About 61 Irish academics from all over the world have called for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions "until Israel abides by UN resolutions and ends the occupation of Palestinian territories.”
The move marks the third attempt by European academics to shun their Israeli counterparts.
On September 12, the Irish Times published a letter signed by 61 academics urging academic institutions all over the world to boycott Israeli institutions of higher education.
"There is widespread international condemnation of Israel's policy of violent repression against the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and its aggression against the people of Lebanon,” the letter read.
"We feel it is time to heed the Palestinian call to take practical action to pressure Israel to comply with international law and basic human rights norms. Many national and European cultural and research institutions, including those funded by the EU regard Israel as a European state for the purposes of awarding grants and contracts," it continued.
"We call for a moratorium on any further such support to Israeli academic institutions, at both national and European levels. We urge our fellow academics to support this moratorium by refraining, where possible, from further joint collaborations with Israeli academic institutions. Such a moratorium should continue until Israel abides by UN resolutions and ends the occupation of Palestinian territories," the academics concluded.
Tamir doubts call will be heeded
Education Minister Yuli Tamir told Ynet: "I will check the issues and I will verify if they are lecturers who have influence. In the coming week I'll be flying to England for talks with lecturers and academics about the issue. The question is whether these lecturers have a say in the academic world or whether they don't. It is not pleasant, but not terrible. We don't want to make a big deal of it because this will give them a false status."
She added: "Until today boycott attempts have not affected Israel in real terms such as grant applications and so on. I never fell on an application for financial assistance that was rejected on the bases that it was sent from Israel … Boycott attempts have not turned into a central movement, to the contrary – they only increased proposals for academic cooperation. The last British boycott turned out to have been initiated by a group of esoteric lecturers from whom many universities alienated themselves."
Prof Yosef Yeshurun Rector of Bar-Ilan University sent a letter to the European Union condemning the move by Irish academics as anti-Semitic.
"Academic boycott is not ethical and contravenes the principle of academic freedom," he wrote.
"Attempts to exclude Israel and Israeli academics for the purpose of isolation and demonization, overlooking history and decades of violence, are ethically unacceptable," Yeshurun wrote.
Yeshurun said the move contravenes the charter of the International Council for Science of which Israel is an honorary member.
Yeshurun's letter was also signed by Dr. Edward S. Beck, President of the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East body at Walden University in the United States.