In a further sign that the Palestinian civil society campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is considered by Israel’s allies to be a threat to the impunity it has long enjoyed, the Prime Minister of France, Manuel Valls, invited Israeli students to study in France by denouncing BDS as motivated by antisemitism:
This invitation is…the most sincere response to those who talk of nothing but boycott. Behind this boycott we know well what there is: not only an opposition, but also a loathing of the State of Israel, the loathing of a Jewish home, and therefore of Jews as a whole.
Valls was addressing an audience during a ceremony on Sunday at Tel Aviv University in which the George Wise Medal was conferred on him. The medal commemorates Tel Aviv University’s founding President and is awarded to long-standing Israel advocates.
The Prime Minister said that it was France’s ‘role and duty’ to never give way before those that want to ‘hinder a democracy;’ that it was the ‘fight of a lifetime’ against antisemitism, ‘a battle of civilisation.’ To applause, Valls said,
When one attacks Jews, one of course attacks France and attacks civilisation.
Before receiving the medal, university officials praised Valls as ‘a friend of Israel.’ François Heilbronn, president of French Friends of Tel Aviv University, told Valls:
You are not one of those ministers that once appointed instantly forget that they are friends of Israel.
France has introduced anti-democratic legislation and taken other repressive measures to undermine the BDS movement. One activist was arrested simply for wearing a BDS t-shirt.
Tel Aviv University (TAU) is linked to an array of services to the Israeli state including in its most oppressive modes. TAU has particularly intense connections with the Israeli military. The cover story of its Winter Review 2008/9 is an account of the 64 projects for the military that were then ongoing.
From the website of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP):
In July 2014, in the middle of Operation Protective Edge which killed another 2200 Palestinians in Gaza, the university’s President Klafter expressed his “appreciation” for students who went to serve in the army and said “Tel Aviv University has contributed and still contributes greatly to national security.” He announced that the university would be providing students called up to serve in Gaza with one year’s free tuition. Still more recently in May last year the University announced that it was awarding all its honorary fellowships for that year to four Israeli army officials and military company directors. The theme is compelling and continuous. Services to occupation and oppression come in many formats. It is a Geography professor at the university who is credited with coming up with the idea of the separation wall. And a professor of philosophy at TAU developed for the army the doctrine of disproportionate response.
It is of course the case that all Israeli universities are woven into the fabric of the occupation – after all, Israel has been operating its own version of the ‘one state solution’ since 1967. In all that time no university, or body of university staff in Israel has dissociated itself from the state policies which perpetuate the suppression of Palestinian rights. No university, or body of university staff in Israel, has spoken up for the academic freedoms of Palestinian universities which are deliberately hobbled by Israel.
When Stephen Hawking’s acceptance of an invitation to a prominent conference in Israel became a subject of controversy in 2013 BRICUP were in communication with him. At his request we then put him in touch with senior Palestinian academics – as far as I recall all university Presidents. As a result he wrote a letter withdrawing from the conference, in which he said that “Had I attended I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.” However it was the unanimous advice of his Palestinian interlocutors, he said, that he should, rather, respect the boycott.
On 23 November 2019, EuroPal Forum and Middle East Monitor co-hosted a conference at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury in London on the relations between Europe and Palestine. A first of its kind, the conference brought together individuals at the forefront of discourse on Palestine in
As the European Court of Justice (ECJ) rules that European Union countries must identify products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, MEMO and EuroPal Forum are hosting a conference to discuss the EU’s position on major issues related to the occupat