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Refuse the Keys of Apartheid Israel

This petition had 1,898 supporters

Dear Morgan Freeman,

We urge you to DECLINE the Key of Knowledge award from the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on May 6, 2013.

Please be aware that there are sound bases in international and human rights law on which you should refuse this key.

“The Hebrew University in Jerusalem is deeply complicit in Israel’s occupation and systematic racial oppression of the Palestinian people. The Hebrew University represents part of the academic establishment in Israel. As such, it is implicated in the institutional structures that maintain and uphold the system of illegal colonial control and apartheid over Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory and over those who are citizens of Israel, and which denies Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right to return to their homes and their lands.

The Hebrew University is itself implicated in serious violations of international law. Specifically, the University illegally acquired a significant portion of the land on which its Mount Scopus campus and dormitories are built. On 1 September 1968, about one year after Israel's military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank (which includes East Jerusalem, according to UN Security Council resolutions), the Israeli authorities confiscated 3345 dunums of Palestinian land. Part of this land was then used to build the Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University.

The basis for the illegality of the Hebrew University land confiscation deal is that this land is part of East Jerusalem, which is an occupied territory according to international law. Israel's unilateral annexation of occupied East Jerusalem into the State of Israel, and the application of Israeli domestic law to it, are violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and have been repeatedly denounced as null and void by the international community, including by the UN Security Council in its Resolution 252 (21 May 1968). By moving Israelis (staff and students) to work and live on occupied Palestinian land, the Hebrew University is, therefore, in grave violation of the Fourth Geneva Conventions.” [1]

Furthermore, land was illegally confiscated from Palestinian families for the expansion of Hebrew University dormitories on 21 Nov 2004. [2]

Israeli police brutally attacked Palestinian students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on 20 Nov 2012. The students were holding a peaceful demonstration against the assault on Gaza at the campus’ entrance. Four of them were arrested.[3] The repression of the Palestinian student movement at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has intensified since Israel’s attacks on Gaza last November, as four Palestinian students were arrested in the past month.

On 6 March, 2013, Israeli police violently attacked and arrested three Palestinian students shortly after a peaceful demonstration in support of the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strikes which was held at the campus’ entrance.

Palestinian students at the university have been organizing weekly demonstrations in support of Palestinian political prisoners on, and just outside, campus. The 6 March protest was larger than previous demonstrations, with a turnout of more than 70 students. The arrests occurred 20 minutes after the end of the demonstration, when the students were near the entrance of the dorms. Two days later, another politically active student was called for interrogation by the Israeli police. [4]

The fight for equality and accessibility in education is central to every struggle for a just and democratic society. Palestinian students and teachers trying to access education face unlawful detention, armed harassment, curfews, checkpoints, closed schools, dorm raids, an apartheid wall, separated roads, illegal arrest, and bombed schools and universities.[5] [6] [7] Israel institutes a travel ban preventing students from Gaza attending educational institutions in the West Bank which “violates Israeli obligations under international law as an occupying power, and Israel’s commitment under the Oslo accords to treat Gaza and the West Bank as a unified territory”. [8]

From Dec 2008- Jan 2009 Israel bombed the ministry of education, the Islamic University of Gaza, and tens of schools, including at least four UNRWA [the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees] schools, after having largely destroyed the infrastructure of teaching throughout the year and a half of its illegal and criminal siege of the densely populated Gaza Strip.[9]

The announcement on the Hebrew University’s website states:

“The Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University’s (CFHU) Toronto Chapter will present the esteemed Key of Knowledge award to Morgan Freeman in recognition of his work in combating segregation and prejudice, and promoting knowledge, learning and education throughout the world.”

Morgan Freeman, we ask you not to lend your name to this attempt to whitewash Israel’s violation of the educational rights of Palestinian students. Could you possibly accept such an award with a clear conscience? Please decline the Key of Knowledge award from the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University.



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