The anti-Israel Academic Boycott Resource Pages
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This web page collates the various articles on the Anti-Zionist NATFHE boycott of Israel and Israeli Universities that lasted ror a week in 2006. More information is available at the Boycott Resources Main Page.
Boycotts in the UK are co-ordinated by the Palestinian run "Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)" and BRICUP the "BRItish Committee for Universities for Palestine". BRICUP was created in 2005 in response to a Palestinian call for the boycott and is designed to make the boycott efforts look "grass roots" and cover the political coordination by people who have nothing to do with British (or any other) academia and simply wish to bash Israel. It serves as a name for the group of political activists, who just happen to be academics, and put politics above academia. In response to the creation of BRICUP, and reports of the groups aims in the press, the National Postgraduate Committee which represents all postgraduates in the UK voted in a policy against Academic Boycotts of Israel. This allowed Britain's postgraduates to respond immediatly when first the AUT and later (once the AUT had repealed their boycott decision) NATFHE voted in boycotts of Israeli academia. According to NPC any such boycotts are an abuse of academia that is against the public interest.
After losing with AUT, where a grass roots ground swell of disgust at the union triggered local meetings then an emergency conference which overwhelmingly rejected the boycott, the political activists moved on to NATFHE. Historically NATFHE has been the more radical and in general more anti-Israel of the unions. The two unions were in any case baout to merge. The political activists managed to pass a more wide sweeping and McCarthyist boycott, partly due to the fact that it would never be implemented (the merger making new policy redundant 7 days fromt he end of the conference).
This page provides information on the NATFHE boycott and is designed as a resource for those interested in academic freedom. Should BRICUP try another boycott with the new merged union, we hope these pages will provide a reminder to those who are able to make a difference.
On this page...
NATFHE boycott that was - Zionism on the Web summary
Blogs about the NATFHE boycott
NATFHE boycott that was
by Andre Oboler, Zionism On The Web (UK), June 2006
The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) decided to boycott Israeli Academics who do not demonstratively oppose their government. The Union also congratulated Hamas (a proscribed terrorist organisation [Home Office]) on their electoral victory which has brought the Palestinians close to civil war [Aljazeera 5/18/2006 and Reuters 21/5/2006). There was significant opposition to the motion with the final vote being recorded as 106 for, 71 against with 21 abstentions.
While they may think of themselves as a powerful force of the British elite, in really British academics, or at least their unions, have seemed able only to create and foster divisions in society - both at home in the UK and in the Middle East. This boycott only lasted until the 1st of June when NATFHE and the AUT merged, but unless people continue to watch the situation and speak out this "debate" will set an agenda of division and conflict for the UK, and promote War and the death of innocents on both sides in the Middle East. Far from working towards unity some media reports (e.g. Education Guardian 20/6/06) have attacked Jewish groups for their reaction against the boycott and the antisemitic undertones behind it.
The AUT on the other hand spoke out against this boycott. The AUT went through grass roots discussion between the passing of a boycott motion last year and the its repeal a few months later. The AUT have strongly advised its members not to implement this NATFHE boycott policy, and the executive have said they will argue against the new union (the UCU) adopting a similar policy at its first conference in June 2007. While the AUT boycott should never have happened, at least that union grew from the experience.
With the merger British academics can choose to put these Israel bashing attacks on academic freedom behind them. As NATFHE and AUT split on this issue, members maybe left with a new, and weakened union. It is unfortunate that this motion was ever tabled, let alone aproved. Academics and society as a whole must now live with the consequences of a continuing attack on academic values and freedoms. Students have expressed concern saying the motion will "discourage interfaith dialogue between youngsters in British schools, as well as damaging the quality of education" (AJ6). It is up to the UCU to decide who controls its agenda and whether it truely wants to be a home to radicals and division. The other option is ofcourse unity and academic freedom for the good of the membership, the education sector, and the public.
Please refer other people interested in academic freedom to this address: http://www.zionismontheweb.org/academic_boycott/
1. The text of the motions
30th May 2006
Board of deputies: NATFHE POLICY "PERNICIOUS"
The Board of Deputies deplores the passing of a resolution at the NATFHE conference yesterday recommending a boycott of Israeli academics. Whilst the very idea of an academic boycott should be an anathema to academics, the particular nature of the NATFHE resolution, whereby Israeli academics must publicly declare their political views and subject them to the scrutiny of British academics, is especially pernicious.
