MEDIA RELEASE – Palestinian academics call on RMIT to cut ties with Elbit

MEDIA RELEASE – Palestinian academics call on RMIT to cut ties with Elbit

(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.

Letter from the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) to RMIT re Elbit collaboration

Letter from the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) to RMIT re Elbit collaboration

Letter from the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) to RMIT re Elbit collaboration

(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. )

To the attention of:

Professor Alec Cameron, RMIT Vice Chancellor
Dr Sharon Andrews, RMIT Academic Board Chair
RMIT University Council Members
RMIT University Student Union, c/o RUSU General Secretary Sheldon Gait
Professor John Thangarajah, RMIT Associate Dean of Computer Science and Software Engineering

Subject: RMIT’s partnership with Elbit Systems

Dear Prof Cameron, Dr Andrews, Members of the University Council, RUSU, Sheldon Gait, and Prof Thangarajah,

We are writing to you as the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE), the principal faculty union in the occupied Palestinian territory. We represent 6,000 Palestinian university professors and staff at more than a dozen higher education institutions.

We were shocked to learn that the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) has partnered with apartheid Israel’s weapons producer, Elbit Systems. We urge you to suspend all collaboration with this company.

We would first like to explain our use of the term apartheid. Many of our members, and Palestinian scholars in general, have for decades studied and documented Israel’s regime of racial domination and systematic oppression of Indigenous Palestinians, concluding that it constitutes the crime against humanity of apartheid, as defined in international law. Recently prominent Israeli and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and B’Tselem, have issued detailed reports coming to the same conclusion.

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.

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.

While not an international household name, Elbit Systems is certainly notorious among Palestinians, including our members.

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 know that the Israeli military chose Elbit Systems to produce its artillery cannons despite a German company winning the tender, over concerns that Germany would forbid the cannons from being used to fire cluster munitions. Our members know that Elbit Systems has no such concerns. In fact, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund excluded Elbit Systems from its investment portfolio over allegations of involvement in the production of cluster munitions.

Our members stuck at crowded military checkpoints while trying to get to their university, or driving for hours to get around Israel’s apartheid wall that cuts through and annexes large swaths of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, know that Elbit Systems produces the surveillance technology used on that oppressive infrastructure to keep Palestinians caged in ever diminishing Bantustans.

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.

Our members know that Elbit Systems provides surveillance technology for the US wall on the border of Mexico backed by former president Donald Trump and specifically-built surveillance towers that violate the privacy and sovereign rights of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Our members know that cyber weapons produced by Elbit Systems and sold to Ethiopia were used to spy on opposition members.

In short, our members, and Palestinians as a whole, know that Elbit Systems provides the deadly technology enabling Israel’s apartheid rule and supports oppressive regimes around the world.

RMIT’s website includes a land acknowledgement statement and emphasizes its respect for Indigenous peoples of Australia.

We ask that you also show respect for Indigenous Palestinians living under Israel’s Elbit-powered regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid by ending RMIT’s collaboration with Elbit Systems. It is the only option if RMIT intends to uphold its commitment to “making a difference both locally and globally.”

Sincerely,

Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees

RMIT University partners with Israeli weapons manufacturer

BDS Australia condemns Melbourne’s RMIT University partnering with the Israeli arms company, Elbit Systems.

Elbit Systems of Australia’s (ELSA) Centre of Excellence has teamed up with RMIT University and the Victorian Government to develop drone technology for civilian use.

This two-year partnership will undertake two joint research projects using drones to assist with mass evacuations during natural disasters and other emergencies.

