Academics say No to the partnership between the Ecole Polytechnique and Technion

A petition has gathered more than 600 signatures — mainly of French academics — protesting an official agreement between the Ecole Polytechnique and Technion, the Israeli Institute of Technology.

In a letter dated December 6, 2013, the French Association of Academics for the Respect of International Law in Palestine (AURDIP) had written to the director general of the Ecole Polytechnique to warn him of the moral and legal risks inherent in this partnership agreement, signed in 2013, and to ask him to cancel the agreement.

In spite of the e-mails sent in the interim, there has been no response to this letter.

Faced with the silence of the Ecole Polytechnique administration, AURDIP launched a petition on September 21, 2014, open to academics willing to come out in opposition to the partnership. In a few days this petition gathered more than 600 signatures — mainly of French academics — including researchers and university professors as well as present and former students of the Ecole Polytechnique. Moreover, a number of French and foreign organizations, including trade unions representing the personnel of higher education and research, have publicly declared their support for this petition.

This unprecedented mobilization of the university community is proof that Technion is not like other universities. In view of Technion’s involvement in serious violations of international law on the part of Israeli authorities, violations that in some cases can be categorized as war crimes or crimes against humanity, its partnership with the Ecole Polytechnique makes many academics uncomfortable.

Like a number of other Israeli universities, Technion discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel by instituting preferential policies in favor of soldiers — active, conscripts, or in the reserve. Technion also places its scientific expertise in the service of the Israeli military-industrial complex; for example, through its strong links to Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd, which equip and advise the Israeli army. In so doing, Technion makes an important contribution to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and the illegal acts that accompany the occupation (disproportionate use of force, settlement, expropriations, house demolitions, expulsions, arbitrary arrests, targeting killings, and so on). By cooperating with Technion, the students, researchers, and professors of the Ecole Polytechnique are at risk of complicity with war crimes. The massacres committed during Israel’s military operation in Gaza in July and August 2014 show that this risk is all too real.

In a letter dated October 10, 2014, AURDIP once again called on the administration of the Ecole Polytechnique to cancel the partnership; the letter included a copy of the petition and the list of signatures. We hope that this petition will help increase awareness, on the part of the administration of the Ecole Polytechnique, as well as students and research and teaching staff, of the immoral nature of the agreement with Technion, and of the risks this agreement brings with regard both to international law and to French criminal law, as well as to the institutions reputation. If there is no change, AURDIP, building on the mobilization of the university community, will continue, along with many other other groups, to organize opposition to the partnership.