Israeli academics operate in a free society and will undoubtedly have many different political views. Academic institutions in Israel accept students and faculty members from across the Israeli society, including Jews, Muslims and Christians. To single out Israeli academics and institutions in what purports to be an attempt to influence Israeli government policy is perverse and discriminatory. It is a sad day when lecturers in higher education, a section of British society that should have open minds, should have closed theirs so entirely.
Commenting on the resolution, Board Chief Executive, Jon Benjamin, noted that "the resolution was carried by a majority of just 35, but it has committed a union of some 69,000 members to a policy that no one in academia should countenance. We hope that following the merger with he AUT on 1 June, good sense and democracy will prevail and this policy, which is at odds with the AUT’s policy on academic boycotts, will cease to exist."
Single page articleAUT: Press Release: AUT does not endorse this policy
At its recent annual conference NATFHE passed a motion inviting their members to consider boycotting Israeli academics under certain circumstances.
AUT does not endorse this policy and is strongly advising its members not to implement it.
In May 2005 AUT council overwhelmingly rejected an earlier decision to boycott two Israeli universities and reasserted its belief that freedom of expression, open debate and unhampered dialogue are prerequisites of academic freedom.
In addition, the meeting went on to set up a commission to investigate the whole issue of international boycotts. The report of the commission was agreed at May 2006 AUT council. It sets out a very careful, staged approach to boycotts which ensures that they are applied only in exceptional circumstances, are fully justified by the facts, and can be shown to be an effective way of furthering academic freedom and human rights.
The commission considered only the collective boycotting of institutions by the union's membership. It did not consider the boycotting of individual academics by individual union members. This tactic is fraught with difficulties and dangers and should not be followed by AUT members.
On 1 June AUT and NATFHE join to form the University and College Union (UCU). The NATFHE motion is not binding on the UCU. The AUT will argue for the UCU to adopt the report of its commission. It will not support or cooperate in any way with any attempts to implement the NATFHE motion in advance of the first UCU annual national congress in June 2007.
Single page article for printing: AJ6: Press Release: The Association of Jewish Sixthformers “dismayed” by NATFHE boycott
The Association of Jewish Sixthformers (AJ6) was dismayed to learn that NATFHE Conference passed policy to support boycotts of "Israeli educational institutions or individuals".
Most Sixth-form College teachers are NATFHE members, and AJ6 is concerned about the affects of any boycott on Jewish and Israeli Sixthformers. In particular, partnerships and exchange visits with Israeli schools and colleges may be under threat, and Jewish students who study in Israel during their Gap Years are worried that teachers may refuse to provide them with references for these programmes.
There is also concern that this motion will help legitimise the "silent boycott" of Israel that is already taking place in some schools and colleges. Some school Jewish Societies are banned from discussing Israeli politics or inviting Israeli speakers, and many are apprehensive about arranging Israel-related educational sessions.
Daniel Heller, AJ6’s National Chair (aged 17) said "NATFHE’s policy will discourage interfaith dialogue between youngsters in British schools, as well as damaging the quality of education. Israel is being unfairly targeted".
Nicola Sackwild, AJ6 National Director, said "We hope that teachers don’t use this motion as an excuse to make Jewish and Israeli Sixthformers uncomfortable or limit their freedom of expression. We support the Union of Jewish Students’ work inside NUS to oppose the boycott and build links with the Israeli student movement".
AJ6 is a peer-led Jewish student organisation founded in 1977 to educate and develop Jewish fifth and sixth formers, enabling them to shape Jewish life at school, on campus and in the wider community. AJ6's vision is of an educated and tolerant community, responsible for each other, excited and enriched by their Judaism and inspired by their Youth.
Source: AJC Press Release
Single page article for printing: AJC Press Release: American Jewish Congress Strongly Condemns NATFHE Boycott of Israel 30/5/06
30th May 2006
New York, NY, May 30, 2006 … In the wake of the vote by Britain's largest union of college and university teachers to boycott Israel, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged U.S. academics, universities and grant-making bodies to suspend contacts and cut funding to supporters of the blatantly discriminatory practice. The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) voted on May 29 to blacklist Israeli academics who do not publicly disassociate themselves from the "continuing Israel apartheid policies." ADL's call is in keeping with the long-standing leadership of the United States to counteract boycotts of Israel.
NEW YORK, May 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The American Jewish Congress condemns in the strongest terms the boycott of Israeli universities and academics by England's National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE). Simply put, this boycott is abhorrent. Boycotts have no place in academic life, which is designed to value the pursuit of truth. This campaign is rooted in the canard of Israeli "apartheid" and blind anti-Israel prejudice. AJCongress calls on academic and professional associations around the world to protest this unjust boycott.
