The anti-Israel Academic Boycott Resource Pages:
Return to Boycott Resources Main Page and Table of Contentshttp://www.zionismontheweb.org/academic_boycott/
NATFHE are again (May 2006) considering a boycott of Israeli academics for the latest developments see the Academic Boycott Resources Page. Below however are old background documents received about the possibility of an academic boycott of Israeli Universities by the NATFHE - National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education in 2005. NATFHE have decided to merger with the AUT, the Association of University Teachers who had a boycott at the same time as the proposals mentioned below were discussed. That did come to much, but this latest attempt may be different and may effect the policy of the new merged union when it happens. We are not responsible for the contents of the documents below, though we hope this is useful information in light of the renewed boycott attempts.
The Academic Friends of Israel
P.O. Box 360 Email: email@example.com
Harrow Website: www.academics-for-israel.org
1st June 2005
You will know by now that the NATFHE conference did not "officially" issue a call for an academic boycott of Israel however they almost unanimously passed a motion supporting the AUT's right to do so and expressed solidarity with that first council decision. There was no mention of the second. The only people out 250 delegates to vote against this motion were myself and one other person. You can read the emergency motion at the end of the email.
No one should be in any doubt that if the AUT decision last Thursday had gone the other way, NATFHE would have overwhelmingly supported a call for a boycott.
I came away from Eastbourne under no illusions that by the time of next year's conference all NATFHE members will have been consulted and had the opportunity to discuss the issue of an academic boycott of Israel and this will be on the agenda again.
We may have won this battle but their campaign continues, this is not about boycotts or academic freedom but about the delegitimation of the state of Israel.
The NATFHE leadership made it very clear they have learnt from the AUT experience and as a result of the solicitor's letters that the AUT received that they have to consult widely and any action taken must not put the union's assets at risk.
Both the AUT and NATFHE have now agreed to ballot the membership on the planned merger, the boycott issue could put an end to the merger if at next year's conferences one Union calls for a boycott and the other does not.
NATFHE's position on the boycott issue is for me very clear and it is that they are actively pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel. The union has had links with Ber Zeit University for over 10 years and has always been critical of Israel and its government and policies. If you read their latest statements, speeches and letters on NATFHE which are attached you will understand what I mean.
NATFHE also passed my motion which on the rise of anti-Semitism, which called for the union to arrange anti- Semitism awareness training for its members. I found it ironic that twenty minutes after receiving my explanation in complete silence as to why I opposed their emergency motion on the AUT decision I should receive a round of applause for my seconding of the motion on antisemitism. It was clear that since many of the delegates do not see any link between their antipathy toward Israel and anti- Semitism and understand that anti-Zionism is racism they could benefit from attending one of these training days.
I would imagine that the AUT membership will also revisit the issue over the next year and I ask all of you who resigned to rejoin immediately because your vote could be important in the coming months.
Although the AUT last week rescinded its call for a boycott may I draw your attention to some of the detail in the motions that were passed, a copy of which is attached. [Below]
As I understand it the AUT is to set up a committee to look at AUT International policy. This committee may come back with recommendations to ensure that the AUT never finds itself again in the position it was four weeks ago regarding academic boycotts and will only issue a boycott call again under extreme circumstances. We will have to monitor the progress of this committee.
However the AUT executive is mandated to work with the TUC and NATFHE to examine and I quote from the motion:
..how best to implement this [international] policy and to provide practical solidarity to Palestinian and Israeli trade unionists struggling to maintain academic freedom, undertake research and teach students whilst arguing for Israel's compliance with UN resolution...
Now we all know where NATFHE stands on these issues and there is already bias by using the phrase "Israel's compliance with UN resolution".
Yesterday I heard Alan Dershowitz speak and he said that when he talks on campus about Israel 20% of his audience are pro-Israel, 20% pro-Palestinian and 60% who have no idea about the issues or the facts relating to Israel.
In the next twelve months it is this 60% of the AUT and NATFHE membership who don't know the facts are the ones we have get on our side.
