May 1, 2013
Israeli Technion students replied to a call for boycott from Sydney, Australia
On 10 April, the Student Representative Council at the University of Sydney, Australia (SRC), voted to pass a resolution calling on the university administration to cut ties with the Technion- a globally known and appreciated Israeli academic institution for technology. The Technion Student Association decided to not stand still as this call for hate is being spread, and yesterday published a letter of response, which was sent to the University of Sydney.
The letter was published on the Facebook page of the Israeli Embassy in Australia, and was also referred to by several newspapers in Australia. The response letter says the following:
"Regretfully, we have been recently notified of a resolution by the University of Sydney's Student Representative Council (SRC) calling for the university to discontinue its cooperation with the Technion.
For more than two millennia academia has played a vital role in human progress and enlightenment, whilst global cooperation has spurred science and technology throughout the world. Since its establishment, almost a century ago, the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology, has played a key role in pushing humankind forward, through research and alumni activity.
The Technion is a source of extensive contribution to human knowledge and well-being, spanning various fields of science, medicine and technology. These include the Nobel Prize winning research on ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation; Rasagiline, a drug effective in the treatment of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases; the "Snake Robot," an innovative search and rescue robot invaluable to earthquake survivors; the Nobel Prize winning and paradigm-shifting discovery of quasi-crystals; pioneering work in data compression, such as the Lempel-Ziv algorithm; and much more- Technion research has benefited the world greatly. Alongside these, there are important contributions of Technion alumni, including "ReWalk," a motorized walking assistance system for the paraplegic, developments in semiconductors and data storage, and more.
To affirm these, in a recent and comprehensive survey conducted by MIT, the Technion was ranked 6th in innovation and entrepreneurship amongst universities worldwide. In addition to these tremendous contributions, we are proud that our university serves as a model of coexistence. The student population includes students from Israel's various minorities, and nearly fifth are Arab students from across the country. Side by side, Arab, Jewish and international students study, work and engage in extra-curricular activities.
Therefore, we were extremely surprised by SRC's call to cut ties with our university. This is no more than a boycott of a link for accumulating knowledge and promoting innovation; a boycott of science and academia. This is a malicious step to undermine a path to support peace, instead of encouraging a model which should be replicated.
We call our fellow students at the University of Sydney to revoke this unconstructive resolution. We call the administration of the University of Sydney to continue its important cooperation with the Technion, of high value to both institutions and to human progress, peace and stability."
Dan Yudilevich, Chairman of the Academic Committee of the Technion Student Association, initiated the response letter. In an interview to Israelife, he explained why the Technion decided to fight back: "I follow all Technion references in the worldwide media, so I noticed call for boycott by the SRC, from the Australian media. The minute I saw this, I knew it was something out of the ordinary, because while there are many BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions ) activities worldwide, this one is an initiative made by students from an academic constitution, and more than that, it is directed towards a specific Israeli institution. It seemed unreasonable to me that students there cared enough to cut ties with us, and we will not respond.
That is why we decided to write that response letter. Although their call seems to be driven from political motives, it actually comes from a place of ignorance, from lack of knowledge of the Technion's contribution to the world. Calling for a boycott on the Technion is boycotting knowledge.
Moreover, it was important to us to let them know that nearly a fifth of all students here are Arab, which is equivalent to the Arab representation in the entire Israeli population. There is a complete equality, which makes the Technion a model for coexistence. This makes the boycott even more ridiculous".
What were the reactions you received for your response letter?
First of all, it is important to mention that this resolution we put in words in that letter was passed by the Board of the Technion Students Association. This way, it represents the opinion of the majority of the Technion students. We witness a great support from students, all students, here, as well as the support of the Technion management.
Gladly, this letter spread far more than the walls of the Technion, and we received many supportive calls from people all over Israel, as some even posted on the SRC Facebook page. As of now, we have yet to receive a comment from the SRC or from the University of Sydney, but honestly, it was a longshot.
We hope this letter will have a positive impact on the University of Sydney's decisions regarding the SRC's suggestion. We know that there are groups of students there, who do not support them, and we will be happy to see more and more people join them and speak out their minds, so that the call for a boycott will be shut down."