In the News
This article is reposted from , click here to read the original article.

Palestinian Scientists Urge EMBO to Relocate Workshops from Apartheid Israel, Including at Site of Tantura Massacre

The Palestine Academy for Science and Technology (PalAST) calls on the European Molecular Biology Organization to uphold its "moral obligation to end its complicity in whitewashing Israel’s crimes" by refraining "from holding workshops in Israel until its apartheid regime has been dismantled."

There is no “serenity and tranquility” atop a massacre’s mass grave.

On the 19th of January 2023 and after finding out that the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) was organizing multiple workshops in Apartheid Israel, Palestine Academy for Science and Technology (PalAST) sent the following letter to the organizing board:

As Palestinian scientific and academic societies and unions, we note with grave concern that the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) is planning three workshops in apartheid Israel. We urge EMBO to immediately relocate these workshops to any other country that is not committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Israel’s illegal settlement regime in the occupied Palestinian territory is considered a war crime under international law.

The EMBO workshops include “Bacterial cell biophysics: DNA replication, growth, division, size and shape” (11–15 December 2022), “The 20S proteasome degradation pathway” (8–12 January 2023), and “Mechanisms of neuronal remodelling” (11–14 March 2023).
Holding any of the EMBO workshops in apartheid Israel as it continues to deny the fundamental rights of millions of Palestinians will, regardless of intentions, contribute to prolonging Israel’s well-documented crimes against Palestinians.

Prominent human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Israeli NGO B'Tselem, have all found Israel guilty of the crime against humanity of apartheid, as have UN experts.

The last workshop’s scheduled location is particularly offensive to us as Palestinians. While whitewashed as “beautiful” and “secluded” on “Israel's most beautiful stretches of beach” in an area of “serenity and tranquility,” it is in fact the site of a massacre and a mass grave.

In May 1948, during the ethnic cleansing of Indigenous Palestinians from our homeland, the Israeli army attacked the Palestinian village of Tantura. After seizing the village, Israeli soldiers gunned down as many as 200 unarmed captive Palestinian civilians. The testimony of Israeli soldiers present at the massacre, which was featured in a recent documentary, shows the savagery with which the soldiers acted. “They put them into a barrel and shot them in the barrel.”

Following the massacre, the bodies of the slaughtered Palestinians were buried in a mass grave. In June 1948, just weeks after the massacre and after expelling the remaining Palestinians from Tantura, Zionist settlers took over Palestinian homes, renaming the village Nahsholim. Today, the mass grave is located under the beach parking lot. This is where EMBO plans to hold its “Mechanisms of neuronal remodelling” workshop.

Neither Tantura is the only site of a massacre committed by the Israeli regime, nor are massacres relegated to history. They are our everyday lived experience. In just the past year and a half, Israel has carried out two extensive military assaults on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, killing hundreds, including more than 80 children, injuring thousands, and destroying vital infrastructure. Gaza, with its 2 million Palestinian residents, has been under a brutal 15-year illegal Israeli siege.

EMBO’s partners in these workshops are deeply complicit in Israel’s ongoing crimes against Palestinians. Ben-Gurion University (BGU), for example, hosts the Homeland Security Institute whose partnerships include Israel's top weapons companies and the Ministry of Defense.

The Weizmann Institute offers an MA program tailored specifically for active duty soldiers and recently opened a pre-military academy that will prepare high school seniors for "meaningful military service."

The US-Israel Binational Science Foundation funds research in illegal Israeli settlements built on militarily occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law. 

This past March, EMBO endorsed a statement by seven national science academies just days into Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, defining it as “an assault on the fundamental principles of freedom, democracy and self-determination, which provide the basis for academic freedom and opportunities for scientific exchange and cooperation.”

By the same standard, EMBO must also recognize Israel’s decades-long regime of military occupation and apartheid as an assault on Palestinian freedoms and right to self-determination, and refrain from holding workshops in Israel until its apartheid regime has been dismantled, as was South Africa’s.

EMBO has a moral obligation to end its complicity in whitewashing Israel’s crimes. We urge EMBO to respect this obligation by relocating the upcoming workshops. We further call on speakers not to participate, if the workshops go ahead as planned.

There is no “serenity and tranquility” atop a massacre’s mass grave.

(PalAST will keep its fellow academics updated regarding any replies from EMBO)

An initial posting of this letter mistakenly included an incorrect image. PalAST took immediate steps to remove it and apologize for any offense that it has caused.
This does not take away from the well-documented case of the Tantura massacre as mentioned in our letter.


Stay updated!

Sign-up for news, campaign updates, action alerts and fundraisers from the BDS movement.

Subscribe Now