Finally I recommend you all read Melanie Phillips latest two comments on the AUT which can be found at:
http://www.melaniephillips.com/diary/archives/001231.html http://www.melaniephillips.com/diary/archives/001233.html Regards, Ronnie Fraser Academic Friends of Israel
Emergency motion 25 on AUT Israeli University Boycott
Conference notes: * the AUT Council's previous decision to boycott two Israeli universities and the resulting attacks on, and misleading and insulting claims about, the AUT; * a number of NATFHE Branches' and CoComs' declarations expressing solidarity with AUT's opposition to oppression in the Middle east, and affirming AUT's right to act.
Conference affirms that: * to criticise Israel policy or institutions is not anti-Semitic; * it is the duty of educationalists and their organisations, to speak out and act against oppression and discrimination; * it supports the AUT's right to make this decision.
Following this motion, general secretary Paul Mackney made a brief statement clarifying the meaning of 'Israel policy' in the motion as referring to Israeli government policy, drawing delegates' attention to NATFHE's existing policy on Israel/Palestine, and to speeches he had made based on that policy, and committing NATFHE to work with the AUT and the TUC to develop this based on a debate involving all of the union's membership.
The Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld - Chairman of the Board of Fellows, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Henry Grunwald Q.C. - President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews
John D A Levy - Director of the Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East
Andrew R. Marks, M.D. - Columbia University, USA
Professor Leslie Wagner CBE
Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham
ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY TEACHERS
MOTIONS CARRIED AT AUT SPECIAL COUNCIL 26 MAY 2005
Southampton Council notes that at the last council, AUT international policy on Israel and Palestine was resolved in the absence of defining principle and without debate or acceptable standards of democratic procedure.
Council therefore resolves:
1 that international policy must be based on consistent principle, openly debated and democratically confirmed
2 that the European and international affairs sub-committee of the national executive update such a policy for debate at the next meeting of council
3 that in light of this, existing policy relating to boycotts of Israeli universities should be set aside
4 to reiterate its long-term position in regard to the occupation
5 to mandate the executive to work with NA TFHE and the TUC to establish an investigative commission charged with examining how best to implement this policy and to provide practical solidarity to Palestinian and Israeli trade unionists struggling to maintain academic freedom, undertake research and teach students whilst arguing for Israel's compliance with UN resolution, with a view to reporting back to the next council.
1 notes that resolutions on boycotting specific Israeli universities were passed in circumstances which precluded due investigation, consideration and debate.
2 believes that freedom of expression, open debate and unhampered dialogue are prerequisites of academic freedom and that the academic boycott motions carried at the AUT council constitute a significant threat to the free communication of ideas, and thus to the fundamental principles of academic freedom to which the membership subscribes.
3 notes that a large number of leading professional associations, in Europe and North America, have condemned these motions as an attack on academic freedom
4 believes that their effect has been to damage AUT, bringing it into disrepute both nationally and internationally.
Council therefore repeals with immediate effect the boycott of Israeli universities introduced in motions 58 and 59 at the council meeting of 20-22 April 2005.
Moved by UCL and seconded by Strathclyde
York Council withdraws all threats to boycott Israel universities.
Queen Mary Council notes that certain members have instructed solicitors to write to the general secretary threatening legal action against AUT over the proposed boycott of Israeli universities. We call upon these members to withdraw this threat of legal action and accept, as will all other members of the association, the democratic decisions of the Special Council.
Natfhe policy on Israel/ Palestine
1. NATFHE National Executive Council statement 6 May 2005
2. Extract from Paul Mackney’s speech to NATFHE conference 28th May 2005
3. The speech given by the NATFHE general secretary , Paul Mackney at the Palestine Solidarity campaign rally on London on 21st May 2005
4. NATFHE’s policy on Palestine / Israel and relations with Israeli academic institutions 
1. 6 May 2005 NATFHE National Executive Council statement
At the NEC on 30 April 2005, the following resolution was carried overwhelmingly: In the light of AUT Council decisions on Palestine and Israel, the NEC confirms its policy of working to support the building of civil society in Palestine, including cooperation with AUT where appropriate, to build positive relations with Palestinian and Israeli institutions and organisations which share our goals, and the consideration of sanctions where they are targeted and deliverable in respect of institutions which are creating obstacles to a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Palestine.
