Hundreds of Dutch academics call for cutting ties with Israel

Hundreds of Dutch academics call for cutting ties with Israel
Hundreds of Dutch academics have called for a boycott of Israel following brutal attacks on Palestinians.
3 min read
25 May, 2021
BDS is a nonviolent movement [Getty]

Hundreds of Dutch academics have signed a petition calling on the Netherlands government to cut ties with Israel in response to the recent brutal assaults on Palestinians.

Around 570 Dutch scholars and teachers signed an online petition calling on the government to cut all relations with Israel in order to achieve a just peace for Palestinians.

Among the signatories is Kylie Thomas who serves as an associate professor at the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. The academics expressed their solidarity with the Palestinians worldwide and denounced Israeli "disposession, occupation and war".

“We are scholars and educators in Dutch higher education and we stand against the ongoing dispossession, occupation and war that is being inflicted on Palestinians by the Israeli state. On Nakba Day, the 73rd anniversary of the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in present-day Israel, we stand in solidarity with all Palestinians.

"Our support goes out to Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel, as well as those 7 million refugees around the world, including those residing in the Netherlands, some of whom are our colleagues and students."

They added that using the word "conflict" in reference to the situation in Palestine is a "dangerous obfuscation".

"The perception that this is a conflict between two equal sides is a dangerous obfuscation; it deflects from the reality that it is the Palestinians who live under military occupation, who are dispossessed of their homes, and who live as second class citizens in a system of segregation, described as apartheid by both Btselem and Human Rights Watch," the statement added.

"It is this brutality and discrimination that is the cause of the escalation of violence that is currently taking place."

The boycott call comes after weeks of escalated violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza following Israel's decision to restrict movement at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and settler attacks on the holy site. 

Tensions further escalated following the forced dispossession of Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

An 11-day Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip killed some 250 Palestinians, including 66 children, and wounded over 1,910 others.

Smearing non-violent activism

Boycotting, which falls under the global Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, is a prominent form of pro-Palestine activism.

The nonviolent BDS movement says it is inspired by the campaign that targeted South Africa's apartheid regime and is seeking an end to Israel's brutal occupation of Palestinian territories.

Israel sees BDS as a strategic threat and accuses it of antisemitism - a claim activists firmly deny, saying it is an attempt to discredit their work.

BDS aims to pressure Israel to adhere to international law and human rights by lobbying various states, institutions and personas to the consequences of Israel's occupation and take action against it.

BDS operates by pressuring corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with Israel with supporters saying activities are aimed at promoting Palestinian statehood.