Provost Patrick Prendergast will visit Israel next month as part of official College engagements, in order to “deepen engagement in the region”. Prendergast, who has been an outspoken supporter of academic links with Israeli universities, is set to meet with alumni and philanthropists.
A spokesperson for College stated: “A delegation from Trinity including the Provost is going to Israel next month as we deepen engagement in the region. Last year the Provost travelled to several Arab countries to meet university leaders and alumni.”
The spokesperson continued: “The trip will explore options for students who would like to study Hebrew. Like most trips, this visit will also include meetings with alumni and potential philanthropists.” A full itinerary of the trip was not provided by College.
The visit follows the recent establishment of the Middle Eastern and European Languages and Cultures undergraduate degree.
This will be the second official visit to Israel that Prendergast has made. Prendergast previously visited Israel on an academic trip in 2015 where he signed a memorandum of understanding with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which is located in the occupied West Bank. He also addressed a crowd at the Weizmann Institute of Science, which has known connections to the country’s nuclear weapons programme. Trinity’s Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI) continues to maintain a partnership with the institute. Trinity News previously reported on an investigation conducted by Academics for Palestine (AfP) in February 2014 found that Trinity academics had collaborated with Israeli institutions and corporations on projects listed as “security”, including one with Israeli drone manufacturers, Elbit Security Systems. In 2015, College announced that they were conducting a review of Trinity’s ties to Israel.
Kenneth Kelly, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) told Trinity News that they are “disappointed, but not surprised” with this planned trip. “The escalating violence against peaceful protesters in Gaza, the increasing rate of displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank and the recently passed apartheid Nation-State laws make this visit by the Provost even more reprehensible,” said Kelly.
SJP have called for the cancellation of this visit “in line with the democratic will of students”. Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) recently passed a pro-BDS mandate, voted in by referendum.