Teach-ins across Italy on BDS, Gaza, University & the Military (Bergamo, Padova, Bologna, Salerno, Naples) + major conference in Rome

The next two weeks, I am going to be busy discussing with many others the colonial war waged by the State of Israel, the militarization of our societies and the roles of our universities in both things, in teach-ins across Italy – adding to dozens of previous assemblies and public events I have been involved in since last October in Turin (here, here, here, among many others), Pisa and Florence, Messina and Palermo, Cagliari, Milan, Rome and Naples, and more (including interventions on national media, for instance here, here, here and grassroots radios, among others).

I ground these conversations around dual-use technologies and the political economy of involving universities in the defence sector, starting from my book Universitá e Militarizzazione (here for a review), to then expand on the contemporary genocidal situation in Gaza, but also on the role of local economic district in supporting the defence industry (here for a recent interview). The idea is to discuss these themes with colleagues, organisers, and students and to support and share local forms of resistance against the cultural mantra of war and the material economy of its implementation in Italy and beyond.

The forthcoming meetings are:

On Monday, 6th May, 2pm-6pm I will intervene online in an event organised at the University of Bergamo on Palestine and Israel. My intervention – among very relevant others! – will be at 5pm (see the poster below for full details).

On Tuesday, 8th May, at 6pm, I will take part in an online teach-in organised by the Spazio Catai (rete Potere al Popolo) at the University of Padova (info TBA).

On Thursday, 9th May, at 12noon, I will take part in an online teach-in for students currently holding a pro-Palestinian encampment in via Zamboni, in Bologna (info TBA). In Bologna I will also take part into another event on Saturday 11th – a day of debates organised by Laboratorio Bologna (TBA).

On Friday, 10th May, throughout the day, I will be in Rome for the first national conference organised the Observatory Against the Militarization of the Schools and the Universities. This event will be important for organising in Italy. It is open to the public – all info at this link.

On Wednesday, 15th May, at 10am, I will be in person at the University of Salerno, to discuss the above themes with my friends and colleagues Giso Amendola, Gennaro Avallone and Valentina Ripa (see details in the poster below).

Last but not least, on Thursday, 16th May, at 12:30pm I will be in person at the University Orientale of Naples, for a conversation with Viola Carofalo, Miguel Mellino and their students (details TBA).


Interview on il Manifesto on the new militarized political economy of Turin & ITA universities

Today, in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto, I tried to sum up the last three years of personal and collective thinking / political organising around the relationship between the university and the military sector, also in relation to the colonial war of Israel in Palestine.

The interview, in Italian, is available here: https://ilmanifesto.it/leonardo-sta-diventando-per-torino-e-per-il-politecnico-quello-che-fu-la-fiat/r/zPgY466LfF2b6WidCtAz2

An automatic translation is available below.

‘Leonardo is becoming for Turin and the Politecnico what Fiat was’
Interview with Michele Lancione, professor of political-economic geography

“Leonardo is becoming for Turin what Fiat once was”. Michele Lancione, full professor of Political-Economic Geography at the Polytechnic University of Turin, published last September with the publishing house Eris Università e militarizzazione. The dual use of freedom of research, well ahead of the current events of these days. “When I wrote it I wanted to open a discussion in the academic sphere, then there was an acceleration of the debate due to the disaster of the Palestinian situation that led to a strong awareness among students”.

In the preface, you wrote that he wanted to offer them a tool to ‘fight for the liberation of academic knowledge from military colonies’.

I did not imagine it would become normal to see police inside universities and students truncheoned for two placards. The perspective has been turned upside down: the university is used to have a critical spirit and protest, instead Minister Bernini gives reason to those who have sold it out. This has happened because for too long research has been intertwined with the military and the services connected to it, but this risks making the university lose its purpose of knowledge. Leonardo works to make a profit and should not pose ethical questions. The students’ protests stem from all this.

By militarisation, you do not only mean research.

No, I also mean that process, which began in the West after 11 September 2001, in which what is not pertaining to the defence sector, primarily public places, is turned into military.

