NEW DELHI: Students at Ashoka University have joined the chorus of protests against the ongoing war in Gaza and have urged the vice-chancellor to end all academic and research collaborations with Israel-based Tel Aviv University.

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A destroyed locality in occupied Gaza (Palestine) in October 2023. The destruction was in retaliation by Israel to the raids carried out inside the country by Hamas militants who control Gaza..[
Ashoka University student government, an elected student body, said in a letter to the vice chancellor that the university’s collaboration with institutions involved in human rights violations undermines its commitment to justice and human rights.

“We are deeply concerned about the ongoing genocide in Palestine in which at least 34,596 Palestinians have lost their lives and 77,816 have been injured due to the Israeli war on Gaza. As the Israeli military’s brutality persists…students across universities are now actively calling on their institutions to boycott Israeli universities and exchange programmes, to have open dialogue about the war on Gaza.

“The spirit and the results of ongoing protests in the universities in the form of encampments — embarked on by the students of Columbia University — are live examples,” the students body said in the letter.

The students claimed that Ashoka University, based in Haryana’s Sonipat, has research partnerships with Tel Aviv University, ongoing faculty visits for teaching, student mobility (outbound and inbound), research collaboration, short-term study opportunities as well as joint programmes.

“In light of the evidence presented regarding Tel Aviv University’s actions, we urge our institution to sever all ties with Tel Aviv University until tangible steps are taken to address the issues.

“Tel Aviv University’s close ties with the Israeli military and its support for the occupation of Palestinian territories raise serious ethical questions. The university’s collaboration with institutions involved in human rights violations undermines our commitment to justice and human rights.

“This includes Tel Aviv’s ties with Israeli weapons manufacturers like Elbit Systems. Professors from Tel Aviv University have been involved in drafting the IOF’s code of ethics, providing legal defense to IOF members for war crimes and drafting doctrines that dictate military operations,” the students’ body alleged.

The student government’s petition also mentioned the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls for the boycott of companies accused of being complicit in the war on Gaza.

It further said that all Palestinian universities had been demolished by the Israeli forces, Tel Aviv University “continue to exist to stifle conversation around the Palestinian people and to prevent Palestinian scholarly work” and that the institution allegedly receives funding and benefits from tie-ups with weapons manufacturers and Israeli intelligence agencies, such as Shin Bet and Mossad.

The petition said that Tel Aviv University has a responsibility to uphold the principles of academic freedom, social justice and human rights.

“By maintaining ties with a university linked to systematic human rights abuses, Ashoka University is complicit in these violations,” it said, adding that with the international community raising concerns over the war, Ashoka University should demonstrate its commitment to ethical conduct and human rights.


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