Dr. Eugene Korn, AJCongress Director of Jewish Affairs added, "Israel has withdrawn from Gaza. It now is actively considering further withdrawals from disputed areas of the West Bank. At the same time, the Palestinians have elected a terrorist organization that rejects Israel's right to exist. The Palestinian Authority is mired in corruption, murder and chaos, and rain down Gaza rockets on Israeli towns. NATFHE's singling out Israel for boycott now demonstrates to all the ugly partisan nature of NATFHE's campaign. It is not about peace, justice or ending the suffering of Palestinians or Israelis. It is, rather, about the naked hatred of Israel and NATFHE's radical politics. The boycott does more to discredit NATFHE than to condemn Israel."
"The NATFHE boycott is outrageous. Boycotting people with unpopular political views and institutions based on national affiliation undermines freedom of speech and is intellectually bankrupt," said Neil Goldstein, Executive Director of AJCongress. "That is why the action has been condemned by other groups, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Nobel laureates. Any such boycott must be condemned, particularly now after Israel has taken unilateral steps for peace. The boycott is not about freeing the Palestinians from 'occupation,' but is an effort to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish State. Its sponsors would deny Israel's right of self- defense. Most noxious is the aid and comfort that NATFHE gives to terrorist Hamas when it congratulates it on its election in the same resolution that urges the boycott of Israel."
The American Jewish Congress is a membership association of Jewish Americans, organized to defend Jewish interests at home and abroad, through public policy advocacy, in the courts, Congress, the executive branch and state and local governments. It also works overseas with others who are similarly engaged.
Source: ADL Press Release
Single page article for printing: ADL Press Release: ADL Calls for Action Against Academic Boycotters 30/5/06
30th May 2006
New York, NY, May 30, 2006 … In the wake of the vote by Britain's largest union of college and university teachers to boycott Israel, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged U.S. academics, universities and grant-making bodies to suspend contacts and cut funding to supporters of the blatantly discriminatory practice. The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) voted on May 29 to blacklist Israeli academics who do not publicly disassociate themselves from the "continuing Israel apartheid policies." ADL's call is in keeping with the long-standing leadership of the United States to counteract boycotts of Israel.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
The NATFHE boycott resolution resembles the attempts by Arab states following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 to isolate Israel's economy from the rest of the world. Today, NATFHE seeks to isolate Israel's scholars.
Under the guise of democratic values and academic freedom, NATFHE's boycott resolution codifies an illiberal, undemocratic policy that destroys the very worth of the academy as an open forum for the honest exchange of ideas. We now have an openly declared academic boycott of Israel in operation. Those who advocate a boycott single out Israel for condemnation while ignoring massive and genuine human rights violations all over the world, including Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Sudan, to name just a few.
Those who seek to damage and discredit their Israeli colleagues with a blacklist must know that there is a price to pay. In normal circumstances, we are opposed to boycotts. But these are exceptional circumstances. Therefore, we call on the entire academic sector in the United States to cut funding, support and contact with any academic who advocates a boycott of Israel.
The union's decision came despite an international outcry over the boycott resolution. In the lead-up to the conference, NATFHE's leaders received thousands of protest letters, emails and petitions, including a petition organized by ADL which carried more than 12,000 signatures.
Source: PRESS RELEASE
Single page article for printing: Simon Wiesenthal Center: Press Release: Ban all grants to boycotters
Paris, 29 May 2006
Addressing British Secretary of State for Education, Alan Johnson, and Universities UK President Drummond Bone, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre' Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, called for their action against academic boycott.
The Centre noted its concern at "the ongoing campaign, last year at the AUT (Association of University Teachers), this year at the NATFHE (National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education) to incite to a British academic boycott of Israeli universities."
Samuels noted that "this campaign, so redolent of the Nazi 1930's 'Kaufen Nicht Bei Juden' boycott of Jewish professionals and enterprises, is not only an abuse of academic freedom.
Though led by the BRICUP (so-called "British" Committee for Universities in Palestine), the campaign is a propaganda instrument of the PNGO. This is a network of Palestinian NGO's that includes groups associated with the European Union blacklisted terrorist organization, Hamas, and those which glorify suicide terrorism, as perpetrated last July in London."
The letter added, "indeed, PNGO played a central role in the anti-Israeli programmes at SOAS (the London School of Oriental and African Studies). BRICUP is, today, due to press for the boycott motion to the last NAFTHE conference currently convened, prior to that Association's merger with the AUT."
Samuels described the Department of Education as "the funding agency for all UK universities and institutions of further education", while Universities UK is the "lobbyist for the Higher Education Bill which oversees the disbursement of billions of pounds per year to these institutions."
