The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism

British Society for Middle Eastern Studies endorses boycott of Israeli universities

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Durham – The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) has endorsed the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, in a vote taken at its AGM in Leeds on Monday.

According to reports on social media, the resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign was easily passed, with almost 80 percent support (final numbers to be confirmed).

The resolution highlights Israel’s obstruction of “Palestinians’ right to education by destroying Palestinian universities and schools, arresting students, raiding and forcing Palestinian universities to close, and restricting Palestinians’ movement”.

The text goes on to describe the “key role” played by Israeli universities “in planning, implementing and justifying Israel’s illegal military occupation”, and claims such institutions “are maintaining a close and supportive relationship with the Israeli military”.

The text of the resolution:

We, the undersigned BRISMES members, believe that it is time for our Society to resolve to endorse the long-standing call to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

We wish therefore to bring a resolution to this effect to the Society’s Annual General Meeting of 24 June 2019.

In accordance with BRISMES’ procedure, we hereby submit the below resolution at least 14 days in advance of the AGM for inclusion on the agenda.

The resolution is proposed by Professor John Chalcraft (LSE) and seconded by Dr Rafeef Ziadah (SOAS).

The text of the resolution is as follows:

Resolution to Endorse the Call to Boycott Israeli Academic Institutions

Whereas, the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) is committed to encouraging and promoting the study of the Middle East in the United Kingdom and, specifically, to bring together teachers, researchers, students, diplomats, journalists and others who deal professionally with the Middle East;

Whereas, in the occupied West Bank, the continued construction of the Wall, illegal settlement enterprise and a network of military checkpoints are creating an irreversible reality of permanent military occupation, while Israel’s siege of Gaza has condemned its inhabitants, who live in a vast open air prison, to poverty and the constant threat of military force;

Whereas, Israel has obstructed Palestinians’ right to education by destroying Palestinian universities and schools, arresting students, raiding and forcing Palestinian universities to close, and restricting Palestinians’ movement;

Whereas, Israel has restricted international academics from accessing Palestinian universities, including long-term travel bans to the occupied Palestinian territories;

Whereas, Israeli universities are playing a key role in planning, implementing and justifying Israel’s illegal military occupation and are maintaining a close and supportive relationship with the Israeli military, including involvement in developing weapon systems, providing justification for military actions and extra-judicial killings, rewarding students serving in the occupation forces, designing and delivering special programmes for soldiers and officers, building on occupied land, and systematically discriminating against non-Jewish students;

Whereas, Palestinian civil society, including the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees, has called on people of conscience around the world to join them in carrying out campaigns of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as a form of non-violent pressure on Israel until it complies with international law.

Be it resolved that:

BRISMES will show solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues living under military occupation and siege by endorsing the call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions until these institutions publicly end their support and complicity in violating Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law;

BRISMES will facilitate educational events, discussions and debates among its membership on the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, including through its publications, conferences and relevant events;

BRISMES will educate its members about ways to apply the boycott of Israeli academic institutions in their own professional practice, and encourage them to do so. This boycott pertains to Israeli academic institutions only and not to individual scholars.

BRISMES will support the rights of scholars to engage in research about, to publish work about, and to speak publicly in support of, the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.