Action Item: Write to Minister of State John Halligan urging no collaboration with Apartheid Israel’s education ministry
The Irish Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation John Halligan is on an official visit to the Palestine-Israel region at the moment. We are informed that as part of his itinerary he is due to meet Naftali Bennett, the Israeli Minster for Education, to discuss “innovation and education”. Bennett is one of the most reprehensible and racist figures in the current Israeli government, which itself is widely considered to be the most extremist in Israel’s history.
The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) believes that such a meeting should not take place, and furthermore, that there should be no cooperation or joint projects with the Israeli Education Ministry, which is a key player in the ongoing occupation of the Palestine, merely an extension of the apartheid state and acts as a normaliser of, and collaborator with, some of the worst war crimes, human rights abuses, and international law violations imaginable. To highlight our opposition to any such collaboration, we sent the below letter to Minister of State Halligan.
We are asking our supporters to consider also writing to the Minister, either using the below as model letter, or better yet, composing your own. Regardless of whether the Minister meets with his Israeli counterpart, it is vital any moves to deepen the relationship between the Irish state and the Apartheid state of Israel are opposed by those of us who support Palestinian rights and want to see a true, just and egalitarian peace for the region.
To: Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan T.D.
CC: Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD.
Re: Minister of State’s visit to Palestine-Israel & meeting with Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennet
Dear Minister of State Halligan,
I am writing on behalf of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) regarding your trip to the Palestine-Israel region which began today.
As we understand it, as part of the trip you will be meeting the Israeli Minister for education, Naftali Bennett, to discuss innovation and education. If this is indeed the case, we find such a meeting to be disturbing in the extreme, and totally at odds with the government’s stated position that “respect for and the promotion of human rights has always been and will continue to be a cornerstone of [Irish] foreign policy.”
Mr. Bennett is, without doubt, one of the most reprehensible figures in what is widely seen as the most extreme Israeli government in history. Mr. Bennett – who has openly boasted of killing Arabs – is leader of the second largest party in Netanyahu’s coalition, and in his Ministerial position is responsible for overseeing the education of Israeli youth – an area in which academic investigations have already uncovered an abundance of racism and anti-Palestinian bias.
Furthermore, the Israeli educational system – especially at third level – is inextricably intertwined with the Israeli occupation, military and population subjugation industries – and is not an area that we believe there should be any kind of co-operation in. The Irish group Academics For Palestine (who have written to you separately) has been leading a campaign to highlight the complicity of Israel’s higher educationsector in the denial of Palestinian rights and the commission of international law violations and war crimes.
As the Palestinian Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has correctly noted:
“All Israeli universities are deeply linked to the military-security establishment, playing indispensable — direct and indirect — roles in perpetuating Israel’s decades-old violations of international law and fundamental Palestinian rights. No Israeli university or academic union has ever taken a public position against the occupation, let alone against Israel’s system of apartheid or the denial of Palestinian refugee rights. Israeli universities are profoundly complicit in developing weapon systems and military doctrines deployed in Israel’s recent war crimes in Gaza; justifying the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land and gradual ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians; providing moral justification for extra-judicial killings and indiscriminate attacks against civilians; systematically discriminating against “non-Jewish” students in admissions, dormitory room eligibility, financial aid, etc.; and many other implicit and explicit violations of human rights and international law.“
When it comes to Israel’s denial of the Palestinian right to education, academics Abu El-Haj and Fida Adely have written that:
“[There is] routine [Israeli] violation of the rights of Palestinian children and youth to education. Whether within Israel proper, in the West Bank, or Gaza, the rights of Palestinian children and youth to an equitable education are tremendously restricted and their ability to develop and grow in safety and security is systematically violated. Frequent school closings across the Occupied Territories mean that Palestinian children and youth often do not have a right to any type of education at all. As anthropologists of education and educators committed to social justice, we want to call attention to the routine and systematic violations of Palestinians’ right to education—violations that are imbricated with, not accidental to, Israel’s unjust and oppressive treatment of Palestinians”.
For your information, we have attached (links below) several reports on both the complicit nature of the Israeli educational sector in the oppression of the Palestinian people, and regarding Israel’s denial of the right to education to Palestinian students.
Finally, as regards Mr Bennett himself, according to the Guardian, Bennett heads an “extreme rightwing nationalist and pro-settler” party. The Jewish Daily Forward has called him the “dangerous man who dreams of leading Israel” while the New Yorker says he is “the face of the next generation of religious nationalism” in Israel. Whether in media interviews or political discussions, he has not been shy about publicly expressing his disturbing extremist views. Below are some of the statements he has made in the past few years:
“If you catch terrorists, you have to simply kill them … I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there’s no problem with that.”
“There is not going to be a Palestinian state … It’s just not going to happen. A Palestinian state would be a disaster for the next 200 years.”
“My positions are very clear: I never hide the fact that I categorically oppose a Palestinian state.”
“I will do everything in my power, forever, to fight against a Palestinian state being founded.”
“There are certain things that most of us understand will never happen: ‘The Sopranos’ are not coming back for another season … and there will never be a peace plan with the Palestinians … I will do everything in my power to make sure they never get a state.”
“Building [illegal settlements in the West Bank] is our answer to murder.”
“I don’t accept it’s illegal under international law, but I agree the world would not recognise [Israeli annexation of Area C – 60% of the West Bank’s land]. The world hasn’t recognised Jerusalem as our capital, or the Western Wall as part of Israel, so this would just be another area that the world doesn’t recognise.”
“We will never agree to give up Jerusalem, a united city under Israeli sovereignty, and only Israeli. We will not accept a terrorist Palestinian state, we will not accept an agreement based on the  lines”
“The most important thing in the Land of Israel is to build, build, build [illegal settlements on Palestinian land]. It’s important that there will be an Israeli presence everywhere. Our principal problem is still Israel’s leaders’ unwillingness to say in a simple manner that the Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel.”
“Descendants of the [Palestinian] refugees should be absorbed into the countries where they currently reside and will not be allowed to move west of the Jordan River.”
It is the view of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign that no representative of the Irish government should meet with a person who has expressed such naked anti-Palestinian racism and colonial ambition, whether or not he is a Minister in an Israeli government. If such a meeting is to go ahead, it is imperative that Mr. Bennett be taken to task over his racist and colonial activism and outlook, and indeed, the racism and colonialism that lies at the heart of the Israeli government.
Furthermore, we believe it to be totally inconsistent with Ireland’s stated aims of human rights promotion for any co-operation to take place with the Israeli Ministry of Education, which he heads, while Israel continues its unceasing and brutal military occupation of Palestine, continued colonisation of Palestinian lands and ongoing refusal to implement the UN mandated Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Unfortunately, for the Israeli state, the education sector is merely an extension of the apartheid state and acts as a normaliser of, and collaborator with, some of the worst war crimes, human rights abuses, and international law violations imaginable.
Ms. Fatin Al Tamimi,
Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign
1. Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories (Alternative Information Center, 2009)
2. Academia Against Apartheid – The case for an academic boycott of Israel (Academics for Palestine, 2014)
3. Education Denied: Israel’s Systematic Violation of Palestinian Children’s Right to Education (Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 2011)
4. All Israeli Academic Institutions are Complicit in Occupation and Apartheid (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, 2010)