The NEC further resolved to support the Palestine Solidarity Campaign demonstration in London on 21 May.
2. Extract from Paul Mackney’s speech to NATFHE conference 28th May 2005
Politics and unions
Education unions cannot seal themselves off from the wider world. I am proud that NATFHE plays a full part in the national and international trade union movement, where people of all colours of the rainbow, support each other industrially, educationally and culturally.
We have urged an end to racist scaremongering and Islamophobia and the protection of our civil liberties - not ID cards, house arrest, Belmarsh and Guantanamo. Tony Benn told me, in optimistic mode, that in a year or so from now no-one will admit to being a Blairite. He may be right but anyone not outraged by what is happening to our civil liberties is not paying attention.
We have argued that refugees should be able to use their skills here. CARA has calculated that it costs about £1,000 to prepare a refugee doctor for UK practice compared with £250,000 to train one from scratch.
We have worked with social movements for justice in an increasingly individualistic and cynical world, showing practical solidarity with people in China, Palestine, Columbia, Iraq, Venezuela and Grenada.
I refute entirely the accusations that NATFHE's support for the rights of Palestinians makes us anti-semitic, but trust conference will support the NEC motion on anti-Semitism that asks the union to ensure that staff and students work in an atmosphere free from that form of discrimination and intimidation.
Contrary to the insinuations of Melanie Phillips, we have been completely up-front about our policy against the Iraq war and for a speedy withdrawal.
I don't know whether, as she fulminates, this makes me a 'colossus of militancy', 'a grand revolutionary fromage', and 'a radical political agitator of the first rank'! But I do know the vast majority of our members agree with the policy, not least because we had been led to expect that Gordon's war chest would be spent on expanding educational opportunity rather than a war devoid of international legitimacy.
We have rightly prioritised opposition to all forms of institutional discrimination, oppression and harassment and must keep up the battle against homophobia. But it needs to be emphasized that bigotry dressed up in religious clothing is still bigotry. If we based NATFHE's policies on the precepts of Leviticus and Exodus, we would approve of child slavery, the purchase of bondmen and bondmaids by priests, the violation of women captured after battle, sex with slave girls and their chastisement provided it is non-fatal.
We ally with other progressive unions for the repeal of the anti-union laws, the impossible balloting obstacle course and the punitive deductions for industrial action; for individual employment rights from day one; for full rights for agency workers including access to public sector pensions which we have won through the Allonby case; for legislation to introduce education and training committees in each workplace; and for a statutory right to paid educational leave.
We have asked ministers to close the fascist hate websites and to make it fully lawful for unions to expel fascist activists. We will not tolerate such politically violent parties in our universities and colleges. And we will not have them in our union.
I am proud of these policies and we will take them in to the new union when we get there. Because, be clear, AUT members are just as ready as we are to resist Charles Clarke's brave new world of house arrest for those who fail to keep up with their top-up fee repayments and orange-uniforms for any protesting pensioner caught sheltering under the hood of a duffel coat……..
3. The speech given by the NATFHE general secretary , Paul Mackney at the Palestine Solidarity campaign rally on London on 21st May 2005
I speak as General Secretary of NATFHE, the University and College Teachers union. I am also on TUC General Council.
The press has asked me many times this week why we are here today. We are here today to express solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Palestine and in exile. But we're also here because the press doesn't tell people what is going on.
NATFHE is affiliated to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. More and more unions are affiliated. We call on all unions to join up for solidarity.
At the TUC last November Shaher Sae'd of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions told us why.
He said 60% of the labour force in Palestine - almost half a million people - were without jobs. 85% Palestinian households in Gaza and 58% in the West Bank live below the poverty line.
[Zionism on the Web note - Unemployment and poverty in Palestine are a direct consequence of the policies of the Palestine National Authority, which is responsible for the grievous deterioration in Palestinian economy since the Oslo process began. The present misery is due in large part to the violence instigated by the PNA in September of 2000, the Al-Aqsa Intifadah.]