The letter stressed that "this boycott will not only be a disservice to the British taxpayer whose monies you administer. It will contravene British obligations under Article 13 of the EU's Treaty of Amsterdam that forbids all discrimination, including 'national'", adding that "the fact that the Israeli victims of this boycott will, in the main, be Jewish, is, ipso facto, an instrument of antisemitism. Furthermore, this campaign violates British Middle East policy by reinforcing those elements who reject any hope for a peaceful settlement."
The Centre called on both the Education Department and Universities UK "to ensure that any university, college, or other academic institution, including their departments or faculty, which subscribes to such a boycott, will be barred from your funding or grant recipients list until this collaboration with the boycott is publicly revoked."
Samuels concluded, "in the absence of such action, the Department for Education and Skills and Universities UK will be complicit by omission in this boycott and its consequences."
Single page article for printing: ADL Press Release: ADL Slams British Academic Boycott Policy 29/5/06
Moran Zelikovich, 05.29.06, 19:46
New York, NY, May 29, 2006 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today strongly condemned the resolution passed by Britain's National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) supporting a boycott of Israeli academics and academic institutions that do not declare their opposition to the policies of the State of Israel.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
The approval of the NATFHE resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academics and institutions represents a stunning setback for academic freedom.
It is profoundly unjust for academics in the only democratic country in the Middle East -- the only country where scholarship and debate are permitted to freely flourish -- to be held to an ideological test and the threat of being blacklisted because of their views. No one would expect a British or American professor to have to withstand such scrutiny of their political views. Yet, when it comes to Israel a different standard applies.
This shameful decision affecting British universities calls for a redoubling of the commitment to fight the boycott and other discriminatory actions against Israeli academics and institutions.
The NATFHE decision came despite an international outcry over the boycott resolution. In the lead-up to their annual conference, NATFHE's leaders received thousands of protest letters, emails and petitions, including a petition organized by ADL that carried more than 12,000 signatures. NATFHE is merging with AUT, and we call on the new union, the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU), to disavow the boycott.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.
Source: SPME press release
Single page article for printing:SPME Press Release: SPME Strongly Condemns the Boycott / Blacklist of Israeli Scholars 29/5/06
HARRISBURG, PA -- (05/29/2006; 1000)(EIS) -- Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, www.spme.net, strongly condemns and opposes the actions of the NATFHE British Professors Union to boycott and blacklist Israeli scholars and universities who will not publicly condemn their governments policies in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
SPME, over the past two weeks, collected just over 5000 signatures on a world wide petition, from faculty scholars, students and community members urging NATFHE, the largest British professors union, not to engage in a blacklist or boycott of Israeli scholars who do not make public statements against their government's policies.
SPME President, Edward S. Beck, called the action, "an affront to the very basic principles of academic freedom and results in confounding and hindering progress towards peace...The action was generated by those with little understanding of the issues in the region, who have separated themselves from the academic community by choosing to reinforce propaganda rather than carefully study and analyze the real facts and scholarship pertaining to the area..."
"Furthermore," Beck added, " this ill-conceived action, which provides a political litmus test for individual scholars is hauntingly reminiscent of McCarthyism which is rooted not in progressive peaceful ideals, but in bigoted, maladaptive and xenophobic attitudes, reflective of the darkest elements of any given society. It represents the commencement of a very ugly and unprecedented practice the history of academic freedom."
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, a international, grass roots community of nearly 6000 faculty , students and others seeks to promote academic integrity, academic excellence and honest debate which will result in an " Israel within safe and secure borders at peace... and recognizing the legitimate peaceful aspirations of her neighbors."
"SPME will continue to work with British and Israeli faculty and community groups as well as others from around the world to try to reverse this decision and the devastating effects of this egregious action...It simply is wrong and is a deep dark stain on the academic tradition." Beck added.
SPME seeks to raise the quality of discussion of the Middle East conflict beyond the current rhetoric and misinformation so that peaceful resolutions can be negotiated and adopted. SPME believes that a peaceful resolution must be negotiated between the parties and that actions such as those taken by NATFHE obstruct, not further peaceful aspirations.
For Further Information contact: Edward S. Beck, President, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East at 717-576-5038 or firstname.lastname@example.org SPME www.spme.net
Source: AFI Press Release
Single page for printing: AFI: Press Release: NATFHE is following a dangerous path
29th May 2006
NATFHE is following a dangerous path
The Academic Friends of Israel condemns NATFHE’s decision to go ahead with a boycott of Israeli academic Institutions and academics. It encourages a course of action which ignores the complexities on the ground and binds and pressurises members into actions which are undemocratic and McCarthyite in spirit. This only brings dishonour and sheer ridicule upon NATFHE which can be rightly called and remembered as a racist and discriminatory union.
