KTH leadership still indifferent to Israeli occupation of Palestine

By Jan-Erik Gustafsson

On the 14 of February 2017, we at the Action Group at the KTH for the Boycott of Israel addressed a letter to the KTH Rector Sigbritt Karlsson and the University Board requesting them to not to extend the five-year cooperation agreement with the Technion Institute in Israel. The Agreement expires in February 2018. On the 20 of February, the University Board rejected our request and issued the following response (in Swedish):

Brevet Förläng inte samarbetsavtalet med Technion
behandlades vid universitetsstyrelsemötet den 20 februari 2017.

Ur protokollet:
§ 5  Övriga frågor

Inkommen skrivelse, 2017-02-14, från Jan-Erik Gustafsson angående samarbetsavtalet med Technion. Universitetsstyrelsen har beaktat skrivelsen och lämnar den utan åtgärd så KTH som statlig myndighet inte tar egna politiska ställningstaganden utan följer regeringens beslut och rekommendationer.

Till registrator: Denna e-post ska diarieföras på V-2017-0189.

The University Board says that it has considered the letter but left it without action. This was justified on the ground that “as a public authority, the KTH makes no political positions”, instead it “follows the government’s decisions and recommendations.”

The same justification was used in 2013 to reject our demand stop the KTH from signing the cooperation agreement with the Technion Institute.

The 2017 answer is as irrelevant and pragmatic as it was in 2013. Despite the change of governments and political development in Sweden and Palestine since 2013, including the recognition of the Palestine in October 2014, the University Board and the Rector remain indifferent to these changes.

Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians and settlements expansion on of Palestinian land are continuing on a daily basis. The academic rights of Palestinian are severely restricted, almost non-existent due to the Israeli occupation. It is sad and shameful that the KTH and the Swedish university community continue to support collaboration with the universities of the occupier.

In spite of the KTH’s leadership indifference, a KTH department conducted a successful three-year teacher and student exchange program with Al Quds University in Jerusalem. The Linnaeus-Palme program and Sida funded the exchange program. Six Palestinian students took a semester at the KTH masters programs and three Swedish master students carried out field studies in the Occupied Palestine Territories.

The Al Quds University is only 50 meters from the illegal annexation and separation wall in East Jerusalem. Al Quds University has been enduring regular Israeli attacks, including destroying its buildings and lecture halls.

One of the Palestinian students works now with the Lajee Center at the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem. The Aida Camp was established in 1950 with people fleeing from Palestinian villages that Israel occupied in 1948. Israeli soldiers weekly harass the Lajee Center.

To raise awareness of the impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian life, we recommend watching this video:

We will continue to demand the KTH to abstain from renewing the collaboration agreement with the Technion Institute.