Stockholm Technical University tried to stop meeting about research collaboration with Israel

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KTH Action Group For Boycotting Israel | 12/02/2010 |

Wednesday 10 February Rector Peter Gudmundson of the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) decided that a meeting entitled “Why should we boycott Israel?” would not be allowed to use the premises of the university. The organizers of the meeting, The Action Group at KTH for Boycott of Israel, considered that Rector’s decision is at odds with the constitutional right to assembly. Therefore the meeting was held as scheduled. The meeting focused largely on the relations between KTH and Israel Institute of Technology Technion, Haifa, with which KTH has an agreement about collaboration since 1998. The agreement is about exchange of students, teachers, research staff and general research cooperation.

In order to discuss the issue of boycott as an instrument to make Israel respect International Law the Action group invited the famous Swedish-Israeli composer and artist Dror Feiler, who is also the President of European Jews for a Just Peace. He said that virtually all Israeli universities are closely tied to the Israeli war industry. Technion has close links to the arms producer Elbit, whose chairman is a Doctor of Honour at the university. Technion is involved in the development of unmanned aerial and land vehicles destroying Palestinian houses, and in the development of other weapons in the hands of the occupying power. Technion is also developing methods for discovering underground tunnels, aiming at the siege on Gaza.

Associate Professor Jan-Erik Gustafsson informed the meeting about his third visit to the Palestinian university of Birzeit on the West Bank, a university with which KTH is cooperating through the European Union Tempus program. Gustafsson said that Palestinian universities are waging a campaign for academic and cultural boycott of Israel. It is advocating a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions. So far the campaign has been signed by more than 100 civil society organizations. Dror Feiler added that the demand for boycott is supported by a growing number of Israeli organisations and individuals. Already in 2008as many as 407 academic protested publicly against the discrimination of Palestinians at Israeli universities.

The KTH action group demands that KTH shall break its agreement with Technion, and that KTH shall implement its own Ethical policy, saying that the activity of the university shall be based on “human rights and freedom and free and open discussion... and the dissociation from all forms of discrimination”. The leadership of KTH and its Ethical Committee was invited to the meeting, but it refused to engage in any kind of discussion with the Action group.

“The fact that the Rector tries to ban our meeting shows that KTH does not comply with its own ethical policy”, says Professor Emeritus Dick Urban Vestbro and Assoc Prof Jan-Erik Gustafsson, who are members of the the Action Group at KTH for Boycott of Israel.

Further information: Dick Urban Vestbro, 0706559483