Dear Professor Peter Mathieson,
As a student at the University of Edinburgh, I am writing to express my deep concern about the university’s complicity in Israeli apartheid. As a member of the university community, I call on Edinburgh to divest from companies complicit in the oppression of Palestinians. Specifically, I ask the university to immediately sever its ties with Rolls-Royce PLC, BAE Systems, Hewlett Packard (HP) and Booking.com.
As you are no doubt aware, Israel’s apartheid system is becoming increasingly visible, and there is now growing pressure on institutions and companies to re-evaluate their connections to this. In April 2021, Human Rights Watch declared Israel to be an apartheid state and condemned its systematic discrimination of Palestinians across the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and within Israel*.
I call on the University of Edinburgh to immediately sever its ties with the following:
- Rolls-Royce PLC. As one of the largest arms producers in the world, Rolls-Royce PLC manufactures components of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters which are repeatedly used by Israel to attack civilians in Gaza. In the latest attack on Gaza in May 2021, four high-rise buildings in Gaza City were attacked by Israel. Amnesty International has recently stated that these attacks on residential homes must be investigated as war crimes**.
- BAE Systems. As another of the world’s largest arms producers, BAE Systems works with Lockheed Martin and Israeli company Rafael to produce the naval Protestor drone. This drone is used to maintain the blockade of Gaza, which amounts to collective punishment and thus breaches Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention***.
- By providing the technology for the control systems used at Israel’s checkpoints, information technology company HP plays a direct role in denying Palestinians Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In addition, HP has contracts with the Israeli prison system, despite ‘severe and continuous’ violations of children’s rights in Israeli prisons according to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child****.
- com. Online travel agency Booking.com advertises accommodation in Israeli settlements which are illegal under international law. According to Amnesty International, Booking.com has at least 45 hotel and rental contracts in illegal Israeli settlements. This accommodation is built on the former homes of Palestinians, whose expulsion has been deemed a war crime by the United Nations*****.
As a student at the University of Edinburgh, I find this institution’s complicity with Israeli apartheid deeply troubling. I hope that you will take these concerns seriously and I look forward to receiving your response.
*****https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2019/01/destination-occupation-digital-tourism-israel-illegal-settlements/ and https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=27291&LangID=E