The Guardian • Issue #2101

PEACE NOTES

Universities and Israel

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2101
PEACE NOTES

Australian universities are deeply involved in military research and development. Western Sydney University, the University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, and the University of Sydney all collaborate with Thales, the French multinational arms manufacturer.

Thales supplies materiel to the Israeli army and works with Elbit, one of the largest Israeli arms companies.

The University of Sydney and ANU in Canberra both have partnerships with Northrop Grumman.

Northrop Grumman is the world’s fourth-largest military company. It supplies the Israeli military with a wide variety of weapons, including missile systems. The company’s technologies are also integrated into Israel’s main weapon systems, including its fighter jets, missile ships, and trainer aircraft.

Northrop Grumman plays a critical role in developing and manufacturing components for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 warplane, and has an agreement with Israel’s largest military contractor, Elbit Systems, to provide components for Israeli Air Force F-35s.

The ADF and the IDF both use Spike missiles. Last year the government allocated $50 million for local production of these missiles, in partnership with Varley Rafael Australia, a local subsidiary of  Israeli arms manufacturer Rafael.

Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, BAE Systems, Boeing, Honeywell, and Leonardo all have relationships with Australian universities.

Lockheed Martin is the largest arms manufacturer in the world. It supplies Israel with a variety of weapons, including fighter jets, attack helicopters, and missiles, all used against Palestinians.

The Israeli Air Force uses Lockheed Martin’s Hellfire missiles in attacks on Gaza. The company provided Israel with at least 1,445 Hellfire missiles between 1990 and 2006. Hellfire missiles are considered high-precision weapons, meaning their civilian casualties have been targeted deliberately.

Raytheon is the world’s second-largest military company. It makes missiles, bombs, and components for fighter jets, and other systems used by the Israeli military against Palestinian civilians.

Australia is the 16th largest global arms exporter. There is a bipartisan commitment to reaching the top 10.

Most of Defence’s engagement with universities is undertaken under the Defence Science Partnerships (DSP) program. Every public university in Australia has signed on to the DSP, the largest program of its kind in Australia.

The Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) is the Australian government’s primary agency responsible for working closely with universities to deliver military technology.

Students around Australia have been camping out on campuses to demand that universities disclose ties with Israeli companies complicit in the Gaza genocide, and divest from these companies, as well as collaborations with Israeli universities.

Few universities have responded to the student demands. The honourable few include Trinity College Dublin, the University of Barcelon, and Evergreen State College in Washington state.

Scott Burchill, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Deakin University says: “There is little doubt that today’s students will be on the right side of history.”

The University of Melbourne has agreed to disclosure more about its research grant arrangements – subject to conditions.

Students for Palestine at Sydney University said they would not accept a commitment to only disclose, arguing full divestment is also needed.

Most universities have so far failed to engage with student demands, instead using threats of police and disciplinary measures as well as unfounded accusations of anti-semitism and threats to Jewish students.

Scott Burchill points out: “Corporatised universities run by businessmen … have no understanding of the historical role of universities in pre-figuring social change. In the United States, today’s university administrators … are slaves to wealthy alumni, philanthropists, investors and the tied donations of corporate backers. It is hardly surprising that they instinctively side with state power and violence whenever the status quo is challenged.

“Higher education in Australia is heading down a similar path, which makes the moral leadership and resistance of our students, appalled by what the International Court of Justice declared was a plausible case of genocide conducted by Israel in Gaza, all the more remarkable and admirable.”

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