PACBI asks Konrad Adenauer Foundation to cancel co-sponsorship with IDC, Herzliya 7Oct12 October 7, 2012

Alternative Information Centre   -    6 October 2012

We are writing to you from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) to urge you in the strongest terms to cancel your co-sponsorship of the public lecture on “The Crisis of Governance in the Middle East”, co-organized with the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) and the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya to be held in Herzliya on October, 10, 2012.

Going ahead with this conference would inadvertently lend a stamp of approval to Israeli policies of massive human rights and international law violations. This is especially so given the ties of these institutes to the Israeli military establishment, and the way they abuse public events as an opportunity to whitewash Israeli crimes under international law.

According to your own words, you “support the strengthening of democracy and the rule of law in Israel”. However, you must be aware that the lectures will be given by Israeli public figures who have been responsible for severe violations of human rights or for advocating for such violations, including:

– Boaz Ganor,  Executive Director of the ICT, who has advocated strikes on Palestinian civilians and called for the Geneva Convention to be “fine-tuned” so as to legalize the Israeli military’s use of “disguised commando soldiers in raids”. Also, Ganor argues for the racial profiling system, a discriminatory policy strongly criticized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

– Avraham Dichter, who has served as internal security minister and head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, and now Home Front Defense Minister. Dichter has been charged by the US-based American Center for Constitutional Rights with extrajudicial killings, including both direct and indiscriminate attacks against civilians, war crimes and other human rights violations during the 2002 air strikes on Gaza. He has been found responsible for planning and directing “targeted assassinations” with the knowledge that civilians would be killed in the attack. 

– Amos Gilad, who has served as former head of the Defense Ministry’s political-security branch and the government’s caretaker coordinator in the West Bank. In 2004 it was revealed that Gilad fabricated intelligence reports to discredit Palestinian officials as wanting to destroy Israel and as being not worthy of being addressed [as “partners for peace”]. He has also been found responsible for the promotion of civil war between Hamas and Fatah. Mr Gilad is blamed by some Israeli analysts for fuelling Israel’s hawkish policies throughout the second intifada. In circles of the Israeli Defense and Foreign Ministry, Gilad is known as intimately involved and responsible for the policy over the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya (IDC) is in itself an institution complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. It is a private university with strong ties to the Israeli military intelligence community. It expresses pride in its links with the Israeli army, despite the army’s role in enforcing the unlawful occupation and a brutal siege on the Gaza Strip. Representatives of Israel’s most profitable arms manufacturers frequently sit on the IDC’s management committee, while 10 percent of its student admittance is reserved for veterans of elite combat units in the Israeli army.  Also, each year the IDC hosts the Herzliya security conference, attracting Israel’s political, military and business elite, as well as foreign guests. The IDC is giving speakers at this conference a platform to make openly racist statements without being challenged. For instance, in 2003, Yitzhak Ravid, a senior researcher with Israel’s weapons development authority Rafael, called for coercive measures to curb the birthrate among Palestinians. The delivery rooms in Soroka Hospital in Beersheba have turned into “a factory for the production of a backward population,” he said, alluding to an area with a considerable number of Bedouin inhabitants.  The Interdisciplinary Centre, headed by Uriel Reichman, is concerned with strengthening Israel, especially with regards to maintaining a Jewish demographic majority. Policies that guarantee Jewish supremacy over non-Jews become paramount in both the IDC’s Herzliya conferences as well as Reichman’s public statements.  Additionally, the IDC is accused of actively opposing human rights groups.  The IDC and its events are thus part and parcel of building Israel’s military and political strategy to enhance its oppressive system of settler-colonialism, occupation and apartheid.

As you publicly adhere to “Christian-social” traditions, the words of former archbishop Desmond Tutu (2010) must speak to you: ‘It can never be business as usual. Israeli Universities are an intimate part of the Israeli regime, by active choice. While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation.” He reminds us that “[b]y maintaining links to both the Israeli defence forces and the arms industry,” any Israeli academic institution “structurally supports and facilitates the Israeli occupation”. This equally applies to the ICT and IDC: Both are military laboratories largely funded by the Israeli military. 

Exemplary for the embeddedness of military and academia is the biography of Gen. (Res.) Ilan Biran, member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. He was a former General Director of the Ministry of Defense, and despite decade long criticisms of the Israeli military by many human rights organizations, he does not shy away from admitting to have served in the Israeli military “for 32 years in various staff and command positions, including Commanding General, Central Command, Head of the Technology and Logistics Branch, and Head of the Operations Division at the General Staff.”   Significantly, he is also Chairman of the Board of Rafael ADS. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is one of Israel’s largest government-sponsored weapons manufacturers famous for its “advanced hybrid armour protection system” used in Israel’s Merkava tanks and “tested in battle” in Gaza.

As an independent foundation, yet affiliated to the governing German Christian Democratic Union party, your co-sponsorship and the participation of your party members in this event will place an additional moral responsibility on your shoulders, since by sponsoring and appearing at this event you will be unwittingly bestowing legitimacy upon a colonial and apartheid regime. You are certainly aware that Israel has flouted international law for several decades. Since many European states, including Germany, are actively complicit in enabling and perpetuating Israel’s colonial and oppressive policies, we believe that the only avenue open to achieving justice and upholding international law is sustained work on the part of Palestinian and international civil society to put pressure on Israel and its complicit institutions to end this oppression. We urge you not to lend your name to this propaganda exercise.

Your mission statement reads: “In our […] international cooperation efforts we work for people to be able to live self-determined lives in freedom and dignity. We make a contribution underpinned by values to helping Germany meet its growing responsibilities throughout the world.  We encourage people to lend a hand in shaping the future along these lines.” 

Your decision to cosponsor the lecture event with the ITC and IDC goes against your own principles, and will violate Palestinian’s right to self-determination, freedom and dignity.  It will also violate the Palestinian call for boycott and will constitute a blunt rejection of the appeal from over 170 civil society organizations that comprise the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  We urge you to stand with Palestinian, International, and increasingly Israeli civil society against Israel’s criminal practices, or at the very least, not to cross this Palestinian picket line.

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