We, Israeli professors for justice and peace, do hereby appeal to researchers, academics, scholars and teachers, in Israel and throughout the world, to take a firm and clear stand against the continuing occupation and denial of rights.
We are, of course, referring to the continuing British occupation of territories in which Britain clearly has no right to be. We demand that all British universities, and all academics at those universities, be boycotted until these same institutions and individuals come out clearly and openly in favor of immediate unconditional removal of all British occupation from these territories. We demand a moratorium on all funding of academic research in Britain and divestment from Britain in all its forms.
Unlike Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (the latter of which is not occupied any longer in any way), which has lasted a mere 40 years, Britain’s occupations of territories has lasted centuries.
Take, for example, the clearly illegal British occupation of Gibraltar. There, Britain maintains an illegal settlement in open defiance of all internationally accepted standards of legitimacy and concepts of national rights. Moreover, Britain has placed there an illegal security fence that prevents non-British nationals from entering Gibraltar. This “apartheid fence” is a human rights atrocity and must be torn down at once. And until it is, the entire world should divest from Britain and boycott British universities.
Then there are those clearly illegal British settlements constructed on occupied Argentinian territory in the Falkland Islands. What clearer example is there of the continuing colonial aggression of white European imperialism against the Third World?
But Britain’s illegal settlements have also been constructed elsewhere. Britain continues to maintain settlements on the Channel Islands that obviously belong to France. While it is true that Britain earlier ended its occupations of Hong Kong and India, that is no excuse for its settlements elsewhere. After all, Israel ended its occupation of Sinai, but that has not stopped the British University and College Union, representing more than 120,000 college-level educators, from voting on May 30 to pass a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academics and universities, as well as a moratorium on European Union funding of Israeli research.
And what about Britain’s occupation forces in Afghanistan and Iraq? True, Afghanistan and Iraq were terrorist enclaves, but since when does that serve to legitimize the dispatch of occupation forces? British professors clearly do not think that Israel has any right to use force against terrorists attacking its population, so why should British forces do so?
Of course, the very worst cases of illegal English occupation are in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. These are occupations imposed upon those oppressed populations by force of arms. And in Ireland, the occupation produced genocidal levels of mortality. These occupations have lasted for centuries.
The moral indifference by British academics to these continued barbarous occupations and to the denial of self-determination for Scots, Welsh and the Northern Irish is clearly as unforgivable as the failure of some academics in apartheid South Africa to speak out against abuses there.
Moreover, England itself is a racist apartheid society. Not only the Welsh, but Muslims, Blacks, and Asians suffer from discrimination and disadvantage inside Britain. Their wages are lower than those of white Englishmen and they face discrimination in housing. British universities have failed to redress these inequalities.
If divestment from South Africa was justified, it is all the more so in this case. In fact, 27 British professors have endorsed our calls for imposing an international boycott of their own universities. These courageous, heroic souls must be supported.
We have sat in silence for much too long. The time has come. Please join us in calling for an open-ended boycott of British academics and universities until all these cases of occupation are ended.
Israeli Professors for Justice and Peace
Steven Plaut, Chairperson
Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press and The Jewish Press Blog (www.thejewishpress.blogspot.com), is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.