Academic boycott takes off at Sydney University

Apr 13, 2018No Comments »

12 April 2018, Press Release, Sydney Staff for BDS


Israel’s recent killing of protesters in Gaza has led staff at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences to make Australia’s largest ever public commitment to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

With Palestinians in Gaza preparing for their third consecutive Friday of protest in support of their right to return to their homes, thirty seven academics in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences have publicly signed a pledge to break ties with Israeli academic institutions. The pledge follows the principles of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, an international solidarity movement inspired by the success of boycotts in bringing an end to apartheid in South Africa.

While many academics in Australia have committed to the academic boycott, the thirty seven Sydney University signatures represent the most serious public support for academic BDS ever seen at an Australian university.

The signatories undertake to break all official contact with Israeli universities until Israel ends its occupation of UN-defined Palestinian land, grants full equality before the law to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and recognizes Palestinians’ right to return to the homes from which they were expelled in the 1948 war. Signatories will not attend conferences sponsored by Israeli universities, participate in academic exchange schemes, or otherwise collaborate professionally with Israeli universities until these goals have been fulfilled.

‘Israel’s actions in Gaza have resulted in a major boost for the academic BDS campaign in Australia,’ said Dr Nick Riemer, a Senior Lecturer in English and Linguistics and a member of the ‘Sydney Staff for BDS’ group, which coordinated the pledge. ‘The number of signatories of the pledge at Sydney is the equivalent of two middle-sized departments. It shows that an increasing number of academics recognize the role that we can play in supporting a just peace in the Middle East, and think that international pressure is the only realistic means by which justice can be achieved for Palestinians so that both they and Israelis can live in peace. This is even more significant given the intense efforts Israel puts in to repressing the boycott campaign, including in universities.’

The pledge concludes by stating that signatories ‘look forward to a time when Israel is prepared to negotiate seriously and in good faith with Palestinians, and civil society actions like the boycott are no longer necessary’.

Twenty nine Palestinians have been killed and over one thousand injured, including hundreds wounded by Israeli snipers, in the protests so far. The Sydney Staff for BDS group is continuing to collect signatures for the pledge.

Contact: Nick Riemer, University of Sydney, 0481 339 937, nick.reimer{at}sydney{dot}edu{dot}au

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