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April 5, 2016 11:37 am

Italian Students Launch Boycott Campaign Against Leading Israeli University on Grounds It ‘Collaborates With Military Apparatus’

avatar by Andrew Pessin

Technion Institute for Science in Haifa, Israel. Photo: WikiCommons.

The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Photo: WikiCommons.

Denouncing what they claim are their universities’ efforts to silence them, a group of Italian students has launched a campaign to sever all academic ties between their country’s institutions of higher learning and Israel’s main institute of technology, The Algemeiner has learned.

The group, calling itself “Students Against the Technion,” is particularly targeting the universities of Turin and of Cagliari, both of which have signed cooperation agreements with the Haifa-based institution. According to an article published online this week by another student group, the “Palestine Project,” the administrations at both universities have been attempting to suppress the students’ activism, by denying them campus space for their events or even cancelling scheduled events at the last minute.

These actions, the authors charged, are part of a larger European movement to suppress freedom of expression when it comes to criticizing Israel.

They also explained their particular problem with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology:

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Technion directly collaborates with the Israeli military apparatus: it has received significant financial support … to develop innovative military technologies such as drones and the renowned Israeli Caterpillar D9 armored bulldozers … Moreover, Technion fosters its students to finish their compulsory military service. For example, it granted more than the academic benefit usually provided to those military reservists who took part in Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008-2009.

Further, they claimed, “Technological development and progress in [areas such as water management and nanotechnology] is just another way to perpetrate human rights violations, apartheid and colonialism in Palestine.”

The students’ boycott campaign follows a broader one launched in January, when 168 Italian scholars from more than 50 universities signed a statement demanding their institutions cut ties with the Technion. That statement had surpassed 330 signatures as of this week.

A request for comment from the Technion was not immediately answered.

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