Technion has been at the centre of recent criticism for its involvement in the creation and design of military technology. Thursday’s meeting raised the issue of their connection with Israeli military research. Technion has conducted distinguished research in the field of robotic weapons systems, and in recent years has developed the latest innovations in unmanned aerial drones and unmanned combat vehicles.
Clifton, along with Layla Auer, member of the LSE’s Students’ Union Palestine Society and Michael Deas, a member of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, provided a “platform for discussion” on LSE’s research collaboration with Technion.
Clifton, argued that Technion is “implicitly implicated in Israel’s occupation of Palestine” and the LSE’s links with the Institute “normalises Technion’s actions.” The Environment and Ethics Officer outlined a range of projects Technion has been actively involved in and expressed concern over its relationship with the Israeli government.
Technion has developed a remote-controlled “D9” bulldozer used by the Israeli army in the demolition of Palestinian homes. This has been heavily condemned by the United Nations (UN).
Similarly, the Institute for Technology has been heavily involved in developing tunnel detecting equipment for the Israeli government. In her article published in the Beaver last week, Clifton suggests that Technion has been both “directly and indirectly” involved in the creation of military surveillance and security equipment in conjunction with Elbit Systems, an Israeli company known for providing the monitoring systems for the 760km separation wall. Auer further emphasised this point in the general meeting on Thursday, saying there has been a “close relationship” between Technion and Elbit since a research agreement was signed in 2008.
News of the LSE’s close ties with the Israeli Institute comes in light of recent events in New York. In December 2011, Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City announced that Cornell University and Technion won the bid to create a two billion dollar research campus on Roosevelt Island. A similar reaction to boycott the scheme has also been encouraged by students at Cornell University.
However, Thursday’s meeting generated a strong reaction by those who disagree with the proposals at the LSE. One attendant described the event as a “xenophobic meeting,” adding that a boycott of Technion would further isolate Jewish students on campus.
Many of those attending the discussion also highlighted the positive aspects of Technion’s research, such as its involvement in the creation of drugs for Parkinson’s disease and the three Nobel Prize winners which are affiliated with Institute.
Clifton’s meeting also came under criticism for targeting an institution solely because it is Israeli. While a broader ethics campaign exists – The Only Way is Ethics – some may see the proposals to boycott a university counterproductive as many Israeli academics are the most sympathetic members of society who advocate and encourage an end to the tensions in the region.
Thursday’s meeting was the start of an ongoing discussion into the LSE’s ties with the Israeli Institute of Technology and Robin Burrett, Postgraduate officer called for a “platform for dialogue, with a broad campaign involving the whole of the LSE student body.”