PACBI Statement

Academic Pride in the Name of Colonialism: The Case of Haifa University and the Military that Occupies Us

June 27, 2010

Ramallah, Occupied Palestine

27 June 2010


Ramallah, Occupied Palestine

27 June 2010


The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is not at all surprised by the recent announcement by Haifa University celebrating the university’s successful bid for an Israeli army tender to continue training students at the army’s College for National Security for post-graduate studies.  Haifa University Rector Professor Yossi Ben Artzi proclaimed that his university is “proud to continue being the academic home for the security forces… the winning bid was made possible thanks to close cooperation between the School of Political Studies, Office of the President of the University, Office of the Rector and the Faculty of Social Sciences” [1] .


As a “proud” home for the security services as well as the Israeli military, Haifa University once again confirms the inherent and persistent organic partnership between the Israeli academy and the state’s system of colonial control, apartheid and occupation of Palestine.  The announcement squarely refutes arguments against the institutional academic boycott of Israel that are premised on a sacrosanct right to “academic freedom” and that ignore the crucial role played by Israeli academic institutions in justifying, defending and planning the colonial oppression against the Palestinian people.  


It is important to point out, however, that Haifa University is not alone in its close collaboration with the army.  A comprehensive report by researchers at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) presented strong evidence of intensive, purposive and open institutional cooperation of Tel Aviv University with the Israeli military establishment.  TAU Professor Avraham Katzir observed:     

One of the things which helps the State of Israel […] is the fact that each one of us is both an Israeli citizen and working in these fields […] I’m an academic at university and I’ve also done my [military] service, and I was also at [state arms manufacturer] RAFAEL for some years. All of those things come together; we’re helping one another – something which doesn’t happen [elsewhere]; I’ve been in the US and Europe, and there is a disconnect between the workshops and the army; they hate the army! [With us], I think that we succeed by virtue of the fact that we help one another so much [2].    

The Alternative Information Centre’s report on academic complicity and boycott notes in this regard:


Israeli universities have adopted this consensus [the legitimacy of the Israeli army actions] by accepting into their ranks former members of the Israeli security services, without regard for the problematic aspects of their possible actions in past positions….. Carmi Gilon’s past as Director of the General Security Services, an organization especially notorious for  torture and human rights abuses of Palestinians, and who is accused by various organizations of committing war crimes, did not cause Hebrew University to reconsider appointing him to the post of Vice-President for External Affairs. These appointments of former high-ranking officers in the Israeli security services would seem very natural in the Israeli mainstream context, where they enjoy a great deal of prestige…. [3].


It is also important to point out that, in addition to their close partnership with the military-security establishment, Israeli universities have long been known to pursue discriminating racial policies against Palestinian faculty and students at Israeli universities. Reports by Adva (2008), Adalah (2003), and Human Rights Watch (2001), among others, corroborate these charges [4].


Since Haifa University has chosen to distinguish itself among other universities for its support of the army and its institutions, it is fitting to note that a new report released by the Arab Youth Association-Baladna documents the various facets of racial discrimination against Palestinian students at Haifa University, one of the Israeli universities misleadingly branded as being a place of tolerance and diversity.  According to the report, Haifa University has condoned, indeed invited, often violent police suppression of legitimate political expression on the part of Palestinian student activists on campus.  It also practices discrimination in the admission of students by specifying the minimum age of 20 for applicants to a number of specializations, thus discriminating against fresh Palestinian secondary school graduates who have not performed military service.  The University‘s dormitory space allocation and financial aid disbursement policies also follow the same pattern [5].


Based on these fresh data, PACBI is more convinced than ever that only a comprehensive international boycott of all Israeli universities can effectively contribute to ending their grave complicity in the Israeli occupation and system of apartheid.  The accumulating compelling evidence of the extent of the collaboration with the military apparatus and the discrimination practiced against Palestinians within the higher education system supports PACBI’s initial position that the Israeli academy is part and parcel of the structures of oppression of the Palestinian people.  PACBI is an active member of the Palestinian civil society campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) [6], which is based on a strategy endorsed by an overwhelming majority of Palestinian unions, NGOs, cultural organizations, among others, as a non-violent and effective form of resistance against Israel’s oppression.  This civil resistance is deeply rooted in the history of Palestinian struggle and inspired by the South African and global struggle against apartheid.





[1] (Hebrew).  See also

[2]  SOAS Palestine Society Report: "Tel Aviv University part and parcel of the Israeli Occupation,"

[3] Keller, U. (2009) the Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories. The Economy of the Occupation: A Socioeconomic Bulletin: Alternative Information Centre.

[4] Adva, Israel, A Social Report 2008-2009, ; Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. Education rights—Palestinian citizens of Israel, (2003), Shafa’amr, Israel; Human Rights Watch. Second Class: Discrimination Against Palestinian Arab Children in Israel’s Schools (2001),

[5] Haifa University and the Policy of racial discrimination against Palestinian Students (May 2010); Arabic text at:


June 27, 2010


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