The book asks whether the public university can do technological research without addressing the issue of dual use.

The transfer of knowledge or technology from the civil to the military or vice versa is a difficult issue to control. This impossibility of control is used as an excuse by those who are interested in bringing the university and the war industry together; we are told that we only collaborate with military partners such as Leonardo for civil research, but this is a hypocritical position. I will give an example: if a company makes a profit from armaments, it will be very easy to acquire technology that sends rockets to Mars, even to drop them on Gaza. But we must emphasise that if basic research is defunded, universities are almost obliged to look for money that way.

This, it seems to be understood, applies in particular to the Politecnico where you teach.

Since the automotive sector no longer guarantees jobs and research, Turin has decided to focus on the military aerospace sector. The first player is Leonardo. The Politecnico, which historically trained executives, managers and engineers for Fiat, saw a great opportunity in this new sector. In doing so, it granted Leonardo our knowledge and technologies, gave it an advantage over its competitors at the expense of the Italian university and offered it cultural legitimacy, a techno washing.

What role does Leonardo’s Med-Or foundation, on whose board of directors sit twelve rectors of Italian universities, play in all this?

It is an emblematic example of the militarisation of the university. Bernini, perhaps in good faith, boasts of this collaboration and is wrong. The think tank chaired by Minniti serves Leonardo to position itself in the strategic market of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It is natural that there should be an interest in the ongoing, or future, conflicts in these areas. Many chancellors are now beginning to wonder whether their mandate is to advise Italy’s leading arms manufacturer and whether this prevents sensible geopolitical analysis.

It is not only happening in Italy.

Across Europe there are very specific funding programmes that exist at various scales, such as Horizon. In Italy, the Pnrm (Piano Nazionale della Ricerca Militare – National Military Research Plan) was launched in 2022, which involves the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Education and Universities and has as its objective ‘the increase of the Defence knowledge base in high-tech sectors’. It actually serves to inject state resources and public researchers into the military industrial sector. But if the money is there, why not put it into basic research instead of throwing it to the military?

You are among the signatories of the letter that several professors sent to the rector of PoliTo.

We asked you to take a position on the beating of students inside the university, we are waiting for a clear answer.

On the academic boycott against Israel + new work to stop dual-use agreement with Italy (MAECI)

For a few weeks, a number of academics in Italy have been working to stop an agreement between the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State of Israel to finance ‘scientific projects’ that can lead themselves to military use. The agreement – this one – speaks of research focused on ‘frontier applications’ in the realm of precision optics, electronics and quantum technologies. Working for this kind of technologies with the State of Israel today means working with its military-industrial complex.

Our letter received more than 2,500 signatures from concerned academics and university personnel around Italy, and students have used it to organise on the matter across the country. We scored some concrete successes since the agreement has been stopped, or at least put in question, in a number of Universities, including Turin and the Normale of Pisa. The original letter – here – is in Italian, but I am translating it a bit below:

“At the end of February 2024, we learn that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is announcing a call for joint research projects based on the Industrial, Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement between Italy and Israel. We emphasise that the funding could be used to develop dual-use technology, i.e. for both civil and military use. This would aggravate our country’s international responsibilities since, despite the government’s assurances, Italy does not seem to have stopped exporting weapons to Tel Aviv as of 7 October 2023.
Given these premises, we demand that industrial, scientific and technological cooperation between Italian and Israeli universities and research centres be suspended, with the aim of putting pressure on the state of Israel to commit to respecting all international law, as is rightly demanded of all states in the world.
We also make this request in order to protect Italian institutions from the accusation of not having fulfilled the imperative duty to prevent genocide, wherever there is a danger of it, which is an obligation for UN member states according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, or of being complicit in war crimes, currently under investigation by the International Criminal Court. The MAECI notice does not protect Italian institutions because it may include the development of dual-use technologies and devices. Our request is in line with the statement, dated 23 February 2024, by numerous UN experts that member states should immediately refrain from transferring weapons and military technology to Israel, including research and know-how for possible war use, as there is an inescapable risk that they will be used to violate customary obligations under international humanitarian law. Moreover, the collaborations that we are asking to be discontinued appear to be in serious conflict with the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights that the government itself claims to be overseeing. It would be paradoxical to ask businesses to respect rights that are deemed secondary or violable in the actions of public and research organisations, which have a duty to comply with the republican constitutional order (which includes international law as an integral part of it).”

