Israeli Apartheid State – Get out of Vienna University

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The Austrian Students’ Union (Österreichische HochschülerInnenschaft) will host a congress, Confronting Antisemitism(1) at the University of Vienna from the 15th to the 17th of November 2018. Israel’s embassy in Austria is a co-organizer(2).

From an historical perspective, we are dismayed by the choice of venue - the University of Vienna - which has doggedly persisted in standing on the wrong side of history. A hundred years ago this institution measured the skulls of non-Europeans for "scientific purposes". Today, it supports the whitewashing and legitimization of Israel’s occupation and expulsion policies by making its facilities available to Israeli institutions and other supporters of Israeli Apartheid, while denying such privileges to the former Black Panther Dhoruba bin Wahad based on his criticism of Israeli policies and support for human rights. (3)

Thus, while critical academics are boycotted and vilified, speakers who are known for their unconditional support of Israeli Apartheid are given the stage at the "Confronting Antisemitism" event. In addition, some of these speakers have in the past called for denying Israeli BDS activist Ofer Neiman and Holocaust survivor Hedi Epstein the possibility of speaking in publicly supported facilities. (4) Moreover, Alexander Feuerherdt, who writes for the radical, racist, right-wing website "Liza’s World," gets the stage for his conspiracy theories. He claims, for example, that the repeated criticisms of the Israeli Apartheid state by the United Nations are "an expression of institutionalized anti-Semitism that is characteristic of the United Nations as a whole.” (5) Feuerherdt also accused the Jewish-Israeli activist Jeff Halper, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 together with the Palestinian activist Ghassan Andoni, (6) of "acting anti-Semitically," (7) and of serving as the “principal witness” for the accusations Palestinian solidarity groups level against Israel. This choice of conference speakers could be interpreted as an embarrassing mistake, or as an attempt to promote the broadest possible academic discussion, but the co-sponsorship of the event by the Israeli Embassy, and the choice of an embassy official for the opening address are simply unacceptable.

As an anti-racist movement, we advocate that genuine past and present anti-Semitic phenomena be critically evaluated and dealt with. However, the labelling of people as ‘anti-Semitic’ because of their criticism of human rights abuses by Israel, is calculated to support the normalizing and legitimizing of Israeli occupation, Apartheid and human rights abuses.

More than 40 Jewish groups from across the world recently released a statement that opposes equating anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel’s policies and its system of occupation and Apartheid. (8)

Inviting a racist state to cooperate in an anti-racist event is not only bizarre and macabre, but also contravenes the ethics of science. After all, amongst other things, the Israel’s policies ensure that :

  • Palestinian students and academics - inside and outside Israel – have their academic freedom restricted(9), are imprisoned(10) or even killed(11).
  • new weapons and surveillance systems are developed in the context of an occupation that violates international law and are then exported throughout the world. Israeli universities participate in the development of these weapons, which are "tested" on Palestinian civil society, and then sold as "battle-proven." (12)
  • as this is written, the Palestinian population of Khan al Ahmar is under threat of being expelled from their homes ; their village is inundated with sewage, and bulldozers stand ready to demolish their schools and kindergartens. (13)
  • at the Apartheid fence in Gaza, F16 fighter jets blow demonstrators to pieces(14), snipers shoot hundreds of people and maim thousands (15).
  • the European phenomenon of anti-Semitism, which had claimed millions of victims, is decontextualized and instrumentalized to construct a new and false anti-Semitism definition that is then used to stigmatize Palestinians and human rights activists, as well as to justify the inhumane and anti-democratic policies of the Israeli state.

Paraphrasing Bertolt Brecht, we would like to point out that there are various ways to kill people.
To list only a few, flood their village with sewage, have fighter jets blow them up, or lock them up in an open-air prison and cut the supply of vital necessities. Unfortunately, this hardly outrages anyone today.

That is why we call on academics and concerned people throughout the world to question the prevailing narrative, to manifest their outrage about the immoral and inhumane situation in Israel and Palestine, and to join the Palestinian call to boycott events with Israeli government sponsorship and/or official participation.

Sign the petitio here


1 https://facingantisemitism.oeh.ac.at/
2 Although the Israeli Embassy is not explicitly listed on the Website, the Facebook page of the event list it as a co-sponsor. See : https://www.facebook.com/events/713614398997118/
3 https://www.ots.at/presseaussendung/OTS_20180620_OTS0184/universitaet-wien-untersagt-de-facto-oeffentliche-veranstaltung-mit-ehemaligem-black-panther-dhoruba-bin-wahad
4 https://www.ots.at/presseaussendung/OTS_20160307_OTS0090/offener-brief-an-buergermeister-dr-michael-haeupl-die-stadt-wien-sowie-die-verantwortlichen-im-amerlinghaus ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=14&v=QjN6xr9dxck ; https://www.ots.at/presseaussendung/OTS_20160308_OTS0256/internationale-persoenlichkeiten-protestieren-gegen-die-absage-der-frauentagsveranstaltung-im-parlament-anhang
5 https://www.mena-watch.com/mena-analysen-beitraege/un-menschenrechtsrat-blanker-antisemitismus-im-alten-stil/
6 https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/u-s-quaker-group-that-won-nobel-on-israels-bds-blacklist-1.5729790
7 https://lizaswelt.net/2017/12/25/die-israelkritik-des-jeff-halper/
8 https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/30jewishgroupsbds/
9 http://bdsberlin.org/2016/04/18/akademische-zusammenarbeit-zwischen-israel-und-deutschland-aus-sicht-der-universitaeten/
10 https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171214-israel-raids-birzeit-university-at-dawn/
11 https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180421-palestinian-lecturer-shot-dead-in-malaysia/
12 https://electronicintifada.net/content/cruel-experiments-israels-arms-industry/19011
13 https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-can-now-legally-demolish-contested-west-bank-village-1.6515934
14 https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/10/israeli-air-strike-kills-palestinian-boys-gaza-181028211536125.html
15 https://www.democracynow.org/2018/5/14/gaza_israeli_soldiers_kill_30_palestinians