In spite of today’s setback, The Academic Friends of Israel consider personal boycotts are wrong and will continue with our policy of exposing academics who boycott Israeli Institutions and academics. We believe that anyone who pursues such an action is breaking discrimination and equal opportunities legislation as well as University rules and their own contacts of employment.
Ronnie Fraser, director of the Academic Friends of Israel, commented:
"There are countless Palestinian and Arab collaborations with Israel in agriculture, medicine, science, and many other fields; as well as burgeoning links between academics in this country and Israel. If the sponsors of this boycotting campaign succeeded in something, it is only to undermine further progress, collaboration and peace in the Middle East and to marginalise the standing of NATFHE, it successor union, the UCU and British academia”
Source: Financial Times
Single article (for printing):
FT: Israeli academic boycott 'anti-Semitic', says Harvard president, 1/6/06
by Jon Booneand & Rebecca Knight, 1st June 2006
The decision by the country's biggest lecturers union to boycott Israeli academics has been denounced as "anti-Semitic" by the president of Harvard University.
Larry Summers attacked the decision by members of Natfhe on Monday to support a boycott of Israeli academics who fail to dissociate themselves publicly from Israel's "apartheid policies".
He said: "There is much that should be - indeed that must be - debated regarding Israeli policy. And all views can be, should be and will be expressed by those in academic life.
"However, the academic boycott resolution passed by the British professors union in the way that it singles out Israel is in my judgment anti-Semitic in both effect and in intent."
He added that he hoped the decision would be repudiated "in the strongest possible terms" by scholars around the world.
Many groups have done just that, with the Israeli-led International advisory Board for Academic Freedom announcing that it was prepared to pursue legal avenues to overturn any boycotts.
Malcolm Grant, the president and provost of University College London, joined the chorus of disapproval saying he was "deeply worried" by the motion.
"I find it extraordinary that any academic union should attack academic freedom in this way. An academic boycott for political ends is in direct conflict with the mission of a university, and betrays a misunderstanding of our function."
The boycott is only an advisory motion to highlight the issue and ceases to be policy today when Natfhe officially merges with another big academic union, the Association of University Teachers.
However, Professor Grant and others fear the new University and College Union will be "contaminated from the outset".
Concern, particularly in the US, about anti-Israeli activism among British academics was triggered last year after the AUT voted for a boycott of two institutions in Israel, one of which was accused of illegal construction on Palestinian land.
Campaigners this week said that it was inconceivable the issue would not re-emerge and be voted on at UCU.
Professor Steven Rose, a distinguished neurobiologist at the Open University and a leading light in the boycott campaign, said Mr Summers's remarks were "grotesque".
"There is nothing anti-Semitic about putting pressure on Israeli institutors and their academic staff to fight against the illegal and anti-human-rights policies of the Israeli state.
"When Israeli academic institutions and staff protest for the academic freedom of their academic colleagues in Palestine then I will feel more sympathetic to them."
Source: Miami Herald
Single article (for printing):
Miami Herald: Rooting for anyone but England, 2/6/06
by Uri Dromi
FOCUS ON ISRAEL
JERUSALEM -- With the soccer World Cup games about to begin next week, the question of which team you are going to support becomes crucial. For an American, it's simple: You support the American team, and if you're Hispanic, you get a bonus, because you can also enjoy Argentina, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Ecuador playing against the rest of the world -- not to mention favorite Brazil.
However, for fans whose country didn't qualify, like Israel, it's not so easy. Of course, people who have immigrated from Argentina or the Ukraine, and there are many of those in Israel, the question is settled. But what about the rest? Should we support Holland, because Dutchmen saved some Jews during the Holocaust? Or Ivory Coast, to stand by the underdog? Or Italy, because their players all look like Leonardo Di Caprio? Tough decision.
We know, though, which team all Israelis are going to hate: Iran. You watch these people chasing the ball and you pray that they stumble, thinking, of course, about a different game, the one their scientists and politicians are playing back home, aimed at destroying Israel. The day will come when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his lieutenants will be coerced to drop their deadly nuclear scheme. In the meantime, let their soccer players suffer a humiliating defeat every time they show up in the stadium.
Recently, however, another team has made itself a candidate to be the most disliked by Israelis: England. The reason? The British National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education has just adopted a resolution calling for a boycott on Israeli universities, because of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.