BDS Australia maintains that partnering with Elbit for such projects is unconscionable given Israel’s use of Elbit drones and other weapons over many years against Palestinian civilians creating ongoing manmade disasters in Gaza and in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Elbit’s weapons have all been developed and ‘field tested’ for use against Palestinians – who are being progressively dispossessed from their lands and property by the apartheid Israeli government. Israeli forces use arms manufactured by Elbit Systems and its subsidiaries to commit serious violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

In 2018 both HSBC and AXA Investment Managers divested from Elbit due to its involvement in the production and commercialization of cluster munitions and white phosphorus shells. In 2020, the City of Liverpool in the UK cancelled the Elbit-sponsored Electronic Warfare Europe arms fair on ethical grounds after a campaign of 40,000 emails protesting at the city’s involvement. More information here. In March 2022, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Future Fund excluded Israeli arms manufacturer, Elbit Systems Limited from its investment portfolio because of allegations of its involvement in the production of cluster munitions.

BDS Australia calls on the Victorian state government, RMIT and the Australian federal government to abandon any association with Elbit.

SIGN THE PETITION

rejecting the Victorian Government’s and RMIT University’s support of the Israeli weapons manufacturer, Elbit Systems and Elbit Systems of Australia and demanding that all financial and other support and collaboration with this company and its Australian subsidiary, is withdrawn.

We are calling on the following people to reject Elbit due to its ongoing collaboration with the Israeli state’s illegal and violent oppression of Palestinians.

PAT CONROY MP, FEDERAL MINISTER FOR DEFENSE INDUSTRY
DANIEL ANDREWS, PREMIER OF VICTORIA
RMIT Academic Board Chair – Dr Sharon Andrews
RMIT Professor John Thangarajah


‘s

Statement on Victorian government’s partnership with Elbit

Statement on Victorian government’s partnership with Elbit

BDS Australia condemns the Victorian government’s recent announcement of a partnership with the major Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems. Elbit produces numerous weapons, including rocket launch systems, super-high explosive projectiles, mortar bombs, armoured vehicles and drones and is a key research and development partner to the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

Elbit surveillance technology and military equipment is used to maintain Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Gaza Strip. Elbit markets its weapons systems, including its drones, as “battle-proven”. This means that they have been deployed against Palestinians living under Israel’s deadly military occupation.

BDS Australia calls on the Victorian government to abandon any association with Elbit. In partnering with Elbit, the Andrews government is showing its contempt for international law and human rights conventions. With this deal, the Victorian Labor government under Premier Dan Andrews is collaborating with a government which has been shown to be practicing apartheid and which has been continually condemned in the UN and internationally for its ongoing breaches of human rights and international law.

Elbit is increasingly targeted by protesters worldwide as major companies and organisations divest and dissociate from it.

In 2017 the Royal Flying Doctor Service rejected Elbit’s tender for flight training equipment following a campaign by Palestinian supporters, including BDS Australia.

In 2018 both HSBC and AXA Investment Managers divested from Elbit due to its involvement in the production and commercialization of cluster munitions and white phosphorus shells. In 2020, the City of Liverpool in the UK cancelled the Elbit-sponsored Electronic Warfare Europe arms fair on ethical grounds after a campaign of 40,000 emails protesting at the city’s involvement. The 2021 arms fair in Seville, Spain, was cancelled by the Seville City Council, also on ethical grounds.

The Andrews government must reconsider this partnership now. Australians don’t want to support a company which profits by selling technology and armaments that destroy civilian communities and support the ongoing colonisation and dispossession of Palestinians. Victoria’s economic growth should not come at the expense of Palestinian lives.

BDS Australia condemns the development of an arms industry in collaboration with Elbit Systems Australia in Victoria and calls on all Australians to oppose and take action to end this partnership.

Further information:

Media release 02/02/2021 – Victorian Premier – Global Investor Elbit To Establish Melbourne Centre

The Guardian 28/01/2021 – Christopher Pyne’s firm hired by defence contractor awarded $98m in government work while he was Minister

Contact:

[email protected]

Visualizing Palestine
https://visualizingpalestine.org/visuals/field-tested-elbit-systems
Visualizing Palestine
https://visualizingpalestine.org/visuals/field-tested-elbit-systems