Date Released: 20 February 2014
Irish academic researchers have collaborated in EU-funded projects with Israeli counterparts who make drones, develop high-tech weapons and engage in “counter-terror” activities with the Israeli Defence Forces and the country’s intelligence agency, Mossad, it was revealed at a press event in Dublin today (Thursday, 20th February).
In all, Irish universities have collaborated with Israel in 257 projects to date, seven of them listed as “security” and 13 as “aerospace”. These EU research programmes are administered by the EU Commission.
The information on Irish-Israeli research links was gathered through the examination of publicly available EU documents by members of the campaign group Academics for Palestine (AfP).
The group supports an academic boycott against Israel. Its chair, Jim Roche, said the daily discrimination inflicted on Palestinian academics was enough to justify such a boycott, but added: “The revelations of Irish academia’s collaboration with companies closely linked to Israel’s military-industrial complex are truly shocking.
“What is surprising is that a non-European country, Israel, actually receives more research and development funding from the EU than many European countries do,” Roche said.
“It is not just Israeli universities that avail of this funding, but Israeli security and military companies – and they are often the lead partner in a research consortium.”
UCD lecturer in politics and international relations, Andy Storey, said: “This is, by not very roundabout means, the EU funding the Israeli occupation apparatus.”
“Some Irish universities may be effectively contributing to the denial of Palestinian human rights and academic freedom by collaborating with these Israeli security companies in EU-funded FP7 and Horizon 2020 programmes paid for by European, including Irish, taxpayers,” Roche said.
138 Irish academics have signed a pledge, organised by AFP, to boycott such collaboration with Israeli institutions until Palestinian rights are respected.
Dr Ghada Karmi, a Palestinian doctor of medicine, scholar and lecturer at the University of Exeter, emphasised that the international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) does not target Israeli individuals but institutions. Far from being a threat to academic freedom, she said at today’s launch, BDS affirms its importance for Palestinians.
“Israel's well-documented repression of Palestinian academic life and victimisation of Palestinian teachers and students is a scandal to be denounced by all those who claim to care about academic freedom,” she said.