A scene from Gaza during the most recent conflict with Israel.Sareef Sarhan

A group of Cambridge researchers and scholars has released a statement criticizing the behaviour of the Israeli government and deploring the living conditions of the Gazan population after the most recent outbreak of conflict in the area.

The academics who have signed the online petition believe that they have a responsibility and prerogative to speak out on the contentious issue of Israeli-Palestinian tensions “as practitioners of our various subjects, as academics, or just as human beings.”

According to their statement, the latest escalation of the region’s conflict represents the most recent development in a long history of illegal Israeli occupation that spans over several decades.

Furthermore, the proponents of the statement refute the notion that they are singling out Israel, but rather that Israel has singled itself out via its claims of moral impeccability, its celebrated status of democracy, the extensive support it receives from the US and other nations and its politics of memory; for example, manipulating the Holocaust into an instrument to discredit Palestinian struggles.

As a means of deflecting such an ‘’abuse of memory’’ the document points to a recent petition signed by 40 Holocaust survivors and 287 of their descendants, lamenting Israel’s treatment of Palestine.

The list of supporters of the pledge includes academics from 20 different university faculties, from Philosophy to Physics to Geography, and from “a range of political, religious and cultural backgrounds”.

Acknowledging the diversity of their cohort, the group of professors and intellectuals has underlined the different forms of criticism present under the umbrella of the statement.

Those of the academics specialising in law condemn the breach of international law committed by Israel via its illegal occupation of Gaza (per UN definition) and the West Bank. The lack of a military presence in the occupied territory does not itself preclude the legal status of occupation, according to the declaration.

Philosophers and political scientists, on the other hand, disapprove of the moral hypocrisy of Israeli apologism and the discrediting of criticism against Israel. Historians, however, have taken to viewing the recent events in a much longer trajectory of colonial occupation, which can be traced back to 1948.

The main aim of the academic cohort is to announce its support for the Palestinian resistance and to call for an immediate lifting of the blockade of Gaza. In addition to this, the Cambridge scholars are calling for peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Their statement reads: “We believe that it is all the more important to speak out now that the latest spate of bombing has come to an end, in order that the plight of the Palestinian people is not simply allowed to slip from the public consciousness.”

The statement is also to act as a protest against the victimisation of students and lecturers worldwide who have criticised the conflict.

The full statement and signatories can be found at http://campalestinestatement.blogspot.co.uk/.

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