We have now prepared a new statement since tomorrow is the last day to stop the agreement, and strike action has been prepared by students and unions in Italy. Here is the text, in Italian: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Y8j8lPk9ptCog1U0gZL2m7-gxXLPXcwH9KGHSeqH_kU/edit

The conclusions read:

“On 10 April, the MAECI notice will expire, but the deep connivance of our government and our universities with the plausible genocide taking place in Gaza will not see a break except under pressure from those who study, teach and do research in our country’s academic and research infrastructure. For this reason, in addition to participating in tomorrow’s mobilisations, we invite the academic community to a national online assembly to be held on 17 April at 5pm to discuss how to relaunch initiatives to break the links between Italian public research, Israeli institutions and the military industry, and to build real bridges of peace through the creation of channels of cooperation and support for the Palestinian population.
We feel a strong ethical responsibility for our work within society.”On 10 April, the MAECI notice will expire, but the deep connivance of our government and our universities with the plausible genocide taking place in Gaza will not see a break except under pressure from those who study, teach and do research in our country’s academic and research infrastructure. For this reason, in addition to participating in tomorrow’s mobilisations, we invite the academic community to a national online assembly to be held on 17 April at 5pm to discuss how to relaunch initiatives to break the links between Italian public research, Israeli institutions and the military industry, and to build real bridges of peace through the creation of channels of cooperation and support for the Palestinian population.
We feel a strong ethical responsibility for our work within society.”

Below I am reporting some interviews I have been releasing in national media, on la Stampa, il Fatto Quotidiano and Repubblica on this matter. Similar exposure work has been done by a number of comrades (both students, unionists and academics), who have been attacked on national media. Avanti!

Three events this week on war economies, the militarization of education & BDS-Palestine in Turin and Milan

Spring has arrived, and the horror of the Israeli war and so many other wars are still here. We must not stop studying and discussing the intensification of militarization in our collective lives in the West and beyond. This week in Turin and in Milan, I will take part in three exciting public events, open to all (discussion will be in Italian).

On Monday, the 25th, at 20:30 in Turin (at OST Barriera), there will be a meeting on the capitalistic mode of production and the fragmentation of international markets. It is the launch of a very interesting book by the Rete dei Comunisti, upon which I will offer some reflections, among others.

On Tuesday, the 26th, at 16:00 in Milan (at the Universitá Statale di Milano, Legnaia), I will be discussing my book Universitá e Militarizzazione and be talking about the relationship between the university and the military sector with students and comrades.

Finally, on Thursday, the 28th, at 18:30 in Turin (at the Kontiki place via Cigliano), I will discuss a book, with others, about the Boycott, Disinvest, Sanction campaign and the involvement of Italian authorities in doing all sorts of problematic (read: militarized) dealings with the Israeli state.

I look forward to all of this! Posters and info are below.

Meeting in Turin on Universities and the Military (Mon 18th, 5pm CET) (ITA)

La settimana prossima, lunedí 18 continuiamo a confrontarci su guerra, universitá e militarizzazione con collegh* di CERTO (Coordinamento per l’Etica nella Ricerca) e corpo studentesco.

Ore 17 in presenza presso Sala Lauree del Dipartimento di Lingue

(Complesso Aldo Moro, Via S. Ottavio 18, terzo piano) o online al link nel poster.

Grazie a Pietro e Lorenzo per aver organizzato e per esserci!

Link al libro: https://www.erisedizioni.org/prodotto/universita-e-militarizzazione/

Our petition to fight the agreement between the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the state of Israel (ITA)

Con le bravissime Paola Rivetti e Alessandra Algostino (e tant* altr*) promuoviamo questa lettera indirizzata al Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale (MAECI) riguardante la rinnovata cooperazione di ricerca tra istituzioni italiane e israeliane.

