Israeli university welcomes “war crimes” colonel

For those thus far unconvinced of the reasons for the boycott of Israeli academics, Jonathan Cook reports about the recent appointment of Colonel Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, the IDF’s senior adviser on international law, to a teaching post at Tel Aviv University. Some of Col Sharvit-Baruch’s most notable achievements are “to have ‘relaxed’ the rules of engagement, approved widespread house demolitions and the uprooting of farmland, and sanctioned the use of incendiary weapons such as white phosphorus over the densely populated enclave [Gaza]”, in addition to having “offered legal justification for the targeting of buildings in which civilians were known to be located as long as they had been warned first to leave.”

See also Gideon Levy’s article about the silent complicity of Israel’s jurists in the IDF’s war crimes.

The Israeli government has moved quickly to quash protests over the appointment of the army’s senior adviser on international law to a teaching post at Tel Aviv University. Col Pnina Sharvit-Baruch is thought to have provided legal cover for war crimes during the recent Gaza offensive.

Government officials fear that recent media revelations relating to Col Sharvit-Baruch’s role in the Gaza operation may assist human rights groups seeking to bring Israeli soldiers to trial abroad.

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Student Occupations Reach American Academia

Spreading like wildfire, student university occupations in solidarity with the people of Gaza have finally reached the shores of American academia. Students at the University of Rochester, inspired by their peers in the UK, staged a sit-in and after only 9 hours marched out victorious having won all of their demands.

1. Divestment: We demand the University of Rochester to adopt the “UR-Peaceful Investing Initiative” which institutes a peaceful investment policy to the university’s endowment which includes divestment from corporations that manufacturer weapons and profit from war. (For example, the U of R invests in General Dynamics which manufactures weapons to maintain a 41-year occupation of the Palestinian territories and wars which slaughter Palestinian civilians by the 100s)

2. Humanitarian aid: We demand that the University of Rochester commit to a day of fundraising for humanitarian aid in Gaza within the next two weeks, as part of an ongoing commitment to provide financial support for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

3. Academic aid: We demand that the University of Rochester twin with the devastated Gaza University and provide the necessary academic aid (e.g., recycled computers, books, etc. ).

4. Scholarships: We demand that the University of Rochester grant a minimum of five scholarships to Palestinian students every year.

Hold Israel Accountable for Gaza

George E. Bisharat makes the case for BDS in the Seattle Times.

“The boss has lost it,” many Israeli military and political officials, and people on the street, were reportedly joking after their army’s recent devastation of the Gaza Strip. As Israeli journalist Uri Avnery observed, the jest means that: ” … in order to deter our enemies, we must behave like madmen, go on the rampage, kill and destroy mercilessly.”

In fact, the “boss has lost it” is an unselfconscious admission of policies that violate international law, and could at some point be used against Israeli leaders in a criminal prosecution.

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Dockers boycott Israel

The BDS campaign continues to bite. More positive news, this time from South Africa.

SOUTH African dock workers have refused to unload ships carrying goods from Israel in solidarity with the Palestinians.

South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) general secretary Randall Howard said that if any Israeli ship docks its cargo in Durban, union workers won’t unload it.

“We will make that contribution,” he said. “The historic and heroic struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination is a struggle that SATAWU supports.”

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University of Manchester Student Occupation Continues

Next to the successful occupation of Strathclyde University, more than a hundred students of the University of Manchester are going into their fourth day of occupying their university in a demand for a stronger and more proactive position from the university on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.3253334209_1f9419b971

Over 500 students attended an emergency general meeting of the students union to discuss a motion on the issue. This democratic meeting was sabotaged and ultimately destroyed by pro-Israeli Zionist students who were desperate to shield Israel from criticism and couldn’t stomach the thought of their university helping to stop the suffering in Palestine. These students employed both bureaucratic and thuggish tactics to stop the meeting from taking place. There are countless reports from students who wanted to get in but were physically prevented. When the chair of the meeting refused to hear students’ complaints at the blockade and dissolved the meeting, several hundred students marched on University administration headquarters, the John Owens Building.

Latest Updates:

– “After being threatened with disciplinary measures by the vice-chancellor the students have decided to continue and expand the occupation of Manchester University. We are now occupying another space at the Simon Building on Oxford Road. ”

– An open letter written by the occupying students has been sent to Vice-Chancellor of the University, Alan Gilbert, who has so far refused to even discuss the students’ demands.

– “We are calling a demonstration outside our building for 2pm tomorrow in support of the people of Palestine and the student occupation in Manchester. We invite all pro-Palestinians to come along and to publicise it.”

Time: Saturday – 07 Feb – 2pm
Location: Outside the Simon Building, Oxford Road, Manchester. Look for the Palestinian flags

For more info and updates, the students have set up a blog and a facebook page from inside the occupation.

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Israel Academic Boycott Movement Comes to U.S, Australia

Ha’aretz reports on the sudden growth of an American movement to boycott the Israeli academy, in protest at the Zionist ‘scholasticide’ aimed at Palestinian schools, universities, and students. Palestinians have long had the reputation of being the best educated population in the Arab world, but this is now under threat. For years, students in the occupied West Bank and Gaza have had only intermittent access to education as a result of curfews, closures and checkpoints. The Red Cross has found that children in Gaza are suffering from micronutrient deficiencies – which affect brain development – as a result of the Israeli siege of the territory. Studies have shown that more than half of children in Gaza suffered post-traumatic stress disorder before the latest massacre, a condition which results in insomnia, panic attacks, and an inability to concentrate. And during the massacre, Israel targetted schools and the Islamic university (which, despite its name, teaches secular subjects). In this context, anti-boycott lobbyists’ evocation of ‘academic freedom’ seems (to be polite about it) to miss the point. Palestinian civil society organisations, and anti-Zionist Israeli academics such as Ilan Pappe, have called for the boycott.

A call to join the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott, and then the mission statement of the Australian Academic Boycott of Israel follow. Please send on this information to all your academic contacts. Continue reading “Israel Academic Boycott Movement Comes to U.S, Australia”

International Writers and Scholars Endorse Academic Boycott of Israel

International support for the academic boycott of Israel. This time in the Progressive magazine.

We stand in support of the indigenous Palestinian people in Gaza, who are fighting for their survival against one of the most brutal uses of state power in both this century and the last.

We condemn Israel’s recent (December 2008/ January 2009) breaches of international law in the Gaza Strip, which include the bombing of densely-populated neighborhoods, illegal deployment of the chemical white phosphorous, and attacks on schools, ambulances, relief agencies, hospitals, universities, and places of worship. We condemn Israel’s restriction of access to media and aid workers.

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