Israel Academic Boycott Resources
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Article Source: The Guardian (letters), 27/05/2006
We call on Natfhe to reject the motion that "invites" academics to blacklist Israeli "institutions and individuals" that do not "publicly dissociate themselves" from "Israeli apartheid policies". The purpose of the apartheid analogy is not to shed light on the conflict but to mobilise an emotional vote for a blacklist. We oppose the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the daily violence that is necessary to sustain it, as we oppose campaigns to kill Israelis. We are for peace and mutual recognition between Israel and Palestine. But this boycott proposal would do more harm than good, if the aim is to bolster the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements.
The political test for Israeli academics builds on a tradition established by McCarthy in the US and the antisemitic purges in communist eastern Europe. We oppose forcing academics to sign a statement to demonstrate political cleanliness. Unions should have consistent policy with regard to human rights abuses and the curtailment of academic freedom that goes with them. We oppose the inconsistency of blacklisting Israelis, but adopting a different attitude to academics in the US, China, Russia, Britain, Sudan, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Syria or Egypt - or in the long list of other states that are responsible for equal or worse human rights abuses.
Israeli universities are among the most open and anti-racist spaces in Israel. They have large numbers of Arab students and teachers. The Oslo peace process was forged by links between Israeli and Palestinian academics.
Natfhe and the AUT are currently involved in a bitter dispute with university managements over pay. This boycott proposal degrades our unity at a moment when academics need to stand together. After democratic discussion, the AUT rejected the boycott; not one AUT branch voted in favour. Natfhe has not organised a discussion within its universities and colleges. This motion would be passed by a small coterie of activists and would not represent the democratic will of academic trade unionists.The two unions will merge three days after the debate. We do not want the UCU to be born, while fighting an industrial dispute, into a row over blacklisting Israeli colleagues.
Derek Meyer - University of Westminster, Natfhe
Leslie Bash - Anglia Ruskin University, Natfhe
Paul Langston - Aylesbury College, Natfhe
Stephen Soskin - Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, Natfhe
and 599 more academics worldwide.
Full list: http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/
On behalf of organisations representing hundreds of academics throughout occupied Palestine, we applaud the British academics who have proposed a motion to boycott Israel. At this time of escalating colonial repression, coupled with a particularly inhumane and illegal siege, Palestinians will be eagerly following the deliberations of the Natfhe council.
Israeli academic institutions are implicated in the various forms of oppression. Israeli research institutes, thinktanks and academic departments have historically granted legitimacy to academics who advocate ethnic cleansing, apartheid, denial of refugee rights and other discriminatory policies against the Palestinians. Cooperation with the intelligence services, the army, and other agencies of the occupation regime is part of the routine work of the Israeli academy. No Israeli academic body has ever taken a public stand against the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, nor criticised their government's longstanding siege of Palestinian academic institutions.
The Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions is endorsed by the most important associations of academics and professionals and is supported by dozens of civil society institutions in Palestine. Like Palestinian civil society's widely endorsed call for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), it is based on the moral principle of the international campaign against South African apartheid: that people of conscience must take a stand against oppression and use all means of civil resistance available to end oppression.
We hope that Natfhe members will join the growing international BDS movement by showing that no business as usual can be conducted with the Israeli academy until it takes an unequivocal stand against the forms of oppression practiced by the Israeli state. Only that can give us hope for the realisation of justice, equality and genuine peace.
Former acting president of Birzeit University; founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Director general, Federation of Unions of Palestinian University Professors and Employees
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