Students condemn the Secret Visit of Israeli Ambassador at JNU

New Delhi: In a highly condemnable and appalling incident on 8 April, the Israeli ambassador to India was secretly invited to Jawaharlal Nehru University by a professor at the Centre for West Asian Studies, School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University to address a meeting in the Convention Centre. It is shocking that Prof. P. R Kumaraswamy stooped to the most unethical and despicable means to arrange for this meeting with the Israeli ambassador.

Shocking Culture of Secrecy and Surveillance

Prior to the meeting, No notice was put up, no information about the details of the meeting was shared with the students. In fact, the MA- 4th semester students at SIS were, to begin with, called for a 'movie screening' to the SIS building and at the last minute were told to come to the Convention Centre. When they came to the Convention Centre, they were told a 'surprise' was waiting for them. The students were asked to switch off their cellphones while heavily armed security was manning the entrance and exits of the room. Students were not even allowed to go out during the whole course of the lecture. In a campus like JNU, such secrecy, duplicity and surveillance in order to spread Israeli state  propaganda cannot be tolerated. Moreover, this is not the first time this Professor has tried to invite the agents of the apartheid Israeli state in this campus. The continuing illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, the destruction of livelihoods, the stealing of lands and Palestinian resources like water, the daily detention and torture of the ordinary struggling Palestinians in and outside the Israeli Jails, building of checkpoints, building of separate roads for the settlers leaving no space for the Palestinians — in the struggle of the Palestinian people against these gross injustices, the progressive sections of JNU have always stood in stanch support of the Palestinians. Such clandestine efforts by a professor in JNU show that he knows only too well that the students of J NU will not tolerate any justification of the Israel's apartheid, genocidal regime.

Should Academic Legitimacy be Extended to the Official Spokespersons of Racist, Occupier Israeli State Be Given?

A university should stand for democratization of education and of society as a whole and at the same time for upholding the freedom, dignity and aspirations of the people. Moreover, the university is accountable to the larger society. The classroom spaces and other academic forums should not therefore become a space for the spread of propaganda, lies and deceit of the Israeli state hell bent on the destruction of the Palestinian identity.

Can the OFFICIAL spokespersons of the apartheid, occupier Israeli regime be given a free hand in a public institution like JNU to justify Israeli's crimes? Can students be forced to attend such a talk, called under false pretexts and forced to remain in the venue under strict surveillance? Isn't this in fact against the principle of a truly transformative education system?

At a time when the major universities in the United states, Britain, Canada and elsewhere around the globe have boycotted the visit of the Israeli officials, academicians who uphold and defend the Israeli state narratives, it is a shame that in JNU the Israeli ambassador is being called secretly to teach the Israeli propaganda.

We are not against any individual student's right to choose any course or ideological persuasion. What, however, is dangerous is the manner in which this 'visit' and 'lecture' was conducted. The fact that the professor concerned, who is well known for his pro-Israeli stance, used his power as the teacher to create an atmosphere of surveillance and gagging to force his ideological stance makes the whole episode absolutely repugnant and antithetical to all norms of democratic academic space.  This amply proves that the regressive right-wing pro-Israeli ideology, which stands in defence of racism, apartheid, occupation and genocide, has no moral courage to stand on its own feet- it is only by force, surveillance and instilling fear and repression among the students that it seeks to propagate itself.

JNUSU strongly condemns this act of secretly inviting the Israeli ambassador in a public institution like JNU in the name of 'class room lecture.' JNUSU warns the administration against such actions and blatant misuse of public spaces and positions for apartheid propaganda, and against such forced attendance of students under surveillance and false pretexts. JNUSU warns the administration of any act of dealing with the Israeli authorities and its institutions in future.

JNUSU stands in solidarity with the struggling Palestinians for their dignity, survival and statehood and all devious attempts by the pro-Israeli elements in the campus to legitimise the crimes of occupation and racism will be stoutly resisted. (Text from JNU Students Union poster)

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