Come si puo’ vedere dal bando – https://www.esteri.it/it/diplomazia-culturale-e-diplomazia-scientifica/cooperscientificatecnologica/accordi_coop_indscietec/ – non ci sono indicazioni per escludere che tale cooperazione porti allo sviluppo di tecnologie dual use, anzi: la terza linea di finanziamento e’ chiaramente utilizzabile per lo sviluppo di tecnologie di sorveglianza e controllo.

Chiediamo la sospensione del bando non solo per ragioni morali, ma anche per proteggere le istituzioni italiane che hanno il dovere di prevenzione di genocidio secondo la convenzione del 1948 e che, quindi, collaborando con le istituzioni israeliane, si potrebbero esporre al rischio di complicita’ con quello che la ICJ ha definito ‘un rischio palusibile di genocidio

La nostra lettera: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Q5uuXmdJeDEyi06Kv1VkLPXAeVkMbfl8gHxPh6JGLQM/edit

Il form per firmarla: https://forms.gle/FC6vSN1Z98mDEy75A

Student assembly on Israel, the war machine and the role of our Universities | Today in Turin

From Israel to Leonardo: The role of our universities in the war industry.

Today 17:30 at the Einaudi campus in Turin with Cambiare Rotta Torino, End Fossil and the Palestine Project.

The meeting is a conversation amongst anti-militarist and anti-extractive collectives, with the idea of gathering our knowledge and publishing an open-source booklet on these topics. All welcome.

Università, Militarizzazione, Guerra e Palestina – Meeting in Cagliari (ITA)

All’interno del bellissimo Ard Film Festival (https://alardfilmfestival.com/), organizzato a #Cagliari dall’Associazione Amicizia Sardegna #Palestina, parleremo di guerra, complesso militare industriale e il rapporto tra #Università e #Militarizzazione Eris Edizioni.

Questo sabato alle ore 11, Teatro Massimo di Cagliari.

Grazie a tutt* i compagn* e le compagn* che hanno contribuito a organizzare questo evento, inclusi No CPR Macomer LasciateCIEntrare Potere al Popolo A Foras – Contra a s’ocupatzione militare de sa Sardigna e la bravissima Alice Salimbeni

Programma: https://www.facebook.com/events/1494657184599311?ref=newsfeed

Libro: https://www.erisedizioni.org/prodotto/universita-e-militarizzazione/

Antifascist University Alliance – a new initiative in Turin

Today, we had our first meeting in Turin of our new antifascist university alliance.

This is a renewed form of activism that links our anti-fascist praxis to anti-militarism and the need to defend the terrain of our universities in order to fight inside and outside them. It comes out of the increased militarization and policing of our University spaces, as well as to fight the far-right acceleration of the political and societal spheres in Italy.

In our first public meeting, we talked about foibe (for a brief intro on the topic see here) with Eric Gobetti and Bruno Maida.

If you work in the university world in Turin, you can sign up and read our Manifesto here (in Italian): https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSenJkDVdA3i7h8FUqCUo2S-oG_uoICo4FY-TO4rReTSA1phbA/viewform?usp=sf_link

We must end the genocidal colonial project of Israel in Palestine

My anti-militarist practice has brought me, for many years, to embrace the Palestinian-led Boycott, Disinvest, Sanction (BDS) campaign against the Israeli military-industrial regime and its death project (I speak of this in my recent volume Universitá e Militarizzazione). For decades, we have witnessed the relentless colonization of post-1967 West Bank territories and the caging of Palestinian life in Gaza. Now, after the ignominious Hamas attack on October 7th, Palestinians are confronted with the extreme intensification of the colonial project of Israel in Palestine.

After more than 24,000 deaths in a few months, the destruction of present and past infrastructures, the domicides of homes, and the total annihilation of consistent parts of Gaza, we need to call the Israeli State’s intervention for what it is: a genocide. This is not an elaborate left-wing ‘woke’ fantasy but the reality of the war on the ground. I report below the joint statements of many UN Rapporteurs, including Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing and Ms. Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 – a must-read, to cease fire now, and then to stop this colonial occupation.

