76 Universities in Spain Suspend Ties With Complicit Israeli Universities

Groundbreaking decision of the Conference of University Rectors in Spain to hold Israel and its complicit institutions accountable for Israel’s genocide in Gaza and its underlying regime of settler-colonial apartheid

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) salutes the groundbreaking decision of the Conference of University Rectors in Spain (CRUE) to “suspend collaboration agreements with Israeli universities and research centers that have not expressed a firm commitment to peace and compliance with international humanitarian law.”

No Israeli university meets these conditions, as has been meticulously documented by many scholars including the Israeli anthropologist, Maya Wind, in her recently-published book, Towers of Ivory and Steel. The decision of CRUE, which includes the heads of 50 public and 26 private universities in Spain, shows a commitment to international law and academic freedom.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that Israel is plausibly committing genocide against 2.3 million Palestinian in Gaza. Israel has defied the ICJ provisional measures to end all genocidal acts and the UN Security Council’s resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire. The UN Human Rights Council and dozens of UN human rights experts have called for targeted sanctions against Israel, including on scientific and technological cooperation.

As Israel escalates its plan to use “extreme force” against 1.4 million displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the besieged Gaza Strip, this stance by university heads in Spain to end complicity in Israel’s crimes is a significant measure that all international universities should follow.

Haidar Eid, genocide survivor and associate Professor of post-colonial literature at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza, commented, 

The decision by the Conference of University Rectors in Spain to end ties with Israeli universities is a historic, concrete step to hold Israel, and its complicit academic institutions, accountable for the genocide against us Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel has killed some of my students and colleagues and destroyed my university, just as it has destroyed every university in Gaza. Meanwhile, Israeli universities openly boast about providing material support for the current genocide and the decades-old system of apartheid. The decision by universities in Spain, and the student uprisings that led to this decision, give us hope that justice can and will prevail.

Israeli universities have a long and well-documented history of actively supporting Israel’s regime of military occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid. Over the past months, they have also supported, in words and in deeds, Israel’s genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, including by providing “diverse logistics equipment to several military units.”

In what has been described as the “killing of learning” by UN Special Rapporteur Balakrishnan Rajagopal, or scholasticide, Israel has destroyed or damaged every university in Gaza, including by placing explosives in empty campuses meant to flatten them, and after some had been occupied and used as military bases and detention centers. It has also bombed hundreds of Palestinian schools, mostly run by UNRWA.

15 major Palestinian universities have called on international scholars and academic institutions to isolate Israeli universities as “they have been indispensable to the regime of settler colonial oppression and apartheid, complicit in grave violations of human rights including developing weaponry, military doctrines, and legal justification for the indiscriminate, mass targeting of Palestinians.”

The decision of CRUE comes as student encampments spread across Spanish university campuses, echoing the voices of students around the world to support the Palestinian call to end institutional ties with complicit companies and Israeli universities. The University of Barcelona Council also voted this week to end all ties with complicit Israeli academic institutions and companies over Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

PACBI urges all international universities to replicate these significant steps by the heads of Spanish universities and end ties with companies and Israeli universities that are complicit in Israel’s genocide and its underlying decades-old regime of settler-colonial apartheid.