Irish academics participated in EU-funded aerospace and security projects with Israeli manufacturers of drones and weapons, members of the Academics for Palestine (AfP) organisation have claimed. AfP’s investigation into Irish-Israeli research links found that Irish universities collaborated with Israeli institutions in 257 academic projects to date, seven of them listed as “security” and 13 as “aerospace”.
The group’s examination of EU documents revealed that Trinity academics have worked with Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Security Systems and two other Israeli firms on an airport security project, still ongoing, as well as a separate project with Israel’s notorious International Security and Counter-Terrorism Academy.
Their investigation also found that the University of Limerick worked with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the company responsible for the development of security and surveillance for Israel’s separation wall, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Limerick researches also collaborated in an EU-funded programme with an Israeli security company, Athena GS3-Security Implementations Ltd, which claims on its website to be a world-leading counter-terror advisory group with indigenous expertise from Mossad and other elite Israeli counter terrorist units.
The findings of AfP’s investigation were revealed today at an event to mark the launch of an academic pledge to boycott Israel.
Speaking at the launch, Professor Haim Bresheeth of SOAS said that Irish universities are complicit in the “military-industrial-academic complex” that has made Israel one the largest arms exporters in the world. He told gathered academics that EU research programmes administered by Irish commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn in Israeli universities are used by the Israeli state to develop technology to strengthen its military and surveillance operations. “The conflict in Palestine has now reached its ‘South African moment’ – the point at which Israeli apartheid has been recognised as such by the international community,” he said.
Dr Ghada Karmi of the University of Exeter said that the Irish academic boycott of Israel is part of a growing mobilisation of civil society against the actions of the Israeli state. “Despite all that has been written about them, Palestinians are essentially alone,” she said. “They are not people who enjoy the support and funding that Israel enjoys from the international community. The burden has fallen to civil society.”
Dr Karmi also spoke about the challenges facing academia in Palestine. She said that academic boycotts affirm rather than threaten academic freedom. “Israel’s well-documented repression of Palestinian academic life and victimisation of Palestinian teachers and students is a scandal to be denounced by all those who claim to care about academic freedom,” she said. “Irish academics have to examine their consciousness and ask themselves if they are happy to collaborate with Israeli institutions they are complicit in this kind of oppression.”
The group has been supported so far by 138 Irish-based academics who have pledged to boycott Israeli academic, research and state institutions until Palestinian rights are respected. Eight Trinity academics – Dr Ciaran Cosgrave from the Department of Hispanic Studies; Dr David Landy, Dr Barbara Bradby, and Dr Ronit Lentin from the Department of Sociology; as well as Dr Iain Atack, Dr Jude Lal Fernando , and Dr Bill McSweeney from the Irish School of Ecumenics – are among the signatories of the boycott pledge.
The text of the pledge reads: “In response to the call from Palestinian civil society for an academic boycott of Israel, we pledge not to engage in any professional association with Israeli academic, research and state institutions and with those representing these institutions, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”