On March 1, the student council of the University of Turin approved by a 76 percent majority to support the academic boycott of Israeli universities by revoking agreements between the University of Turin and the Israel Institute of Technology, Technion.
The campaign was led by the student group 'Progetto Palestina', an organization based at University of Turin that has played an active role on campus in raising awareness of the BDS movement and its non-violent methods aimed at putting pressure on Israel to end Palestinian rights violations.
The decision marks the first time an Italian student council and academic body endorses the BDS movement through an academic boycott, with the aim of taking a public stance against Israel’s violations of international law. It's part of an ongoing campaign launched in 2016 at several Italian universities in response to a call by professors and researchers – 351 to date – to end the collaboration between Italian universities and Technion.
Technion, located in Haifa, is Israel's leading research and technology institute, which directly collaborates with Israeli military and weapon manufacturers such as Elbit Systems. It is therefore seen as playing an active role in supporting the country's growing military industry. Proponents of the boycott see Technion as directly complicit with Israel's human rights violations towards Palestinians.
“The campaign targets Technion due to the fact that the institute is involved more than any other university in the Israeli military-industrial complex,” read a statement from BDS campaigners at the University of Turin. “Technion develops military drone technologies and remote-controlled weaponized bulldozers used to demolish Palestinian homes.”
Technion’s collaboration with weapons manufactures like Elbit Systems has also led to human rights violations in other parts of the world.
Elbit Systems, in collaboration with a team lead by the Boeing Company, organized the 'U.S. Strategic Border Initiative Project', which serves to control and surveil the Unites States border with Mexico. The same technology designed to surveil and control Palestinian borders is deployed across the globe.
The Italian Student Council's announcement coincides with ongoing events and actions across campuses worldwide for Israeli Apartheid Week. It also comes just a few days before Israel passed a bill to bar foreign passport holders who support a boycott of Israel from entering the country. Critics of the bill say it violates freedom of speech by targeting individuals who express opinions that are not in line with those of the current Israeli leadership.
Photo: a stand to collect signatures as part of the ongoing campaign in Italy, from Progetto Palestina's Facebook page