In an open letter they ask the Dutch government to support the rights of Palestinians and break all economic political and military ties with Israel.
According to the signatories, upholding rights for Palestinians is the only way to end the current violence. They cite Human Rights Watch that compares the situation of Palestinians in occupied territories with apartheid. Specifically, the petition mentions the arrest and detainment of Palestinian students, the intimidation of Palestinian academics and the refusal of the Israeli government to allow some scholars to enter the country.
‘We wanted to show our solidarity with Palestine, but also to follow up on that support with concrete actions’, say Christian Henderson, a university lecturer and one of the organisers of the petition.
According to him, academic institutions wield a power that can affect international affairs. Henderson: ‘Universities have a definite influence on foreign policy and shape moral positions on these issues. And as a Dutch university, we should also recognise that the Netherlands has a high level of influence on EU foreign policy.’
No individual scolars
Henderson also stresses that the boycott of Israeli academic institutions does not include a boycott with individual Israeli scholars.
‘The boycott targets universities because of the proven close ties between academic institutions and the Israeli military, the Israeli government and others that are responsible for the occupation of Palestinian areas. In addition to that, we hope the boycott encourages a section of Israeli society to reconsider this current situation and try to push their own government to change its policy.’