Israeli Hawkademia in Australian Universities

By Vacy Vlazna

The Israeli ‘defense’ industry is embedded in Israeli universities and in universities around the world including Australia. It plunders overseas intellectual property for Israel’s military research-and-development (R&D) programs while strategic bi-lateral research and exchange missions deliberately whitewash or ‘normalize’ the Zionist military occupation of Palestine and her people.

In Israel, Zionism and the military are undifferentiated. The IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces), the world’s fourth most powerful (nuclear) army, since the inception of the state of Israel, is duty bound to secure the fanatical Zionist goal of Eretz Yisrael or Greater Israel, which incorporates the whole of historic Palestine and beyond (from the Nile to the Euphrates).

The 1948 Nakba, the Catastrophe, which accounted  for the destruction of 500 Palestinian villages and the forceful expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians by Israeli terrorist militia (Irgun, Lehi, and Haganah) that metamorphosed  into the Israeli army, has never ended with Israel’s relentless policies of ethnic cleansing through the expansion of its illegal colonies and the illegal Annexation Wall on stolen Palestinian land perforated moreover by hundreds of checkpoints and roadblocks manned by belligerent IOF.

Under international law, Israel’s military occupation of Palestine is illegal and yet it has impunity to defy UN Resolutions and to daily commit war crimes because of US, EU, Canadian and Australian support as well as the $3.1 billion in Israeli military assistance granted annually from the US State Department budget.

“Israeli defense sales in 2010 totaled 7.2 billion U.S. dollars, making the small nation the world’s fourth largest exporter…Most of the sales are from four leading companies: Elbit Systems, Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI), Rafael, and Israel Military Industries ..Strong points of Israel’s arms industry include unmanned aerial vehicles, armoured vehicles, smart munitions, military and civilian aircraft avionics, weapons platforms and structural upgrades for foreign governments and private clients.”

It is Palestinian men, women, teenagers and children who are the guinea pigs of Israel’s ‘battle-tested’ weaponry.

Israeli defense companies as well as their joint venture US/UK defense partners have subsidiaries in Australia- Elbit Australia, Oracle Australia, Thales Australia, Raytheon Australia and have footholds in and associations with Australian universities.

In November 2011, Elbit Systems joined the Australian Defense Department’s Rapid Prototyping, Development and Evaluation Program. The University of Western Australia and Edith Cowan University also joined. “Elbit Systems and its subsidiaries contribute directly to two of the most insidious facets of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory: the indiscriminate assaults on civilian populations, through the provision of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s or ‘drones’) and other military equipment to Occupation forces; and the ever-tightening ghettoization of the West Bank, through the provision of surveillance and electronics systems along the Apartheid Wall and settlements. During Israel’s 23-day assault in Gaza in 2008-09, missiles fired from drones were directly attributed to the killing of 78 Palestinians, including 29 children. Like all Israeli firms operating the military technology sector, endless war and occupation create valuable marketing opportunities. Elbit UAVs, for example, can be sold on the global market as ‘battle tested’ devices, significantly increasing their appeal and leading to their adoption by a number of militaries.”

The ZEN Entrepreneurs’ Challenge is a student business planning competition run by the Entrepreneurship, Commercialization and Innovation Centre at the University of Adelaide. ‘Participants work with dedicated mentors to cultivate their entrepreneurial plans including marketing thanks to Dr. Ben-Ari who joined Elbit Systems in 1978 and is, since 2001, Managing Director of Elbit Systems Singapore.

The Edith Cowan University’s Security Management program is offering academic credit to delegates on completion of the 2013 “Security Fundamentals Tour of Israel designed to provide a select group of security specialists and professionals with an insight into Israel’s critical infrastructure security and what continues to drive Israel to be one of the leading security technology providers.” The tour includes the euphemistically named ‘Separation’ Wall which is in fact an Apartheid/Annexation Wall deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004 and also includes the security, passenger screening and deterrence applications of Ben Gurion Airport which last month detained and deported volunteers invited to Palestine to help build a school for blind children. Last year, Australians Vivienne Porzsolt and Sylvia Hale were also arrested and detained at Ben Gurion for having the temerity of wanting to visit Marrickville’s sister city, Bethlehem.

In February, a guest speaker at Deakin University’s 7th Annual International Electromaterials Science Symposium was A/Prof. Yair Ein – Eli, He had been Director of Research and Battery Technology at Electric Fuel Ltd before joining the Department of Materials Engineering at the Technion. Electric Fuel Ltd is a subsidiary of the Arotech Corporation which has facilities in Israel and “operates through three major business divisions: High-level armoring for military and nonmilitary air and ground vehicles; interactive simulation for military, law enforcement and commercial markets, and batteries and charging systems for the military’.

Each Israeli university has societies worldwide that encourage and facilitate academic and scientific exchanges and collaboration. ‘Recent exchanges organized by The Technion Society of Australia have included Technion staff at Sydney University, University of NSW, University of Newcastle, Victoria University, University of Adelaide and Australian National University.’ On staff at the University of Western Sydney is a professor with Technion associations and experience in military and civilian R&D. Both Elbit and Rafael Advanced Systems (run by the Israeli Ministry for Defence)have long-standing partnerships with the hawkish Technion.

In May 2008 was the launch of the AICC s inaugural WA Innovation and Business Development Mission to Israel, supported by the WA State Governments Department of Industry and Resources and coordinated by the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA) Inc. (AICC). Among delegates were representatives from the University of Western Australia and Murdoch University. Mr R McCulloch representing Murdoch University’s interest in water research and renewable energy institutes praised Israel’s “immediate interest and openness to finding partners” though, of course this excludes Palestinians whose critical water resources are stolen, controlled and/or demolished by Israel.

The University of Johannesburg which had a joint water project with Ben Gurion University severed links in 2011 because it found "detailed, factual evidence and information regarding Ben Gurion’s direct and indirect role in further entrenching the violations of human rights and international law by the Israeli state".

Innocuous academic interchange can promote normalization whereby Israeli oppression, racism and apartheid is accepted as the ‘normal’ status quo.

The Yachad Accelerated Learning Project designed to improve outcomes and address inequalities in Indigenous and Remote education was set up with the support of  Melbourne and Monash Universities and The Hebrew University (Michael Federmann, the Chairman of Elbit Systems is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors of Hebrew University). In 2007 an Australian Yachad delegation enthusiastically visited the Bedouin village of Kseyfeh aware or unaware that the per capita spending per Bedouin student is less than half Israel’s average and that 40% of indigenous Bedouins are threatened by forced transfer policies and live in Unrecognized Villages systematically deprived of water, electricity, health care, education yet not deprived of incessant home demolitions.

The information presented here about the relationship between Australian universities and the Israeli occupation of Palestine is merely the tip of a very grubby iceberg. Australian universities by their degrading prostration to funding donors associated with Zionist Israel have lost their moral equilibrium and the purpose and ideals of academia. Dissenting academics are rare. Few emulate Professor Jake Lynch’s protest of the 2011 Israel Research Forum at the University of Sydney with guest experts from the The Weizmann Institute of Science, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and Tel Aviv University, all of which collaborate with the Israeli military industry.

Academics and students, concerned for the human rights of the people of Palestine, must investigate their university finances and demand divestment from and boycott of companies and Israeli universities that are implicated in the war crimes and crimes against humanity that Palestinians suffer daily.

– Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 and was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.

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