On Saturday 4 November 2023 hundreds of Irish academics co-signed a letter calling on Irish universities to “suspend” ties with Israeli institutions until the “occupation of Palestinian territory is ended”.
The letter included at least 57 signatures from Trinity academics, though many academics’ official positions within Irish colleges are not stated.
The letter states that the “scale and severity of Israel’s current war on the Gaza Strip has exceeded all previous levels of violence in the prolonged and brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine”. They added that it is a “campaign of ethnic cleansing” and “genocidal violence”.
The academics bring in many sources to back up their claims of genocide. They begin by referring to the “dehumanising language and tropes widely used by Israeli leaders in reference to Palestinians”. Which they conclude is evidence of the Israeli government’s “genocidal incitement and intent”. They also point to, “Leading Jewish and Israeli scholars of Holocaust and genocide studies have called this ‘a textbook case of genocide’”. In addition to the 800 international lawyers and genocide scholars who, after the first week of Israel’s bombardment felt compelled to sound the alarm about the possibility of a genocide being underway. As well as the UN human rights special rapporteurs who, “warned of the risk of genocide against the Palestinian people”.
Though they acknowledged the “criminal attacks against civilians” carried out by Hamas on October 7th, they said that “international law” does not permit the response from Israeli forces which had been, “the systematic bombardment and collective punishment of civilians in a besieged occupied territory”. This, they add, has led to the deaths of over, “9,000 Palestinians inside Gaza, including some 3,760 children”, which is more than the “annual number of children killed in the rest of the world’s armed conflicts combined”.
Whilst many are dying as a result of Israel’s military bombardment, the letter states that others in Palestine are dying from, “the lack of fuel, water, electricity and medical supplies due to the deliberate blockade” by Israel. Drawing attention to the current situation in Gaza’s hospitals, the letter states that they are “barely able to function”.
Even if the current conflict is brought to a halt, the academics do not want anything, “remotely approximate to business as usual continuing”.
The academics want to see an immediate end to the “Many Irish universities and EU-funded research projects have active collaborations with Israeli universities”. As they quote the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel in stating that Israel’s universities are “major, willing and persistent accomplices in Israel’s regime of occupation”.
They also allude to the discrepancy between the experiences of universities in Gaza and Israel, as multiple, “Palestinian universities in Gaza have been destroyed by the Israeli airstrikes, with some 70 academics and 2,000 students among the civilians killed”.
The letter ends by stating that anything less than the fulfilment of their demands for a suspension would “amount to tacit support for crimes against humanities”.