Open Letter to the Board of Governors of Trondheim University: Boycott the Israeli Academy Now!

Occupied Ramallah
3 November 2009

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) applauds faculty members at the University of Trondheim and University College of Sí¸r-Trí¸ndelag in Norway for their principled support for the cause of justice in Palestine by proposing a motion to boycott Israeli universities. This is a historic step in the direction of applying effective pressure on Israel and holding it accountable for its colonial and apartheid policies which violate international law and fundamental human rights. If the motion is passed, these universities would be the first academic institutions in the world to declare that they will not cooperate with the Israeli academy.

We urge the Board of Governors of the University of Trondheim and University College of Sí¸r-Trí¸ndelag to declare at their upcoming meeting that Israeli universities and academic institutions cannot be normal partners of any self-respecting Norwegian institution. Indeed, it has to be recognized by academics the world over that Israeli universities are part and parcel of the structures of domination and oppression of the Palestinian people. They have played a direct and indirect role in promoting, justifying, developing or supporting the state”s racist policies and persistent violations of human rights and international law. Most recently, and only as an example, a Tel Aviv University publication announced with pride that the Research & Development Directorate of the Israeli Ministry of Defense is currently funding 55 projects at the university; it went on to quote the head of the Security Studies Program at the University that “military R&D in Israel would not exist without the universities. They carry out all the basic scientific investigation, which is then developed either by the defence industries or the army.” [1] It should be noted that this is the same Ministry of Defense that executed the relentless and bloody war against the Palestinians in Gaza last December and January, murdering over 1400 Palestinians, more than 300 of whom were children, and wounding over 5000 people. Many neighborhoods were reduced to rubble, and educational institutions, such as schools and whole buildings of the Islamic University campus, were destroyed. In general, the Israeli academy sees nothing wrong with partnering with the Israeli military machine, to say the least.

The sincere solidarity with Palestine shown by Norwegian academics is particularly timely in light of the recent Israeli war of aggression against the people of Gaza and the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip. The impunity of Israel must be challenged. Academic and cultural boycotts are effective measures available to world civil society to indicate its intolerance of oppression and as a means to bear pressure upon Israel to cease its campaign of ethnic cleansing and colonial control over the Palestinian people. The PACBI call for boycott in 2004 of Israeli academic and cultural institutions [2], like the Palestinian civil society”s widely endorsed call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) in 2005 [3], is based on the same moral principle embodied in the international civil society campaign against the apartheid regime in South Africa: that people of conscience must take a stand against oppression and use all the means of civil resistance available to bring it to an end.

We urge the Board of Governors to pass the boycott motion in its meeting on November 12, 2009, and to join the growing global movement for justice for the Palestinian people.


[1] Tel Aviv University Review, “In Defense of the Nation,” Winter 2008-2009. Tel Aviv University: Marketing and Donor Relations Department, 2009.

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