He explained that cities, villages and refugee camps are like big open prisons - often cut off from outside movement by 7pm to 7am curfews; that the Israeli army frequently invades them, arresting, killing, uprooting olive trees, destroying farms, and bulldozing houses, roads and workplaces.
[Zionism on the Web note - These conditions did not exist before September 2000, and are attempts to control planning of terror attacks and manufacture of rockets and explosives.]
Friends of Bir Zeit University have told us how staff and students have been harassed for years by Israeli forces. Since the invasion, many have been searched, beaten, arrested, stranded without food or money. Roads to the university have been blocked and dug up, telephone lines and water pipes cut. Classes have frequently had to be suspended.
The UK press in recent weeks has spilt gallons of ink on the question of academic freedom. It has said little or nothing on the denial of that freedom for many Palestinians. We need to remember that over 50% of Palestinians are under 18. The press never mentions that, 2j3rds of children live in poverty or that 30% of under-fives are suffering from chronic malnutrition.
[Zionism on the Web note - The loss of freedom of Palestinians is regrettable. It was not true before September 2000. It is the direct result of the Intifadeh.]
It has barely lifted its pen on what Shaher Sae'd called the life of living hell for the Palestinian people where hundreds of fixed and mobile checkpoints and borders - including the so-called separation wall - make it virtually impossible for many to go to work or farm their land and make going to school or college precarious.
The TUC delegation to Israel and Palestine got some experience of this when it was refused entry to Nablus in November 2003. Palestinian trade unionists such as Anna AI Attira have frequently been prevented from leaving to attend international trade union meetings.
The world should know that, whether or not British trade unionists support a strategy of total boycott of Israel - and NATFHE does not - all of us oppose the oppression of the Palestinian people and join the GFTU in calling for:
. removal of the illegal settlements, the return of confiscated land and an end to the killing of civilians;
. the enforcement of the rights of Palestinian people to freedom and independence, according to all relevant UN resolutions;
. the establishment an independent and democratic Palestinian state side by side with an Israeli state, both living together in security as good neighbours;
. massive international investment into funds to assist the rebuilding of Palestinian civil society such as the ILO fund for
Palestinian employment and social protection.
We say to the UK Government, Blair and Straw:
. get off the coat-tails of George W Bush and start implementing the UN resolutions;
. stop the sale of arms to Israel until it ends its 35 year occupation of Palestinian land;
. stop pussy-footing around and join the PSC in demanding the withdrawal of the occupying Israeli forces;
. set an example by withdrawing from Iraq; ... because there will be peace in the middle east without justice for the Palestinian people.
[Zionism on the Web note - The above is presented exactly as received, though it was probably an error.]
4. Letter addressed to Branch Secretaries, Regional Secretaries and the NEC
NATFHE’s policy on Palestine / Israel and relations with Israeli academic institutions
I am writing to you concerning the evolution of NATFHE’s position in regard to Palestine and Israel, following decisions taken by the NEC meeting on 2 May and at our Annual National Conference lat the end of May.
On 13 April 2002, in the wake of the Israeli incursions into the Palestinian West Bank towns, the NATFHE NEC passed a resolution which concluded, ‘NATFHE NEC further resolves that all UK institutions of Higher and Further Education be urged immediately to review – with a view to severing – any academic links they may have with Israel. Such links should be restored only after full withdrawal of all Israeli forces, opening of negotiations to implements UN resolutions and the restoration of full access to all Palestinian HE and FE institutions.’ This policy, which we sought to implement by asking branches to approach their institutions requesting that they review their links with Israeli academic institutions with a view to severing them, has now been reviewed by the NATFHE NEC in the light of changing circumstances.
[Zionism on the Web - The occasion for the "further incursions into the Palestinian West Bank towns" was a series of deadline suicide bombings that claimed over over 100 lives. At the time, it was falsely and maliciously charged that Israel had committed a massacre in Jenin, a charge later proved to be without foundation.]