Signatures (in chronological order) :

Dr. Graeme MacQueen, Canada
Lucy Edwards, PhD, UK
Nahla Abdo, Carleton University, Canada
Peter Fitting
Ronnie Barkan, BDS in Hebrew, Israel-Palestine
Sunaina Maira, UC Davis, USACBI, United States
Marwan Rashed, Sorbonne University, France
Doris Ghannam, Germany
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, International
Sam Durrant, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Haim Bresheeth, Free Speech on Israel, UK
Cynthia Franklin, Professor, University of Hawaii , USA
Stavit Sinai, Germany
University of Brighton, Professor of Moral Philosophy, UK
Cheristoph Glanz, BDS Initiative Oldenburg, Germany
Dr. Anthony Leaker, University of Brighton, UK
Ofer Neiman , Israeli citizen , Israel
Dr. Jeff Noonan, Professor of Philosophy, University of Windsor, Canada
David Comedi, National University of Tucumán and INFINOA (CONICET-UNT), Argentina
Mona Baker, UK
Prof. Stephen Pender, University of Windsor, Canada
Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP)
Sophia Deeg, Germany
Dror WARSCHAWSKI, CNRS, France
Omar Ramahi, Canada
Deborah Cook, Canada
Samidoun Göteborg, Sweden
Em.Prof. Herman De Ley, Ghent University, Belgium
BACBI (Belgian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, Belgium
Hadas Leonov, Israel
Dr. Angela Waldegg, Austria
Jules Townshend, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
Jonathan Ofir, Israeli citizen, resident in Denmark - conductor and writer on Israel-Palestine, Denmark
Boycott from Within (Israeli citizens for BDS) , Israeli citizens , Israel
Judith Bernstein, Germany
Tali Shapiro, Israel
John Chalcraft, LSE, UK
Wilhelm Langthaler
Amitai Ben-Abba, Israel/Palestine
David Klein, California State University Northridge, USA
Prof. Richard Seaford, University of Exeter, UK
Juana Celia Djelal, Retired faculty, United States
BDS Berlin
Michal Sapir, Israel
Dr. Med. Hiba Odeh, Palestine
Greilsamer Jean-Guy, UJFP and BDS (France), France
Dr. Les Levidow, Open University, UK
Adi Shosberger, Palestine
Michael Letwin, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return ; Labor for Palestine, United States
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), United States
Ahmed Abbes, Directeur de recherche au CNRS, Paris, France
Tikun Olam, United States
Ken Baker, The Human Race, UK
Waltraud Schauer, Frauen in Schwarz
Danielle Ravitzki
Christl Meyer, Frauen in Schwarz / Wien, Austria
Annette Groth, former MP, Germany
Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Ireland
Anja Matar BDS Berlin, No Apartheid in universities
Ahmad Matar
Trade Union Friends of Palestine, Ireland
Philippe de Henau, Belgium
Dhoruba Bin-Wahad, Africa
Adanya Qaddafi , United States
Jan Van Herzele, Belgium
Shelly Steinberg, Israel
Cuba Si, United States
Dr. Nozomi Takahashi, Ghent University, Belgium
Josef Pampalk, PhD
Palestina Solidariteit vzw, Belgium
Dr. Raymond Deane , National University of Ireland, Ireland
FLOWERS FROM THE HOOD, Campaign to End the Death Penalty , USA
Jasmine Schmid
Theresa El-Amin , Southern Anti-Racism Network , USA
Robin Dunford, United Kingdom
University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Em.Prof. Marc De Meyere,University Gent, member of BDS, Belgium
Association belgo-palestinienne , Belgium
Angela Flynn, AfP , Ireland
The Association of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine, Norway
Gibanje za pravice Palestincev, Slovenia
Gruppo Ibriq per la causa e la cultura Palestinese, Italy
Nada Pretnar, Slovenia
Salaam ragazzi dell’olivo Comitato di Trieste, Italy
Dee Reynolds, United Kingdom
UK-Palestine Mental Health Network, United Kingdom
Kristine Martinsen , Norway
Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden im Nahost, e.V. Deutschland, Iris Hefets (Vorsitzende), Deutschland
Paul Reynolds, Reader in Sociology and Social Philosophy, UK
Diensten en Onderzoek Centrum Palestina, Netherlands
USA Palestine Mental Health Network, USA
Palestina Solidariteit vzw , Belgium
Dr. Suzanne Ross, Clinical Psychologist, Educator, and Human Rights Activist, International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, US
Samuel Welber
Monika Vykoukal
South African Jews for Free Palestine
Dr. Susan Blackwell, Netherlands
British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), United Kingdom
Robert Boyce, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom
Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, London School of Economics, United Kingdom
Ruth Moshkovitz, Universität Wien, alumna, Austria
The Iceland-Palestine Association (Félagið Ísland-Palestína), Iceland
Peter Unterweger, International Metalworkers Secretariat, ret.
Ariana Macon, Austria
Camillo Friedrich, Germany
Oskar Lechleitner, Austria

BDS Austria (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is part of the global BDS campaign attempting to increase economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with the stated goals of the movement : the end of Israeli occupation and
colonization of Palestinian land, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees

www.bds-info.at
facebook/bds.austria
www.youtube.com/BDSaustria
office[at]bds-info.at

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