Nearly 350 professors and academics from prominent universities in the United Kingdom have signed a letter stating their dedication to boycott Israeli universities over an ongoing violent conflict in Palestinian territory. The letter, printed Tuesday in a full-page advertisement in British newspaper the Guardian, came as violence increases in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“As scholars associated with British universities, we are deeply disturbed by Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land," the letter read, as reported by the Jerusalem Post, adding that the professors were concerned with "the intolerable human rights violations that it inflicts on all sections of the Palestinian people and its apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement.”
Violence has escalated in the region throughout the past month, with deaths on both sides, including those of children.
Those who signed the letter, entitled “A commitment by U.K. scholars to the rights of Palestinians,” clarified that though they would not accept invitations to attend any events or participate in any exchange programs with Israeli universities, they would continue to collaborate with individual Israeli scholars.
The following Tweet purports to show an image of the advertisement in the Guardian, though it has not been verified.
— Ewa Jasiewicz (@ewajasiewicz) October 27, 2015
The decision to boycott Israeli universities falls under the umbrella of what is often referred to as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), a series of pro-Palestinian groups throughout the world that encourage governments, companies and individuals to forego Israeli products. The announcement by the U.K. professors came just several days after a group of British artists and writers, including Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, said they would not boycott Israel, saying that doing so would not be productive in solving the conflict.
While condemning the actions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Rowling said she would not support the BDS movements, saying “cultural boycotts singling out Israel are divisive and discriminatory and will not further peace,” the Guardian reported.
The declaration of U.K. professors also followed just days after a high court in France upheld a ruling condemning protesters who were fined after passing out fliers in supermarkets encouraging customers to forego Israeli produce. The protesters were accused of inciting racial hatred, and the movement has often drawn controversy as scholars debate whether boycotting Israel is discriminatory or whether it simply advocates for Palestinian rights.