Staff at University of Manchester Call to End Ties with Tel Aviv University

Anti-Israel propaganda site Middle East Eye has “reported” how more than 200 members of staff and researchers at the University of Manchester are calling on the institution to cut its ties with Tel Aviv University.

tel aviv universityAn open letter addressed to the university’s vice-chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell said the Israeli university was “deeply implicated” in the May bombardment, which killed 248 Palestinians, including 66 children.

The authors of the letter, signed by 224 people as of Wednesday, said the University of Manchester’s continued relationship with Tel Aviv University is in violation of its commitment to oppose racist violence and oppression.

“Not only does the University of Manchester fail to speak up for Palestinians and heed their call for material support, but we also forge a strategic partnership with Tel Aviv University, an institution deeply implicated in their violent oppression,” the letter said.

Tel Aviv University is home to the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), a think-tank close to the Israeli military establishment, which has helped define the state’s military philosophy when it comes to Palestinians and neighbouring Arab states.

The Dahiya doctrine, named after a Beirut neighbourhood nearly destroyed by Israel during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, encourages the destruction of civilian infrastructure as a supposed deterrence to groups taking up arms against Israel.

In a paper no longer hosted by the INSS website but cited by the Institute for Middle East Understanding, Gabi Siboni, director of the Military and Strategic Affairs programme at INSS says: “[Israel] will have to respond disproportionately in order to make it abundantly clear that the State of Israel will accept no attempt to disrupt the calm currently prevailing along its borders.”

Alongside other Israeli universities, Tel Aviv University is also heavily involved in arms research, in collaboration with Israeli arms manufacturers and the Israeli military.

A 2009 publication issued by the university’s marketing department lauds the institution’s role in developing technology used by the Israeli army.

Middle East Eye reached out to the University of Manchester for its reaction to the open letter and to ask whether it had any plans to end its ties with Israeli institutions.

A spokesperson said the university would like to reassure its staff and students that “the partnership has nothing whatsoever to do with military matters or any political endorsement.

“We value our connections with universities in Israel as an important part of our international strategy for engagement with higher education institutes. All such interactions are based on UK government guidance and regulation.”

I am curious: If someone who believed in this BDS approach already had a degree (or two) from Tel Aviv University, should they send them back? Asking for a friend.

(Ok, he’s not really a friend, but he is Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, who has a second master’s degree, as well as a PhD from Tel Aviv University, in ethics of all things).

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