palestinians.

The executive had asked delegates to defer the debate until the facts of the cases included in three motions were confirmed. A third boycott, against the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was dropped as delegates queried the evidence of accusations it had evicted Palestinian families to build dormitories.

There were cheers as the motions were passed. Shereen Benjamin, from Birmingham University, one of the authors of the motions, told EducationGuardian: “It is a much better result than we’d dared to hope for. What it does is put the issue on the agenda at a higher profile than it’s ever been.

“As an educator I applaud that people are discussing this ... We think the boycott of Haifa will send a clear message about academic freedom in Israel.”

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In Rachel Corrie verdict, Israel deals new blow to international law
The verdict on the 2003 killing of Rachel Corrie absolved Israel of any wrongdoing, essentially blaming the victim for her death. The trial revealed Israel’s approach to the most fundamental principles of international law, and especially to the duty to protect non-combatants.

By Jeff Halper

For those who hoped for a just verdict on the death of Rachel Corrie, the American student and ISM activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 as she was defending a Palestinian home about to be demolished, this is a sad day. Not surprising, but still sad and bitter. The judge who decided the case, Oded Gershon, absolved the army of all blame, despite massive and internally contradictory testimony to the contrary. Moreover, he essentially blamed Rachel for her own death, commenting that a “normal person” would have run away from the bulldozer rather than confront it.

Palestinians and Israel human rights activists have learned that justice cannot be obtained through the Israeli judicial system. The Haifa District Court, in which the trial was held, could not have ruled other than how the state wanted. For the past 45 years of Israeli occupation, the Supreme Court has excluded from its rulings all reference to international humanitarian law and to the Fourth Geneva Convention in particular, which protects civilians living in conflict situations and under occupation. Only Israeli law applies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – military law and orders – and the courts have restricted even that form of law by declaring that in instances of “security,” they defer to the military. As in Rachel’s case, the IDF thus has carte blanche to commit war crimes with impunity, with no fear of accountability or punishment.

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