NATFHE Head Office has had no reports of substantive take up of this policy over the last year, although it has aroused significant press interest. There have been a small number of resignations and some new recruits in response to our policy on Palestine / Israel, although ‘boycott’ has sometimes been the peg on which objections and resignations have hung. However, the debate about the rights and wrongs of ‘boycott’ (never our word, but foisted on us), has obscured the real issues of the rights and wrongs of the Israeli actions which led to the original NATFHE position.
The situation in Palestine / Israel has significantly worsened since the policy was adopted, with even greater brutality on the part of the Israeli forces, the hardening of attitudes by a re-elected Sharon government and for the first time the threat of actual starvation among sections of the Palestinian population, in the context of a much more all embracing international crisis. On the other hand, in however flawed a way, as part of their attempt to legitimise the attack on Iraq and set it within the notion of a wider settlement in the region, the US administration supported by the British government, have put forward a ‘road map’ to Palestinian statehood. Meanwhile a range of voices sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, from Education International to individuals like Naom Chomsky, have called for keeping the lines open to Israeli academics. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign distinguish between academic and economic boycott, and focus their work on the latter. An EI mission to Palestine and Israel last autumn called for unions outside the region to have dialogue with the teacher unions in Palestine and in Israel, and to promote dialogue between the two. The anti-war movement has made a strong and clear link between the Iraq crisis and justice for Palestine; has played a prominent part in the anti-war campaign, and the General Secretary spoke at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign rally on 17 May.
The NATFHE NEC believe that it is now time to move on, including making common cause with other trade unions in the UK and within EI, and supporting bodies like the Friends of Bir Zeit University (FOBZU). We are still waiting for the situation to improve sufficiently for FOBZU to engage with its ‘right to education’ work, which we have agreed to support. I reported on the possibility of a higher education trade unionists delegation to Palestine / Israel, funded by WUS, and this will be part of a process of re-focussing our work. These are not ‘soft options’: building contacts and supporting dialogue and the re-building of Palestinian education are hard and painstaking tasks, which few from outside the region have worked hard to make limited progress. Dialogue with Israeli and Palestinian academics has never been easy and attitudes generally will have hardened, and despair increased, in the last year. There is a job of work to do within EI to get it to implement its existing policies and to improve on them.
[Zionism on the Web note - John Strawson an associate of Bir Zeit University, explains why he opposed the AUT boycott here. ]
In summary, the NEC believe that NATFHE policy should be
1) The NEC believes we should now move on from the policy of ‘reviewing links’ enunciated in the April 2002 resolution.
2) The NEC has agreed that NATFHE should pursue a policy based on active support for Palestinian post-school education including work with FOBZU on the Palestinian ‘right to education’ campaign’; promotion of links with Palestinian and Israeli unions, and exploration of possible twinning with Palestinian and Israeli universities; work within EI, including making use of the forthcoming EI World Congress in July 2004; participation in a possible forthcoming WUS mission; work within the UK political and trade union framework to press for the ‘road map’ to the establishment of a Palestinian state is actually put into effect. (The AUT agreed similar policies at its summer Council meeting, and it is hoped that we can work closely with them on these issues.)
3) The NEC have agreed that NATFHE affiliates to the Trade Union Friends of Palestine and/or Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
In the light of the scale of the current international crisis, the General Secretary made a printed report on international developments to delegates to the Annual National Conference, which touched on some of these issues and NATFHE’s work in the Stop the War campaign (attached).
If you have any queries relating to the issues raised in this circular, or if you or your colleagues wish to help carry this work forward, please contact Paul Bennett at Head Office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
BLACKPOOL, 24 –26 MAY 2003
The critical international situation has continued to figure very largely in the thinking and work of the NATFHE leadership, as of the trade union movement as a whole in the UK and in other countries, in the last 12 months. Often this has required us to respond quickly during the year to new challenges on the basis of principles laid down in previous Conference resolutions. Throughout the year, the TUC has sought the views of affiliates on the evolving international situation and its implications for different sectors, and there has been a special TUC General Council on the threat of war with Iraq. Therefore, following the practice adopted last year, I have prepared this brief report on our international work.
