Fight for 'other' Israel

July 12, 2002

I have visited Israel many times and have always felt a deep attachment to the country. But I am filled with anger and despair at recent events there and in the occupied territories. It is essential to mobilise the Israeli academy to protest against the Israeli government more forcefully and in greater numbers than to date.

European academics must help by declaring their solidarity with peace groups active in Israel. They must support those courageous 450-plus Israeli reserve officers, whose eyes "have seen the bloody toll this occupation exacts from both sides", and who wrote in an open letter that the commands they were given "had nothing to do with Israel's security but had the sole purpose of perpetuating Israel's control over the Palestinian people". Such is the voice of the other Israel. It is this Israel that needs our support. Acts of boycott are meant as acts against the policy of the Israeli government and its institutions, they are not directed against individuals as such - they are political and moral acts, meant as an appeal to step out of the silence and act against a government and its institutions.

We need to support Israeli academics such as Tanya Reinhart and Jacob Katriel, who protested against the Israeli government's policy of destroying the Palestinian Authority.

As a German, I know what it means to bear the responsibility for atrocities committed by members of my nation. But it is because of that nation's historical responsibility that I believe in the importance of breaking the silence, of using all possible means of protest and resistance.

Juliane House
Professor of applied linguistics
University of Hamburg, Germany

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