PETITION: Support Jake Lynch’s Academic Boycott of Israel and End USyd’s Collaboration with the Technion

To: Vice Chancellor Michael Spence, Dean of Sydney Medical School Professor Bruce Robinson, Associate Dean (International) of Sydney Medical School and Director of the Office for Global Health, Professor Merrilyn Walton

We the undersigned would like to express our support for Associate Professor Jake Lynch’s recent refusal to assist Israeli academic Dan Avnon of Hebrew University. Lynch is director of the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS). To accept Avnon’s proposed fellowship between the institutions would have violated the CPACS’s official commitment to the global campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law which includes a boycott of institutional links with Israeli universities.

The University of Sydney’s institutional partnerships should not come at the expense of Palestinians’ human rights. Therefore we also demand an end to the strong relationship between the University of Sydney and the Technion, an Israeli university uniquely and directly implicated in war crimes.

 Why is this important?

BDS is not an “extreme” or “radical” policy as has been made out in The Australian newspaper. Israel is a state that systematically defies international law. It has occupied Palestinian territories in defiance of the UN Security Council for over 40 years, expanding settlements which are regarded as illegal by the international community. The International Court of Justice condemned Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank as “illegal” in 2004 and a UN investigation of the 2009 Gaza war condemned Israel for “grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention” in targeting civilians. In November 2012 Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, “Pillar of Cloud”, killed 157 Palestinians including dozens of children. Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of civilians was described as a “war crime” by Human Rights Watch and was immediately followed by Israel announcing plans to build 1500 new settlement homes on illegally occupied Palestinian land.

Therefore we are disappointed that the university management seems to have attempted to distance the university from the ethical stance taken by CPACS.

The Vice Chancellor Michael Spence argues that the Australian Government’s diplomatic relations with Israel make the university boycott “inappropriate”. However, it is the failure of such local and international foreign policy to seriously challenge Israel’s disregard for international law that makes the BDS necessary. BDS is a non-violent and effective strategy to help end Israeli impunity and move towards the realisation of the Palestinians’ rights. The target of the CPACS’s boycott could not be more appropriate. The Hebrew University is clearly implicated in the illegal occupation as its Mount Scopus campus occupies land in East Jerusalem which is internationally recognised  as being on the Palestinian side of the Green Line.

The stance taken by CPACS has made clear that the University of Sydney’s institutional partnerships should not come at the expense of Palestinians’ human rights. It is thus troubling to observe the strong relationship between the University of Sydney and Israeli universities, none of which has ever made a public statement critical of the occupation or Israel’s systematic denial of Palestinian human rights, including refugee rights. Most troubling of all are the links with the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The Technion, through its ties to arms manufacturing and development, is an Israeli university uniquely and directly implicated in war crimes. The Technion’s research history includes the development of the remote control D9 bulldozer used to demolish Palestinian homes in violation of the Geneva Conventions and it has strong links to Elbit Systems – the company that produces technology for the apartheid wall declared illegal by the International Court of Justice.

As such, we demand, as a first step:

i) That the Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence immediately establish a policy to end all existing and further academic, research and student exchange relationships with the Technion.

ii) That the Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence, Dean of Sydney Medical School Professor Bruce Robinson, and the Associate Dean (International) of Sydney Medical School and Director of the Office for Global Health Professor Merrilyn Walton immediately end the current partnership between the Technion and the University of Sydney Health Faculties.

Sign the petition here: http://www.communityrun.org/petitions/support-jake-lynch-s-academic-boycott-of-israel-and-end-usyd-s-collaboration-with-the-technion

For more information please contact:

Ailin from Students for Justice in Palestine USyd at ailinnaderbegi1@hotmail.com OR

Bjorn Wallin at b.k.wallin@gmail.com

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