Screenshot from the webpage of  The Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace.

The Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace at Stockholm University in an ethically questionable collaboration with Tel Aviv University

By Jan-Erik Gustafsson & Lina Suleiman

The Swedish Institute for Future Studies together with the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace at Stockholm University arranged 12 November a seminar, which they labelled Beyond Operation Protective Edge.

The seminar was based on a workshop of experts brought together by the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace in collaboration with the Tel Aviv University. The seminar advocated, that the last year Israeli assault on Gaza – Operation Protective Edge – “brought to the fore crucially important debates in both international law and the ethics of war”.

We would have expected that the seminar should have focused at the ethics of the last-ever occupation and expanding colonization project in the world. It did not! The seminar was limited to narrowed “topics ranging from the use or ignoring of human shields to satisfying necessity and proportionality” and “legal and moral contention thrown up by Operation Protective Edge. What general principles might apply to both the initiation of conflict and its conduct? What role do things like telephone warnings to civilians, civilian duties to evacuate, and the harming of human shields have in international law?”.

We are shocked to learn about this approach. Are the organizers really still confused about the war ethics of the “Operation Protective Edge”? And you are saying that “both sides referred to the same principles of righteous warfare”. Really, both sides? Do you know that Gaza and its people have been under siege since 2006, when the Palestinians democratic elected choice was rejected by European governments? Do you know that Israel is a state that has the fourth strongest military army in the world? Gaza is neither a state nor it has an army. Are you aware of the simple facts that Gaza is eventually occupied by Israel and Israel is an occupier despite it claims it withdrew from Gaza? And you still think that BOTH SIDES are equal to claim “the same principles”? Why should we discuss the war ethics of Operation Protective Edge, when the issue is the occupation?[1]

Do you know that the whole Palestinian academic society requests boycott of Israeli universities? Tel Aviv University like other Israeli universities is part of the military-industry complex. On 24 July 2014 Tel Aviv University stated on its official website: “Tel Aviv University embraces and supports all the security forces who are working to restore quiet and security to Israel, including its students and employees called up to reserve duty”. The institution gives students, who served in the attack on Gaza one year of free tuition. The President Joseph Klafter expressed his “appreciation” for students who went to serve in the army and said “Tel Aviv University has contributed and still contributes greatly to national security”. Do you deny that the Tel Aviv University is giving key legal, technological and strategic support for maintaining and expanding Israel’s colonial occupation?

The Director of the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace is Wallenberg Academy Fellow, granted by the private Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. The Wallenberg family is the richest industry family in Sweden also involved in arms business. Can really a research centre funded by the Wallenberg family and collaborating with the University of Tel Aviv and in the absence of Palestine representatives be qualified to discuss the war ethics of the “Operation Protective Edge”?

Just less than year after the Swedish Government recognized Palestine as a state the Stockholm University collaboration about “war ethics” with Tel Aviv University is embarrassing.


[1] The map depicts the land that has been forcibly taken from Palestinians since 1946, two years before Israel was established and the accompanying expulsion of between 750,000 and a million Palestinians to make way for a Jewish state, read more here.