Over one hundred days into the war, Israel destroying Gaza’s food system and weaponizing food, say UN human rights experts

Source: OHCHR

GENEVA (16 January 2024) – Gazans now make up 80 per cent of all people facing famine or catastrophic hunger worldwide, marking an unparalleled humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip amid Israel’s continued bombardment and siege, according to UN human rights experts.

“Currently every single person in Gaza is hungry, a quarter of the population are starving and struggling to find food and drinkable water, and famine is imminent. Pregnant women are not receiving adequate nutrition and healthcare, putting their lives at risk. In addition all children under five – 335,000 – are at high risk of severe malnutrition as the risk of famine conditions continues to increase, a whole generation is now in danger of suffering from stunting,” said the experts. Stunting occurs when young children’s growth is hampered due to lack of adequate nourishment and causes irreparable physical and cognitive impairments. This will undermine the learning capacity of an entire generation.

Nowhere is safe in Gaza. Since 9 October, Israel declared and imposed a “total siege” on Gaza, depriving 2.3 million Palestinians of water, food, fuel, medicine, and medical supplies, this against the backdrop of a 17-year Israeli blockade, which before this war made approximately half of the people in Gaza food insecure and more than 80 percent reliant on humanitarian aid.

While the majority of aid distribution is concentrated in the southern governorates, since 1 January, only 21 per cent (5 out of 24) of planned deliveries of aid containing food and other lifesaving supplies reached their destination north of Wadi Gaza. The experts are particularly alarmed about conditions in northern Gaza, where the population faces prolonged food shortages and extremely restricted access to essential resources. In southern Gaza, a large concentration of individuals resides in inadequate shelters or areas devoid of basic amenities, escalating the brutal situation.

“It is unprecedented to make an entire civilian population go hungry this completely and quickly. Israel is destroying Gaza’s food system and using food as a weapon against the Palestinian people.”

Israel is destroying and blocking access to farmland and the sea. Recent reports allege that since Israeli military’s ground offensive started on 27 October, approximately 22% of agricultural land, including orchards, greenhouses, and farmland in northern Gaza, has been razed by Israeli forces. Israel has reportedly destroyed approximately 70% of Gaza’s fishing fleet. Even with little humanitarian aid that has been allowed to enter, people still lack food and fuel to cook. Most bakeries are not operational, due to the lack of fuel, water, and wheat flour along with structural damage. Livestock are starving and unable to provide food or be a source of food. Meanwhile, access to safe water continues to diminish while the healthcare system has collapsed due to the wide-spread destruction of hospitals, significantly heightening the spread of communicable diseases.

Israel has also destroyed more than 60% of Palestinian homes in Gaza, directly affecting the ability to cook any food, and causing domicide through the mass destruction of dwellings, making the territory uninhabitable. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has estimated that nearly 85% of Gaza’s population — representing 1.9 million people — is internally displaced, including many who have been displaced multiple times, as families are forced to move repeatedly in search of safety.

“We have raised the alarm of the risk of genocide several times reminding all governments they have a duty to prevent genocide. Not only is Israel killing and causing irreparable harm against Palestinian civilians with its indiscriminate bombardments, it is also knowingly and intentionally imposing a high rate of disease, prolonged malnutrition, dehydration, and starvation by destroying civilian infrastructure,” said the experts. “Aid needs to be delivered to Gazans immediately and without any hindrance to prevent starvation.”

“Our alarm for the unfolding genocide does not only refer to the ongoing bombardment of Gaza but also concerns the slow suffering and death caused by Israel’s long-standing occupation, blockade and current civic destruction, since genocide advances through an ongoing process and is not a singular event.”

“The clear path to achieving peace, safety, and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians lies in the realization of Palestinian self-determination. This can only be achieved through an immediate ceasefire and the cessation of the Israeli occupation”.

Mr. Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Ms. Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Ms. Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Ms. Paula Gaviria Betancur, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Ms. Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967; Ms. Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences; Mr. Pedro Arrojo Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Picture: Reuters.