BDS Malaysia is utterly dismayed and disappointed with the signing of the research collaboration between the Singapore National Research Foundation and Hebrew University of Israel to form the Singapore-Hebrew University Alliance for Research and Enterprise (SHARE), during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s visit to Israel.
BDS Malaysia would like to bring to the attention of PM Lee the fact that 170 Palestinian civil society organisations, including those representing academics, within historic Palestine and in the diaspora, have called on the world to show solidarity with and support for boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts against Israel. They also called on the international academic community to:
1. Refrain from participating in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions;
2. Advocate a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions at the national and international levels, including suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions;
3. Promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions;
4. Work towards the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations;
5. Support Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.
This BDS call has also been supported by Jewish academics and activists. In 2014, over 200 Jewish academics and activists issued a statement calling for the dismantling of Israel’s apartheid regime throughout historic Palestine, in solidarity with the Palestinian call for BDS.
In reality, the effects of Israeli occupation and oppression of Palestinian academia are many and severe. Palestinian scholars do not enjoy the same rights to academic freedom as Israeli scholars. Israel controls the entry of books into the occupied Palestinian territories and does not refrain from bombing universities and schools in Gaza. Palestinian academics face severe restrictions on movement via the system of checkpoints, permits and ID cards. The severe restrictions on movement also obviously make travel abroad difficult for Palestinian students and academics. This is compounded by restrictions on the entry of foreign scholars to Palestine by Israel. The entry of research equipment, spare parts, and material, is also tightly controlled by the Israeli government, making scientific research essentially impossible. In short, Palestinian scholars are prevented from engaging with each other and the world in virtually all fundamental aspects of academic pursuit and research.
PM Lee mentioned Albert Einstein’s visit to Singapore in 1922. Surely PM Lee is aware then that Einstein said, “I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish state. Apart from the practical considerations, my awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain – especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks, against which we have already had to fight without a Jewish state”. (http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/01/einstein-on-palestine-and-zionism/).
BDS Malaysia therefore calls on the Singapore government to join hands with the global BDS movement to isolate Israel as long as Israel continues to commit human right abuses towards the Palestinians.
Prof. Mohd Nazari Ismail, PhD.