Israeli offensive in Gaza

Madam, – There has been widespread international condemnation of Israel”s bombardment and subsequent invasion of Gaza, which has been defined by international lawyers as a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention. No civilians, Israelis or Palestinian, should be subjected to attack, whether from rockets from Gaza or bombs and bullets from Israel. However, while every government has both the right and responsibility to defend its civilian population, we believe that Israel”s violent actions are disproportionate and constitute collective punishment of a civilian population.

We also note that Israeli spokespersons themselves have admitted that prior to Israels killing of six Hamas members in the Nov 4th attack on Gaza, Hamas appears to have abided by its ceasefire agreement with Israel, firing no rockets and trying to prevent other groups from doing so. This begs the question: what is the real reason behind the onslaught?

In addition, we note that during its recent offensive Israel expressly targeted educational institutions, including the Islamic University, the Ministry of Education, the American International School, and three UN schools which were destroyed with massive loss of civilian life. During the illegal sealing off of the Gaza Strip that preceded the current aggression, Israel had prevented numerous Palestinian students from leaving Gaza to avail of Fulbright scholarships to the USA.

We believe that it is time to renew the call made by Irish-based academics in September 2006 for a moratorium on the funding of Israeli academic institutions by national and European cultural and research institutions, and an end to the EU”s practice of treating Israel as a European state for the purposes of awarding grants and contracts. Such a moratorium should continue until Israel ends its repressive policies against Gaza, and abides by UN resolutions (which include the ending of the occupation of all Palestinian territories).

We believe that opposition to such a move based on the principle of academic freedom has lost the last semblance of validity in view of the above-mentioned violations of the right to education enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art. 26), the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (art. 28 ) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (art. 14). – Yours, etc,

Prof JAMES ANDERSON, Department of Geography, Queen”s University Belfast, Co-Director, Centre for International Borders Research;

Prof JOE CLEARY, Department of English, NUI Maynooth;

Prof SEAMUS DEANE, University of Notre Dame;


Prof TADHG FOLEY, Department of English Chair of the Board, Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway;

Prof LUKE GIBBONS, University of Notre Dame;

Dr PAULA GILLIGAN, Department of Humanities IADT;

Prof ROBBIE GILLIGAN, School of Social Work and Social Policy, TCD;

PADDY HEALY, School of Physics, DIT;

DAVID LANDY, Department of Sociology, TCD;

Prof MADELEINE LEONARD, School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Queens University Belfast;

Prof KATHLEEN LYNCH, Equality Studies Centre, School of Social Justice, University College Dublin;

An Dr SEOSAMH MacMUIRí, Grág Na Fearna, Broim Dhá Thiar, Co, Liatroma

Prof TERRENCE McDONOUGH, Department of Economics, NUI Galway;

Prof STEPHEN MENNELL, School of Sociology, UCD;

Prof PATRICK MURPHY, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, UCC;

Dr EPHRAIM NIMNI, School of Politics, International Studies Philosophy, Queen”s University Belfast;

Dr EMER NOLAN, Department of English, NUI Maynooth;

Dr Fí‰ILIM í“ hADHMAIL, Department of Applied Social Studies,UCC;

Prof PATRICK O”FLANAGAN, Department of Geography, UCC;

Prof PASCHAL PRESTON, School of Communications, DCU;

Prof HELENA SHEEHAN, School of Communications, DCU;

Prof ALAN TITLEY, Roinn na Nua-Ghaeilge, Coláiste na hOllscoile,Corcaigh;

And 126 others.

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