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January 23, 2009

PFUUPE Salutes UK Students

The Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) salutes the solidarity actions of students from universities across England in response to Israelís war crimes in Gaza. Students from eleven universities have occupied buildings in their campuses in solidarity with Palestinian rights, including the right to education, and in outrage over Israelís rolling massacres and wanton destruction in Gaza, including many educational institutions, in its latest war of aggression on Gaza and the year and a half of its criminal siege of Gaza that continues till today.

Students from the School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS), the London School of Economics (LSE), Kings College, Oxford University, University of Warwick, University of Leeds, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Sussex, Newcastle University, University of Birmingham, and the University of Essex have all acted to pressure their respective university administrations to respond to their demands.

In part, the studentsí demands have included calls for their universities to condemn the attacks on Palestinian educational institutions as well as urging official mechanisms and programs that would support the right to education for all Palestinians. In light of the atrocities committed by the Israeli army in Gaza, students have also demanded that their universities pursue practical steps towards divesting from companies and institutions implicated in Israeli occupation of Palestine and its violation of international law.

We in PFUUPE are grateful for the hard and principled work of our colleagues in the British academic community over the past years in support of the cause of justice and peace in Palestine and for Palestinian academic freedom, in particular. The University and College Unionís 2008 motion condemning the complicity of Israeli academic institutions in the perpetuation of Israelís occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people gives an excellent example of these efforts. We acknowledge the latest forms of student activism in England and elsewhere as a welcome continuation of those efforts aimed at holding Israel accountable for its injustice and crimes.

The bombing of the Islamic University, scores of public and UNRWA schools, and the headquarters of the University Teachersí Association-Palestine in Gaza is only the latest episode in an ongoing Israeli policy of undermining and directly targeting Palestinian educational institutions. In light of this policy of the occupation, the effective solidarity of academics and students worldwide, particularly in the form of boycott, is particularly significant and highly appreciated by Palestinian academics. By their work in protest of these barbaric acts, our comrades have shown that this destruction cannot and will not occur in silence and without protest.

Israelís murderous rampage in Gaza was described by leading international jurists as constituting a war crime, even a crime against humanity. It has caused over 1300 deaths and the injury of more than 5000 Palestinians, the great majority of whom are civilians. As the dust begins to settle in Gaza, we are only now beginning to comprehend the enormity of the indiscriminate destruction caused by the Israeli attacks.

We strongly admire and support the students in the United Kingdom who are calling for boycott and divestment, urging their universities not just to protest and condemn Israel's massacre in Gaza, but also to join and intensify the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel to end its impunity and to hold it accountable for its persistent violations of international law and Palestinian rights. We agree that, without sustained, effective pressure by people of conscience the world over, Israel will continue with its gradual, rolling acts of genocide against the Palestinians.

We urge academics around the world to intensify their boycott of Israeli academic institutions, and to isolate the Israeli academy in international forums, associations of academics, and other international venues. Israeli academic institutions are complicit in the entrenched system of oppression practiced by the Israeli state, and their silence at this critical moment is only the most vociferous indicator of this complicity.

Dr. Amjad Barham

Posted on 28-01-2009

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