That such a resolution should be adopted when Israel has shown its will to stop ruling the Palestinians -- first by pulling out of Gaza and then by indicating its intention for more withdrawals in the West Bank -- is a testimony to the hypocrisy of these so-called educators.
But is this just a criticism of Israel's policies? Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman, author of Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism, believes that there is more. Writing in the International Herald Tribune in April 2005, when the British organization initiated this sinister resolution, he wrote, ``The call to boycott Israeli academic institutions has hundreds of supporters in Europe, nourished by a growing climate of anti-Zionism that is often indistinguishable from anti-Semitism.''
Alexander Yacobson, a columnist in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, concurs. Last week he wrote that coalition forces in Iraq kill civilians ''much more easily'' than Israeli troops in the occupied territories, but that Israeli universities were nevertheless singled out for sanction. ''There is no escaping the conclusion that beyond any legitimate political criticism, the emotional stance of Europe toward Israel is influenced -- and not only on the margins -- by the deep and ancient European obsession and pathology regarding the Jewish nation,'' he wrote.
Hotbeds of free thinking
Indeed, I would have liked to see those Brits, who uphold human rights so much, pass a resolution boycotting Iran because of its president's threats to eliminate Israel and for denying the Holocaust. But that, of course, is asking too much.
Also, there is something totalitarian and McCarthyite in this British approach. Obviously trying to recycle the boycott that worked against South Africa, the British boycotters ignore the fact that unlike in South Africa, where the universities were part and parcel of the apartheid system, the universities in Israel are hotbeds of free thinking and many of their faculty and students are critical of the government's policies. By indiscriminately boycotting the Israeli universities, the British educators will only strengthen those in Israel, mainly from the right, who have always said, ``Why bother, the world is against us anyway.''
Many Israeli academicians are trying to cooperate with their Palestinian colleagues, believing that big politics aside, people of goodwill and capabilities from both sides should work together for a better future for their peoples. By their senseless and vicious motion, the British educators will only undermine such efforts.
That's it. When David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and the other English players walk into the stadium, I'll pray for their defeat, even by Iran. Well, maybe that's too harsh. Let Saudi Arabia beat them.
Uri Dromi is director of International Outreach at the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem.
Source: Ynet News
Single article (for printing): Ynet News: Wiesenthal Center: UK boycott redolent of Nazi campaign 30/5/06
30th May 2006
Jewish human rights organization sends letter to British Education Department saying boycotting of Israeli universities ‘a propaganda instrument of the PNGO - a network of Palestinian NGOs that includes groups associated with the European Union blacklisted terrorist organization Hamas, and those which glorify suicide terrorism’
Addressing British Secretary of State for Education, Alan Johnson, and Universities UK President Drummond Bone, the Simon Wiesenthal Centers Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, called for their action against the British academic boycott of Israeli universities.
“The ongoing campaign, last year at the Association of University Teachers (AUT) and this year at the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) to incite to a British academic boycott of Israeli universities - is redolent of the Nazi 1930's 'Kaufen Nicht Bei Juden' boycott of Jewish professionals and enterprises,” Samuels said in a letter to the British officials.
'An instrument of anti-Semitism'
“Though led by the so-called ‘British Committee for Universities in Palestine’, the campaign is a propaganda instrument of the PNGO - a network of Palestinian NGOs that includes groups associated with the European Union blacklisted terrorist organization Hamas, and those which glorify suicide terrorism, as perpetrated last July in London."
The letter stressed that "this boycott will not only be a disservice to the British taxpayer whose monies you administer. It will
contravene British obligations under Article 13 of the EU's Treaty of Amsterdam that forbids all discrimination,” adding that "the fact that the Israeli victims of this boycott will, in the main, be Jewish, is, ipso facto, an instrument of anti-Semitism. Furthermore, this campaign violates British Middle East policy by reinforcing those elements that reject any hope for a peaceful settlement."
The Center called on both the Education Department and Universities UK "to ensure that any university, college, or other academic institution, including their departments or faculty, which subscribes to such a boycott, will be barred from your funding or grant recipients list until this collaboration with the boycott is publicly revoked."
Source: Jerusalem Post
Single article (for printing): UK 'regrets' NATFHE boycott decision, Talya Halkin (Updated 30/5/06)
By Talya Halkin, 28/5/06, Updated 30/5/06
A motion to boycott Israeli academics, which was approved on Monday by a vote of members of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, Britain's largest academic trade union, has provoked a wave of condemnations from Israeli and British officials and from senior academics and universities in Israel and abroad.
