American Conference of Irish Studies members condemn Israeli violations of Palestinian academic freedom

The following statement was issued by attendees at the meeting of the American Conference of Irish Studies in Cork, Ireland, in June 2018. USACBI Organizing Collective member David Lloyd participated in a panel at the conference on Palestine and Ireland with Conor McCarthy, Ronit Lentin and a Palestinian academic who was forced to participate over Skype. Professors at Bir Zeit and other Palestinian universities who have U.S. or other foreign passports are denied work permits to teach in the West Bank. They are forced to overstay their entry visas in order to teach for a full academic year or semester. If they leave the country, they are declared “illegal” and denied re-entry. 

We, the undersigned attendees at the American Conference of Irish Studies, meeting in Cork, June 2018, condemn in the strongest possible terms the systematic interference by Israel’s regime of occupation in Palestinian education, academic freedom, freedom to travel and to study and research.

Such restrictions include the arbitrary and extended closure of university campuses on the West Bank; military incursions onto campuses, often using live ammunition, and the detention without trial of students and faculty; the targeting and destruction of educational institutions of all levels in the blockaded Gaza Strip; the denial to faculty and students of the right to travel for research or educational purposes; restrictions on the importation of essential school supplies and equipment; arbitrary and unpredictable road closures, checkpoints and other restrictions on daily freedom of movement that prevent both students and faculty from traveling to campus for classes, exams or other meetings, and impede the regular collaborations among institutions that are essential to a flourishing intellectual and scholarly culture.

Restrictions of these kinds seriously impede the capacity of Palestinian society to maintain and reproduce its intellectual and artistic culture.  The systematic and regular nature of the obstacles posed by Israel’s occupation and blockade to the normal course of Palestinian education suggest interference is deliberate and malevolent.

We protest the explicit policy demanding work visas while simultaneously not issuing them for Palestinian educational institutions in the OPT. The result of this policy has regularly declared faculty, Palestinian and others, who hold foreign passports to be “illegal” when they engage in teaching and research at Palestinian universities. This policy threatens both their right to reside in Palestine and their freedom to travel as it acts as a clear deterrent for the process we all know of building an academic career committed to participating in and contributing to the intellectual life, especially vital for a people under occupation.  We protest the fact that this policy has prevented Palestinian colleagues from participating in our conference and thus interfered with the free communication of research and information.

We believe that academic freedom and the right to education are fundamental and universal, and include not only the right to study, research and publish without censure or interference, but also the right to such social and political conditions as enable the enjoyment of those rights.

We therefore condemn in the strongest possible terms Israel’s ongoing interference with Palestinian academic freedom as a violation of human rights and international law.  We express our solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues and our support for their non-violent efforts to achieve their fundamental rights through the campaign for the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions.

NAME                                                  AFFILIATION (for identification only)


Andrew Auge                                        Loras College

Zsuzsanna Balázs                                 NUI Galway

Ali Bracken Ziad                                   University College Cork

Patrick Brodie                                       Concordia University, Montreal

Brendan Corcoran                                 Indiana State University

Nessa Cronin                                        NUI Galway

Ailbhe Darcy                                         Cardiff University

Alex Davis                                            University College Cork

David Doolin                                         Independent Scholar

Maureen Fadem                                    City University of New York

Deirdre Flynn                                        University of Limerick

Matthew Fogarty                                   Maynooth University

Fergal Gaynor                                      Independent Scholar

Nolan Goetzinger                                  U. California, Riverside

Peter Gray                                            Queen’s University, Belfast

Meltem Gürle                                        Trinity College Dublin

Roger Hallas                                        Syracuse University

Adam Hanna                                         University College Cork

Tara Harney-Mahajan                           Caldwell University

Mary Harris                                          NUI Galway

Walt Hunter                                          Clemson University

Cody Jarman                                        UT Austin

Lee Jenkins                                          University College Cork

Trevor Joyce                                        Aosdána

Nory Kaplan-Kelly                              U. California, Irvine

Gerry Kearns                                        Maynooth University

Jennifer Kraft                                        Columbus College of Art and Design

Heather Laird                                        University College Cork

Ronit Lentin                                          Trinity College Dublin

David Lloyd                                          U. California, Riverside

Piaras Mac Éinrí                                   University College Cork

Jessica Martell                                     Appalachian State U.

Patrick McGrath                                               Rutgers University

Sarah McKibben                                   University of Notre Dame

Mindi McMann                                      College of New Jersey

Breandán MacSuibhne                          Centenary University

Mary Mullen                                          Villanova University

Ann Neelon                                           Murray State University

Eilís Ní Dhúill                                        Independent scholar

John O’Callaghan                                 NUI Galway

Laura O’Connor                                    U. California, Irvine

Maureen O’Connor                                University College Cork

Eóin Ó Cuineagáin                                Linnaeus University, Sweden

Clare O’Halloran                                   University College Cork

Jonathan Ó Neíll                                   UST Houston

Peter O’Neill                                         University of Georgia

Kersti Powell                                        Saint Joseph’s University

Bryonie Reid                                         Independent Scholar/Artist

Audrey Robitaillié                                  University of Edinburgh

Jessica Scarlata                                   George Mason University

Maurice Scully                                      Aosdána

John Singleton                                      NUI Galway

Cathal Smith                                         NUI Galway

Matthew Spangler                                 San Jose State University

Karen Till                                              Maynooth University

Sarah Townsend                                   University of New Mexico

John Waters                                         New York University

Shirely Wong                                        Westfield State University

Rachel Young                                       Boston College


Photo: Josep Tomas (Flickr)

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