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Open Letter to the University of Vienna

We, the undersigned, condemn the invitation of Ayelet Shaked, minister of Justice and member of far-right party HaBayit HaYehudi in Israel who openly called for mass murder of Palestinians to hold a roundtable discussion at the University of Vienna on the 15th of February, called “Protecting Human Rights While Countering Terrorism – The Israeli Case”.

In July 2014, Shaked, who is known for her radical incitements on social media, publicly shared a quote from Uri Elitzur, who was a leading pro settler journalist and a close adviser to prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What follows are some excerpts of this quote from a translation which appeared in the Washington Post:

“The Palestinian people has declared war on us, and we must respond with war. Not an operation, not a slow-moving one, not low-intensity, not controlled escalation, no destruction of terror infrastructure, no targeted killings. Enough with the oblique references. This is a war. Words have meanings. This is a war. This is not a war against terror, and not a war against extremists, and not even a war against the Palestinian Authority. The reality is that this is a war between two people. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people. Why? Ask them, they started it. (…) Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. (…) They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

Shaked is founder of far-right advocacy group Yisrael Sheli and she is known for her extreme, ultranationalist views. Shaked furthermore took a clear anti-immigration stance, that explicitly targets African migrants in Israel.

We condemn the University of Vienna for inviting a far right politician who has utilized her position at the top of the Israeli government, perpetuating systematic human rights violations in the Palestinian Territories, to espouse divisive rhetoric and policies. Inviting Shaked, who was recently one of the main drivers of the widely criticized legislation bill to legalize settlement outposts and who openly supports the radical right settler movement, takes a clear stand against international law.

Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have campaigned for many years that “Israel’s settlement policy is inherently discriminatory and has resulted in grave human rights violations including destruction of homes, forced evictions, unlawful killings, arbitrary detentions and collective punishment.”

In light of the growing popularity of hate speech and racism on a global level, we believe that the University of Vienna has an ethical responsibility for eliminating the perpetuation of these divisive narratives within its grounds. Therefore, we demand a cancellation of the event and we demand that the University of Vienna take a clear position against the Israeli extreme right politician and justice minister who stands for hate speech and racism.

To see a list of the signatories (and to add your own) head over to the official page of the letter.