The year has been dominated by the threat, then the actuality of war with Iraq, and now with the aftermath. Given the pivotal role the UK government has played as the ally of the US government, and the depth of opposition to the war from many sections of British society, it was inevitable that NATFHE would be required to take a view on the war. I have been glad to find that, overwhelmingly, NATFHE members have supported the principled opposition to the war which the NATFHE NEC and I have expressed. The NEC agreed our support for and affiliation to the Stop the War campaign. A great many NATFHE members have participated as individuals in the rallies and other events against the war including the largest ever such demonstration in London on 15 February. Our criticisms of the war before it began, on the basis that it flouted international law, was establishing a new unilateral concept of ‘pre-emptive war’ and was being fought for specious and ungrounded reasons, and that it would generate new problems and new threats to world peace, have all been borne out by events.
Over the last six months, the international and UK trade
union movements have had intense internal debates but presented a strong voice for a peaceful resolution of the crisis
involving Iraq, a need to fight terrorism in appropriate and effective ways, and the need to set the immediate crisis in
the context of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East region as a whole – and above all the need for a respect for
the international institutions as a peaceful means of conflict resolution whether in respect of Iraq or Palestine.
Education International’s world Executive Board and European Regional Committee have both passed resolutions on these
lines. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) said as war broke out, ‘ The very moment the hostilities have
started in Iraq, the ETUC reaffirms their opposition to this US, UK and Spanish led war which lacks international
legitimacy.’ The Trades Union Congress has also taken a strong position, both at the General Council, and in a joint
letter to Bush and Blair by John Monks and John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO (USA). The worldwide marches and rallies against
the war on 15 February demonstrated the strength of opinion from all sections of society against the war.
NATFHE has participated in the wider actions of the trade union movement and has taken a strong anti-war position. Accommodation and other resources at Britannia Street were made available to the Stop the War Coalition to help the press preparations for the demonstrations of 15 February. I joined a diverse range of speakers in addressing the 15 February rally in Hyde Park. The Treasurer and I spoke at similar rallies on 22 March and 12 April. I was also one of a small group of TUC General Council members who tried to invoke a clause of the TUC constitution providing for the recall of Congress in order to prevent an imminent threat of war. NATFHE played a part in the European Committee of Education International in January in ensuring the passage of the motion referred to above. NATFHE has been successful in making its stance on the war known in the media, and has responded to the very small number of members who have expressed concern at the union’s stance. A much larger number of members, and members of other unions, have strongly supported the NATFHE position. Alice Mahon MP addressed the February NEC, and gave a bleak account of both the international situation and of the domestic consequences. Together with the General Secretaries of NUT, NASUWT, AUT and EIS, I wrote to the Prime Minister calling for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Before the attack on Iraq, the Hon Treasurer wrote to the Prime Minister pointing out that the Iraqi community in the UK held a number of positions on the prospect of war, and many opposed it.
The Bush / Blair alliance has made a linkage between Iraq and wider regional questions notably the need for a just resolution of the Palestinian question. On the other hand, since the last year’s conference, the situation has significantly worsened with a strengthened Sharon government in power in Israel, making ever larger scale incursions into the Palestinian territories, and creating obstacles to the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Meanwhile suicide bombings continue, and the Israeli military are now assassinating supposed terrorist leaders with impunity, without regard to associated civilian casualties, and have moved on to killing foreign peace activists and journalists. The establishment of a new Palestinian government may give at least a theoretical possibility of progress.
Work on capacity building for a civil society among organisations working on education and civil society projects, like FOBZU, is on hold in the present dire crisis. Steve Sinnott, Deputy General Secretary of NUT reported to the NEC in December on the EI mission to Palestine and Israel; the official report is available from Paul Bennett at Head Office.
