Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Top Israeli recipient of EU grants is based in occupied East Jerusalem

A college in occupied East Jerusalem is the top Israeli recipient of European Union science grants.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem took part in 237 projects under an EU multi-annual scientific research program, which ran from 2007 to 2013.

According to an internal EU document that I have seen, the university was the leading Israeli participant in the program.

EU officials have displayed a determination to continue aiding the university. After the Union published "guidelines" in 2013 stating that Israeli firms and institutions based in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank should not be given subsidies, its representatives promptly made clear that Hebrew University would not be affected.

A "frequently asked questions" paper issued by the EU's embassy in Tel Aviv contended that Hebrew University was not on occupied land, even though it has a campus in the eastern part of Jerusalem. The diplomats' argument rested on how Mount Scopus, where that campus can be found, was captured by Zionist forces in 1948, rather than 1967.


That reasoning is threadbare. Hebrew University has been encroaching into territory that Israel has been stealing since the start of its 1967 occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. In 1968, Israel ordered the confiscation of 3,345 dunums of Palestinian land in the environs of Mount Scopus (a dunum equals 1,000 square meters). Hebrew University has expanded into that land.

The EU's position ignores how a large part of Issawiyeh, a Palestinian village neighboring Mount Scopus, has been expropriated in order to host dormitories and other facilities for students at the Hebrew University.

By trying to make a distinction between the violence leading to Israel's establishment in 1948 and the 1967 occupation, the EU is pandering to those liberal Zionists who wish to obfuscate the full extent of Israel's crimes.

As Ilan Pappe documents in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, academics from Hebrew University helped prepare the ground for the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe), the forced uprooting of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948. Ben-Zion Luria, an historian at the university, recommended that the Jewish National Fund compile an inventory of Palestinian villages. Doing so would "greatly help the redemption of the land," Luria wrote.

Pappe has demonstrated how this proposal gave "added impetus and zeal to the expulsion plans" implemented in 1948.

Supporting genocide

Hebrew University has kept on lending its support to Israel's acts of genocide.

When Israel attacked Gaza in the summer of 2014, the university undertook a fundraising drive so that soldiers taking part in the offensive could be offered scholarships.

Some of the EU-funded schemes involving Hebrew University are high profile. The Human Brain Project, for example, has been allocated €54 million ($57.5 million) in EU funding between 2013 and next year. (This is part of a larger initiative likely to receive €1 billion from the Brussels bureaucracy and EU governments).

This attempt to understand how the brain functions has drawn criticism from a group of neuroscientists for allegedly being too narrow in focus. Surely, however, the involvement of an Israeli institution which supports attacks in which the children of Gaza have literally had their brains blown out is a far more serious matter.

The EU's aforementioned guidelines were compiled as preparations for Horizon 2020, as the Union's new science program is called. Israel is taking part in an equal basis in this program to the EU's own member countries.


By only excluding entities that are actually based in Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank, the EU is glossing over institutions that abet the entire settlement enterprise.
Hebrew University is one such institution. Its staff have been known to sit on committees assessing planned appointments at Ariel University, which is located in the West Bank. Despite its cordial ties to that school for settlers, Hebrew University refuses to recognize degrees awarded by Al-Quds University, a Palestinian college in Jerusalem.

Top-level EU figures have displayed a fawning attitude towards Hebrew University. Receiving an honorary degree last year, the European Parliament's President Martin Schulz rhapsodized about that "exceptional moment in my life." Schulz used the conferring ceremony to oppose calls made by Palestinians for a boycott of Israel.

In so doing, the speaker of the EU's only directly-elected body proved he was more concerned with assuaging the oppressor than in upholding the rights of the oppressed. His stance was typical of how the Union supports Israeli apartheid, while claiming the opposite.

•First published by The Electronic Intifada, 14 April 2015.

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