"Around the world this proposal has been rejected as an act of blatant discrimination," said Israel's Ambassador to the UK, Zvi Hefetz. "As a means of promoting dialogue and coexistence in the Middle East, an academic boycott of Israel is counterproductive in the extreme."
Following the vote, the union's official statement declared that "[The] Conference notes [the] continuing Israeli apartheid policies, including [the] construction of the exclusion wall, and discriminatory educational practices.
The call to consider a boycott of Israeli academics was passed with 106 votes in favor, 71 votes against and 21 abstentions.
"By pursuing such a policy, NATFHE will isolate its members and their students rather than isolating Israeli academics, who are [in] the forefront of international cooperation on academic study and research, including with Palestinian universities and institutions elsewhere in the Arab world," Hefetz added.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Lord Triesman also expressed regret at the boycott vote. "We believe that such academic boycotts are counterproductive and retrograde. Far more can be obtained through dialogue and academic cooperation," he said.
The boycott motion approved by NATFHE will only be effective for three days due to a merger between NATFHE and the Association of University Teachers, a smaller union, which is scheduled to take place on June 1. NATFHE has indicated that the new body will not be bound by the decision.
Last year the AUT voted to boycott Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities, charging them with complicity in Israel's "suppression of the Palestinians." The council of the association reversed the decision after objections by leading scholars and academic organizations.
Following NATFHE's vote on Monday, University of Haifa President Aaron Ben-Ze'ev said the university strongly condemned the boycott decision.
"Any attempt to connect politics and academic research is pure McCarthyism," Ben-Ze'ev said. "The university will continue working in collaboration with its colleagues in Israel, Britain and elsewhere, in order to protect the principle of academic freedom," he said.
Professor Gerald Steinberg, director of the Interdisciplinary Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation and a member of the IAB executive committee, added that "Such political actions ... destroy the academic process, since we will no longer be able to trust the objectivity and professional detachment of academics who are involved in 'silent boycotts,' the journals they edit, and the peer review processes in which they participate."
"None of the developments in our region interest these people behind the boycott," said Professor Wistrich, an expert on anti-Semitism at Hebrew University. "This is a real obsession."
Education Minister Yuli Tamir also expressed strong criticism of the boycott motion, as did Zevulun Orlev, chair of the Knesset's Science and Technology Committee.
The Academic Friends of Israel in Britain also released a statement condemning the boycott.
"This only brings dishonor and sheer ridicule upon NATFHE which can be rightly called and remembered as a racist and discriminatory union," the statement said. The organization said it would continue its policy of exposing academics who boycott Israeli institutions and academics, and added that it believed anyone who pursues such an action is guilty of breaking discrimination and equal opportunities laws as well as university rules and their own contracts of employment.
"There are countless Palestinian and Arab collaborations with Israel in agriculture, medicine, science and many other fields, as well as burgeoning links between academics in this country and Israel," said Ronnie Fraser, director of the Academic Friends of Israel. "If the sponsors of this boycotting campaign succeeded in something, it is only to undermine further progress, collaboration and peace in the Middle East and to marginalize the standing of NATFHE, its successor union, the UCU and British academia."
The International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom (IAB) at Bar-Ilan University also expressed its deep dissatisfaction with the boycott decision.
IAB Chairman Yosef Yeshurun, provost of Bar-Ilan University, added that while pro-boycott activists were a marginal group, the majority of union members were not necessarily aware of the intricacies of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the range of political opinions on Israeli campuses, and could be personally influenced by the boycott decision in the long-term. While senior Israeli scientists would not be hurt by such decisions, he said, the results could be detrimental to young scholars.
Yeshurun also said that the IAB would budget funds for collaboration with English academics in order to encourage scientists to work against the boycott.
Source: Israel National News
Single article (for printing): INN: Sharp Reactions to UK Teacher Vote to Boycott Israel Academia 29/5/06
23:05 May 29, '06 / 2 Sivan 5766
by Hana Levi Julian
The 69,000-member National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) voted to boycott Israeli academic professionals and institutions of higher learning unless they “dissociate themselves” from Israel’s “apartheid policy” in Judea and Samaria.
The reactions to the decision were swift.
The British government at once released a statement condemning the move In an effort to contain the damage. A statement by Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Lord Triesman, the UK expressed its regrets and called the decision “counterproductive and retrograde”. Triesman was careful, however, to add, “We also recognize the independence of the NATFHE”.
Triesman served as deputy general secretary of the union in 1984. He also served as general secretary for the Association of University Teachers (AUT) trade union from 1993 to 2001.
