A group of academics has come forward to “disassociate ourselves from our colleagues’ and friends’ call to boycott Israeli Universities”. On November 7th, a letter appeared in the Irish Times condemning the proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
This was in response to an earlier letter that appeared in the Irish Times that called for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions due to the ongoing conflict in Israel-Palestine. This letter was signed by 633 academics at the time, over 80 of which were from UCD.
The letter response this spurred was signed by 24 academics, 11 of whom, including the primary author Edward Burke, are from UCD. They discouraged the act of boycott claiming that “Universities are vital bridges for connecting critical and dissenting voices worldwide” and that this is “a time when more dialogue is needed, not less”.
In addition to their dismay regarding the boycott, they also expressed shock at the “perfunctory language” of their colleagues’ letter when addressing the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7th.
The academics against the boycott criticised their colleagues’ neglect to mention the 241 hostages taken by Hamas and declared their silence on this point to be “incomprehensible” and claimed it should “prompt some soul searching”.
The signatories of the November 7th letter also “disagree with those who regard Israel’s current actions as genocide”. Further stating that “any war, and this war in particular, is a terrible outbreak of brutality that claims innocent lives. But not all war is genocide”.
However, the academics outline that they do not intend to excuse “Israel’s excessive use of violence and actions that consciously aggravate an already extreme humanitarian crisis”. Stating they believe that “such evils should be condemned in the strongest possible terms”.
The signatories question the value of a boycott when there are “Israeli Universities that have voiced clear opposition to policies of the current ultra-nationalist coalition which are aimed at curtailing human rights”. They proceed to implore their fellow academics to “stand with them in their opposition and not weaken them”.
The letter concludes by highlighting that any planned boycott would threaten EU-funded exchange programmes which prioritise students and staff of Palestinian descent. In turn, they ask “Should we boycott these?”
Ellen Clusker – Assistant News Editor
The Full List of UCD Signatories is as Follows:
Edward Burke, UCD School of History,
Marc Caball, UCD School of History,
Declan Downey, UCD School of History,
Jacob Eisenberg, UCD School of Business,
Bryan Fanning, UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice,
David Farrell, UCD School of Politics and International Relations,
Roy Fletcher, UCD School of History,
Andreas Hess, UCD School of Sociology,
Elva Johnston, UCD School of History,
Or Skornik, UCD School of Chemical Engineering
Lior Tibet, UCD School of History,
Ben Tonra, UCD School of Politics and International Relations,
Fionnuala Walsh, UCD School of History.