A group of Italian professors recently published a letter calling for the academic boycott of Israel “against university and cultural discrimination of Palestinians.” The document–called “Right to study and academic freedom in Palestine”–expressly quotes the AIC bulletin Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions in the Occupation of Palestinian Territories. The promoters of the initiative are Danilo Zolo and Angelo Baracca (University of Firenze), Giorgio Gallo and Martina Pignatti Morano (University of Pisa), Giorgio Forti (University of Milano), Cinzia Nachira (university of Salento).
The letter, based on research done in Israeli and Palestinian universities, denounces violations of the right to education, freedom of teaching and thought in Israel and Palestine. The signatories of the document explain that in 2009 “Italy became the first partner of Israel in Europe regarding the scientific and technological research.” The authors ask for more awareness about discrimination and cultural rights violations committed by Israel.
The letter highlights the fact that Israel has been sharply conditioning the academic life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since the first Intifada. From October 2000, following the outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada, to 2008, 658 Palestinian students and 37 professors were killed, 4,852 injured and 738 imprisoned. The economic loss has been estimated at around 2.3 million U.S. dollars. During the Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, 164 Palestinian students and 12 professors were killed.
The Italian researchers–mostly belonging to the University of Pisa, one of the most prominent Italian universities and strongly involved in the Israeli apartheid week activities and in the BDS campaign–highlight the discriminations against Arab students in Israel and bring to mind the case of the Israeli campus in the illegal colony of Ariel. The letter openly defines Israeli politics as an ethnocide and fears a “radical loss of historical knowledge and cultural and linguistic identity.”
The professors call for signing their letter and propose new forms of cultural cooperation between Italian and Palestinian universities. The letter concludes that the first project could be a national seminar about these topics.