Since the NEC call for branches to review their institutions’ links with Israeli institutions in April 2002 in the wake of the Israeli military incursion into the West Bank towns, we have had very little feedback on branch or institutional action taken on this issue but a considerable amount of media interest in what has been referred to and discussed simplistically as a policy of ‘boycott’; we have taken the opportunity to explain that the policy has never been one of straightforward boycott, but that we believe UK institutions should maintain links with institutions and projects which help build a positive relationship between Israel and Palestine, contribute to the peace process or help build civil society in Palestine. In the light of changing circumstances the NEC on 2 May, decided that NATFHE should move on from the policy of ‘reviewing links’ enunciated in the April 2002 resolution, and to inform branches of this change of strategy.
The May NEC also decided to pursue a policy based on active support for Palestinian post-school education including work with FOBZU on the Palestinian ‘right to education’ campaign’; promotion of links with Palestinian and Israeli unions; work within EI, including making use of the forthcoming EI World Congress in July 2004; participation in the proposed WUS mission to look at higher education in Israel and Palestine; work within the UK political and trade union framework to press for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
It was agreed to affiliate to the Trade Union Friends of Palestine and Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and also to seek to ensure that in any emergency motion put to Conference on the international crisis, the right of Palestine to statehood and the rights of every Palestinian to education are included as key elements.
Other matters in brief
Solidarity work NATFHE has affiliated to the Colombia Solidarity Campaign and Justice for Colombia. In April, the President and Maire Daley participated in a War on Want delegation to Colombia together with trade unionists from AUT, UNISON and NUJ to examine higher education in Colombia, and their findings will be reported in a fringe meeting at Conference. Teachers take the lead in the Colombian trade union movement and are the target for murder and intimidation – 17 have been killed this year alone. NATFHE is considering ways it can support the TUC Respite Scheme for Colombian trade unionists. As a matter of routine we support petitions and other activity on international human rights activities, eg on Zimbabwe, brought to our attention by the TUC, EI and Amnesty International.
GATS, globalisation Thanks largely to pressure mounted by the trade union movement and NGOs nationally and at the European level, the European Union has rejected any further infiltration of GATS into education in this round, but it seems certain that post-school education will remain in the sights of those wishing to open it up to a global marketplace. Education International has set up a global Task Force to look at strategies for dealing with the challenges of globalisation and the GATS in higher education, and NATFHE official Paul Bennett is serving on this body.
ETUCE The ETUCE and other European trade union bodies face the major challenges of European enlargement later this year, with the dramatic expansion of the EU likely to significantly alter its character and posing a number of practical and structural problems. It is important for NATFHE to work to ensure that the interests of post school education are not lost in this upheaval. It is valuable that NATFHE and the AUT have been able to continue to work closely together at the European and international levels to represent the sector.
BIGTU The British and Irish Group of Teachers’ unions, continues to play a valuable role in enabling the 12 teachers unions in the UK and the Republic of Ireland to speak with a single voice, and NATFHE provides secretariat services to the Group.
Conclusion: NATFHE position on the international crisis
To return to the main themes of this report, it is only right that Annual National Conference has the opportunity to discuss these issues. However, the complexity and inter-linked nature of a number of them, particularly as they relate to the crisis caused by the Iraq war makes it difficult to cover them adequately in a motion limited to 100 words.
Therefore I would suggest that, whatever more specific motions are on the Conference agenda on international matters, Conference endorses this document, which is largely concerned with actions done in the name of NATFHE, and endorses the following principles:
- As a matter of urgency, the UN should be given responsibility for the international community’s contribution to the physical reconstruction in Iraq
- the UN’s global role on security issues should be reaffirmed
- the Iraqis should now be allowed to determine their own constitution and government
- the international community should help rebuild Iraqi schools, hospitals and infrastructure, and the teachers’ union contribution to this is to be coordinated by Education International
- foreign troops should leave Iraq as quickly as possible
- cessation of hostilities in Israel and the Palestinian territories and withdrawal of Israeli occupying forces from the territories; support for a free, viable and independent state of Palestine; and an international aid package for the reconstruction of civil society, carried forward on the basis of security for both Palestinian and Israeli citizens.
- the UK government should prioritise rebuilding its damaged political position within Europe as a matter of urgency
- there must be no more ‘pre-emptive wars’ outside international law.
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