(This statement was co-ordinated by PACBI  – the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel  – https://bdsmovement.net/pacbi which is part of the Palestinian led BDS movement. )

Palestinian academics call on RMIT to cut ties with Elbit –

11 August 2022

Palestine’s largest union of academics and tertiary education employees has called on RMIT university to end its ties with the Israeli arms company, Elbit.

In a forceful statement, the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) which represents some 6,000 Palestinian university professors and staff at more than a dozen higher education institutions in the occupied Palestinian territory, has written to RMIT Vice Chancellor, Prof Alec Cameron, to the Head of the Academic Board, Dr Sharon Andrews, to Professor John Thangarajah, Professor in Artificial Intelligence and Associate Dean of Computer Science and Software Engineering and to the University Council and Student Union, and urged them to suspend all collaboration with Elbit Systems.

‘Partnering with institutions or companies complicit in Israel’s apartheid regime contributes to prolonging Israel’s violent rule over Palestinians and comes with serious legal and moral concerns. And partnering with a company that works closely with that regime to produce weapons and repressive surveillance systems used against not only indigenous Palestinians but other oppressed communities around the world takes those concerns to an entirely different level.

‘Our faculty members in Gaza and their students have lived through repeated Israeli military assaults, including the most recent attack, which has killed at least 44 Palestinians, including 16 children, and damaged infrastructure including 1,600 homes and parts of Al Quds University.

‘They know that Elbit Systems provides 85% of the military drones used by Israel in those assaults. They know that drones, mostly supplied by Elbit Systems, killed 164 Palestinian children in Gaza in 2014 alone. They know that during Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in May 2021, the Israeli Air Force dropped Elbit-produced MPR 500 bombs on Palestinian civilians. They know the constant sound of Elbit drones buzzing in the skies of Gaza, interrupting their studies and research and exacerbating their traumas.

‘As those suffering under a purely man-made disaster, including an Israeli-imposed 15-year land, sea and air blockade made possible by Elbit technology, please understand that it will be of little interest to our members in Gaza that your particular project with Elbit Systems is reportedly for civilian use during natural disasters. This does nothing to alleviate the moral and legal concerns.

‘Our members also know that Elbit Systems markets its weapons around the world, including to other oppressive regimes, as “battle-proven” and “field-tested.” Our members know that they are the subjects of those tests.

Today students and academics at RMIT are protesting the university’s association with Elbit and this statement from Palestinian academics will be read out as they stand in solidarity with those in Palestine suffering under the violence perpetrated by the Israeli state using Elbit weapons and technology.

Full statement from the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees here

More information on Elbit and the BDS Australia call to end all military ties with Israel here.

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