A new student campaign is calling on College to cut its links with institutions and companies that support the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. In an online petition created today, the ‘TCD Apartheid-Free Campus Campaign’ says it wants College to end research ties with Israeli institutions that have not condemned Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, as well as security firms operating in the occupied areas. It says it will work “to end academic complicity in the policies and crimes of apartheid states internationally.”
The campaign launch comes after members of the Academics for Palestine (AfP) organisation last year revealed that College has worked with Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Security Systems and two other Israeli firms on an airport security project, as well as a separate project with Israel’s International Security and Counter-Terrorism Academy.
In a statement to Trinity News, campaign organiser Ciaran O’Rourke said he created the petition after several unsuccessful attempts to raise concerns over College’s research and funding affiliations with Israeli institutions and firms.
“In advance of organising the Apartheid-Free Campus Campaign, on August 13th (and after) I emailed the Office of the Provost (and the Chancellor of the university) to comment on TCD’s research links in light of the recent intensification of Israel’s violations of international law in Palestine,” he said. “Receiving no reply privately, I made my enquiry on several of TCD’s official facebook pages (Global Relations, TCD, etc) as well as on the Mary Robinson Climate Foundation’s facebook page, and received no comment. The ‘petition’ element of the Apartheid-Free Campus Campaign was thus motivated by a desire for open communication, for much-needed offical response, and for affirmative action from the Office of the Provost (and subsequently from the Board of TCD) regarding the university’s research and funding ties with Israeli institutions.”
O’Rourke said the campaign has been inspired by College’s record of solidarity against apartheid in South Africa.
“Aside from the official renaming of House 6 as Mandela House in 2013, there are the likes of Kader Asmal associated with the university,” he said. “Kader Asmal lectured in the Law Department here for almost 30 years, and later became Minister for Education and Minister for Water Policy in post-apartheid South Africa. He, and many of his TCD colleagues, were at the forefront of the Irish anti-apartheid movement from the 60s onwards. His example, and that of his colleagues and co-campaigners, is an inspiration.”
While there are no academics formally involved in the campaign, O’Rourke said he has been advised by two lecturers that are prominent members of AfP.