UGent professors demand end to Israeli research collaboration


Fifty professors associated with Ghent University have signed an open letter demanding that the university stop its collaboration with research partners in Israel that help develop weaponry used against Palestinians

“Complicit in war crimes”

A group of 50 professors at Ghent University (UGent) is demanding that the institution end its collaboration with Israeli research partners because they are suspected of having close ties with the Israeli army. “This collaboration makes the university complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity,” said the professors in an open letter, published in De Morgen.

The group is specifically concerned about the collaboration with the Israel Institute of Technology and airplane manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries. These organisations work with the arms company Elbit Systems, which develops Hermes drones. The drones were used in the attacks on Gaza that killed 2,310 Palestinians in 2014.

According to philosophy professor emeritus Herman De Ley, the collaboration not only raises ethical questions but also a legal risk of complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among the other signatories of the letter are political scientist Hendrik Vos, human rights expert Eva Brems and historian Bruno De Wever.

UGent rector Anne De Paepe responded via a letter, saying that UGent as a matter of principle doesn’t co-operate on military research but that collaboration on “dual use” research is not excluded. Dual use products can serve both civil and military purposes.

“If an invention can improve weapon systems,” said De Ley, “Israeli authorities will not hesitate to use it for that.”

Photo: I. Mirgolth/Wikimedia