Palestinian unions representing lecturers, university employees, teachers and writers have praised the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) for its endorsement of an academic boycott of Israel.
In a letter saluting the TUI, the Palestinians said the clarity of the union’s statement was “unprecedented”. They also highlighted the importance of such solidarity actions, invoking Irish support for those struggling against South African apartheid many years ago. (The full text of the letter is below.)
At its annual conference last Thursday, the TUI voted unanimously to support the request for an academic boycott that has been made by a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society. The union calls on its members to “cease all cultural and academic collaboration with Israel, including the exchange of scientists, students and academic personalities, as well as all cooperation in research programmes”.
The motion refers to Israel as an “apartheid state”. It calls on the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) to build on its previous work and to “step up its campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the apartheid state of Israel until it lifts its illegal siege of Gaza and its illegal occupation of the West Bank, and agrees to abide by International law and all UN resolutions against it”.
The TUI will embark on awareness-raising with its members, many of whom are third-level academics in the Institutes of Technology, about the importance of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Jim Roche, TUI member and proposer of the motion, welcomed the Palestinian statement. “This letter demonstrates how crucial international solidarity and action is in supporting the Palestinian people in their struggle for justice,” he said. “This is part of a broader BDS campaign whose aim is to pressurise the Israeli state to abide by international law. The TUI motion is historic and very welcome and we hope that other academic unions in Ireland and in the EU follow suit.”
Mr. Roche continued: “Such a ringing endorsement from Palestine should motivate all involved to do their utmost to ensure the TUI decision is just the beginning. As Palestinian education is under constant attack by Israel, people who care about human rights must act in its defence. This boycott is not an attack on academic freedom – it’s an attempt to protect it.”
Full Text of Palestinian Letter
Palestinian Academics, Teachers and Writers Salute the Teachers Union of Ireland
7 April 2013
We, representatives of academics, teachers and writers in the occupied Palestinian territory, salute the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) for its principled support for the cause of justice in Palestine by voting unanimously, at its Annual Congress on 4th April 2013, to endorse the Palestinian call for the academic boycott of Israel. Becoming the first academic union in Europe to formally adopt the academic boycott cause, the TUI has revived the noble legacy of Irish support for the boycott against South African apartheid and bolstered international support for the Palestinian call, endorsed by an overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society, to apply effective pressure on Israel and hold it accountable for its system of occupation, colonization and apartheid that violates international law and fundamental human rights.
Given the deep complicity of Israel’s academic institutions in planning, implementing, justifying and whitewashing Israel’s multi-tiered system of oppression against the Palestinian people, all these institutions should be boycotted and held to account, as the TUI has affirmed.
We are particularly heartened by the fact that the motion passed at your Congress is unequivocal; it calls on “all members to cease all cultural and academic collaboration with Israel, including the [institutional] exchange of scientists, students and academic personalities, as well as all cooperation in research programmes.” Such a clear and principled stand is unprecedented in the several years of academic boycott activism by unions and federations of academics across the world, and we are particularly grateful for such clarity and principled solidarity.
The sincere solidarity with Palestinian educators and indeed with the Palestinian people at large shown by Irish academic trade unionists is particularly welcome and timely in light of Israel’s recent escalation of its colonial and racist policies against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, for the last six decades, Israel has treated its own Palestinian citizens with institutionalized racism that meets the UN definition of the crime of apartheid, while denying millions of Palestinian refugees, ethnically cleansed in 1948, their UN-sanctioned rights, including the right to return to their homes. At this time of exceptional Israeli brutality, impunity and war crimes against the indigenous Palestinian people, especially in Gaza, the TUI has risen to its moral responsibility by taking exceptional measures to hold Israel to account.
The TUI has proven beyond doubt, just as many leading Irish artists have in 2010, that effective solidarity with the oppressed, including by isolating the oppressor, is the most morally and politically sound contribution to the struggle to end oppression and to promote human rights as well as a just future for all.
– Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)
– General Union of Palestinian Teachers (represents primary & secondary education teachers)
– University Teachers’ Association (Gaza)
– General Union of Palestinian Writers
(IPSC – www.ipsc.ie)