Belgian campaign for the academic boycott of Israel: As soon as the student union “AGL” (Louvain-la-Neuve Students General Assembly) officially stood for an academic boycott on December the 3rd, a partnership between them and the Comité Palestine Louvain (Louvain Palestine Committee) was set up. The joint effort has two purposes: first, to obtain the freeze of all academic partnerships between the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve (counting 27 310 students) and the Israeli universities, as long as they condone the colonialist and apartheid system of Israel. Secondly, to suggest the student union “FEF” (French-speaking Students Federation) make a stand.
“The FEF calls for a freeze of all academic partnerships with Israeli academic institutions!”
The French-speaking Students Federation (FEF) is the biggest student union at the Belgian community level. It represents 100 000 students, from all types of higher education institutions. The FEF already took a stand in 2001 and 2003 concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and on the 14th of April, during the federal council, we obtained an update of the previous note, in order to remind people that the freeze of academic partnerships has a current and essential utility in the struggle for justice.
The note was written together with members of the Louvain’s Palestine Committee and councilors of the FEF. In the note, the FEF declares that its members firmly condemn the discriminatory and colonialist policy of the State of Israel. Because too many UN resolutions haven’t been respected, the FEF asks for their practical application: the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the occupied territories according to the borders of 1967, the end of colonization, and the application of the right of return for all refugees expelled from their homes, since 1948. The FEF reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to defend themselves, while condemning blind violence.
Finally, the FEF considers it necessary to re-evaluate the existing cooperation agreements between Belgian French-Community universities and Israeli universities. To the Belgian universities, the student union concretely suggests:
- intensifying moral and material cooperation with Palestinian universities
- imposing, in a reasonable period, a freeze of the education and research partnerships existing with the universities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Technion as well as the Weizmann and ICTAF institutions, until those academic authorities take an official stance in favor of the respect of the Palestinian people’s fundamental rights.
- sending a university delegation to meet the Palestinian universities’ authorities in order to express the support of the French-community Universities and making a report at the CIUF and the ARES on the state of education in those institutions
- reaffirming their support and encouraging collaboration between all Israeli progressives and Palestinians who bravely defend the coexistence of two peoples, in the respect of their fundamental rights, reminding that condemning a state’s policy is in no way the same as rejecting a people or its philosophical and religious beliefs.
This is a new victory for the BDS campaign, and an impetus for all movements calling for an academic boycott on their campus! ³
The Louvain Palestine Committee (Comité Palestine Louvain)
² To get the entire note : Note_Palestine_FEF (french)
³ Signing our petition will help us have a stronger influence on the academic authorities of the UCL (Louvain Catholic University): http://www.petitions24.net/ucl_-_israel__boycott_universitaire (french)