An historic vote last week by Ireland’s teachers’ union to endorse an academic boycott of Israel may be undermined by a “massive backlash” from Irish and international supporters of Israel, states the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Committee, which is urging folks to respond to that backlash.
Meantime, Palestinian teachers unions and the Israeli group Boycott from Within have written letters in support of the Irish teachers’ union’s decision.
What follows are three documents. First the statement from the Solidarity Committee, then the letters from Israel and Palestine.
At its Annual Congress last week, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) became the first academic union in Europe to endorse the Palestinian call for an academic boycott of Israel. The motion, which passed unanimously, refers to Israel as an “apartheid state” and calls for “all members to cease all cultural and academic collaboration with Israel, including the [institutional] exchange of scientists, students and academic personalities, as well as all cooperation in research programmes”.
Palestinian academics, teachers and writers have already expressed their support for this motion, but it is important that you do so too. Why? It’s probable that the TUI will face a massive backlash from domestic and international apologists for Israeli apartheid for taking this principled stand in solidarity with Palestinians, and messages expressing support for this move are important to counter this.
We ask you to go to the TUI website and use the contact form there (use a valid email address, put your location where it says ‘branch/area’, and your message where it says ‘request’) to send a short message of support – even something as simple as
“I am writing to thank the TUI for taking a principled stand for peace and justice in Palestine and Israel. You have my full support for your stance in favour an academic boycott of Israel.”
It will only take one minute to do – so please take the time to do so! Many thanks.
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Palestinian Academics, Teachers and Writers Salute the Teachers Union of Ireland
7 April 2013
We, representatives of academics, teachers and writers in the occupied Palestinian territory, salute the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) for its principled support for the cause of justice in Palestine by voting unanimously, at its Annual Congress on 4th April 2013, to endorse the Palestinian call for the academic boycott of Israel. Becoming the first academic union in Europe to formally adopt the academic boycott cause, the TUI has revived the noble legacy of Irish support for the boycott against South African apartheid and bolstered international support for the Palestinian call, endorsed by an overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society, to apply effective pressure on Israel and hold it accountable for its system of occupation, colonization and apartheid that violates international law and fundamental human rights.
Given the deep complicity of Israel’s academic institutions in planning, implementing, justifying and whitewashing Israel’s multi-tiered system of oppression against the Palestinian people, all these institutions should be boycotted and held to account, as the TUI has affirmed.
We are particularly heartened by the fact that the motion passed at your Congress is unequivocal; it calls on “all members to cease all cultural and academic collaboration with Israel, including the [institutional] exchange of scientists, students and academic personalities, as well as all cooperation in research programmes.” Such a clear and principled stand is unprecedented in the several years of academic boycott activism by unions and federations of academics across the world, and we are particularly grateful for such clarity and principled solidarity.
The sincere solidarity with Palestinian educators and indeed with the Palestinian people at large shown by Irish academic trade unionists is particularly welcome and timely in light of Israel’s recent escalation of its colonial and racist policies against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, for the last six decades, Israel has treated its own Palestinian citizens with institutionalized racism that meets the UN definition of the crime of apartheid, while denying millions of Palestinian refugees, ethnically cleansed in 1948, their UN-sanctioned rights, including the right to return to their homes. At this time of exceptional Israeli brutality, impunity and war crimes against the indigenous Palestinian people, especially in Gaza, the TUI has risen to its moral responsibility by taking exceptional measures to hold Israel to account.
The TUI has proven beyond doubt, just as many leading Irish artists have in 2010, that effective solidarity with the oppressed, including by isolating the oppressor, is the most morally and politically sound contribution to the struggle to end oppression and to promote human rights as well as a just future for all.
– Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)
– General Union of Palestinian Teachers (represents primary & secondary education teachers)
– University Teachers’ Association (Gaza)
– General Union of Palestinian Writers
And this is the letter from Boycott From Within:
We Israeli Palestinians and Jews would like to thank the Teachers Union of Ireland for their principled and progressive stand in endorsing the academic boycott of Israel. The boycott of Israeli academic institutions is fully justified because of their complicity in the occupation of Palestine, because of the ongoing Israeli assault on Palestinian education, but most importantly because it offers a non-violent and effective way to put pressure on the Israeli government to change its ways. Like South Africa before it, Israel will need to be subjected to intense international pressure to ensure it accepts international law and human rights norms. Until Israel is sanctioned for its actions, it will continue the occupation of Palestinian territories, and continue flouting international law, human rights law, and United Nations resolutions. Again, we commend the courage and principle of the Teachers Union of Ireland in passing this academic boycott resolution. Acts of solidarity such as this can only help those in Palestine and Israel who work for justice and equality.
BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within