Israel Education Minister Yuli Tamir slammed the NATFHE on the vote. She had already spoken last week with the British minister for higher education and asked him to step in to prevent the boycott. “The decision to boycott academic institutions is a move worthy of condemnation and revulsion,” she said. “Those who are implementing this boycott are harming academia’s freedom and turning it into a tool for political forces.”
In an appeal to the international community, NRP Knesset member Zevulun Orlev wrote to parliament members in Britain, France and Germany to demand they join with Israel in condemning the action. Orlev, chairman of the Knesset Science Committee, told his European counterparts, “This is a test of the free world. We expect you to condemn this anti-Semitic and racist decision and to help institutions of higher education in your countries tighten their cooperation with science, technology and higher education institutes in Israel.”
Professor Yehezkiel Teler, Vice Chairman of the Higher Education Council called the decision an echo of the Nazi boycott prior to World War II. “Now Britain is politicizing academia, in opposition to every academic value accepted in the world,” he said. “This will come back on them like a boomerang,” he predicted.
Haifa University, represented by its president, Aharon Ben Ze’ev also slammed the decision as a political move unbefitting an academic organization. “Any attempt to create ties between politics and academic research is simply McCarthyism,” he said.
Professor Yosef Yeshurun, the rector at Bar Ilan University, called the decision “negative”. He added that it “destroys bridges instead of building them”.
Israeli and British student groups organized campaigns against the boycott. Itay Shonshein, the head of Israel’s National Student Union, called on the British National Union of Students to protest as well.
“Students in Israel who serve in the IDF are convinced that the picture drawn by the lecturers is one-sided and unfair,” said Shonshein. He described the union’s decision as “inciting and racist”.
The head of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League, Abe Foxman also joined the condemnations. “The approval of the NATFHE resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academics and institutions represents a stunning setback for academic freedom,” he said.
There were actually two motions which were voted on, both making reference to political issues involving relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The first called upon the NATFHE membership to help aid, protect and support PA institutions and universities, and to maintain ties with the PA. The first vote also accused Britain of “scandalous incitement” against Hamas, according to the Ynet news service report.
The second motion called for the boycott against “Israel’s persistent apartheid policy”. The new security fence was cited as part of the “apartheid policy”. In addition, the union leveled accusations of discriminatory practices in the education system.
Both motions were approved in a vote of 106 to 71 with 21 abstentions. In addition to boycotting Israeli institutions and academic professionals, union members will also no longer submit articles to Israeli research journals.
Three days before the vote, the British newspaper The Guardian printed a letter signed by more than 600 professors and other academics, urging the union to drop the motion. A petition with more than 4,700 signatures was also sent to NATFHE president John Wilkin by the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East organization, based in the U.S.
The pressure intensified the union’s secretary general, Paul Mackney's, determination to push the motion through. “I have received literally thousands of emails seeking to ‘educate’ me on the foolishness of our stance in support of the rights of Palestinians,” he said on Saturday.
“Many emails berate threats to deny academic freedom for Israeli professors but fail to mention that academic freedom in Palestine is a hollow joke,” he said. He added that more PA Arabs than Israelis have been killed since the beginning of the current intifada in September 2000, that 185 PA schools have been shelled or fired at, as opposed to ‘one Israeli school’, and that the unemployment rate is higher among PA Arabs.
“I will not be bullied into silence,” he said. Mackney denied that the boycott was an expression of anti-semitism. “Criticizing the Israeli government does not make me anti-Semitic, any more than criticizing Bush or Blair makes me anti-Anglo-Saxon,” he added.
The union members were also urged to condemn the freeze on funds to the PA initiated by the European Union and the United States after terror organization Hamas took over the government. A number of Western nations decided to cut off funding to the Hamas-led PA government until it complies with Quartet demands to formally recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce terrorism and uphold agreements negotiated by the previous PA government.
Union spokesman Trevor Phillips said the motions were not a call to boycott Israel, but rather to recommend to its membership that each institution and academic professional consider taking action privately.
According to a report by Ynet, the AUT is expected to merge with the NATFHE in the near future, thereby renewing the boycott for the AUT as well.
Source: The Guardian
Single article (for printing): Guardian: Lecturers back boycott of Israeli academics 30/5/06
By Benjamin Joffe-Walt, Tuesday May 30, 2006
Britain's largest lecturers' union yesterday voted in favour of a boycott of Israeli lecturers and academic institutions who do not publicly dissociate themselves from Israel's "apartheid policies".
Delegates at the annual conference of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (Natfhe) in Blackpool narrowly backed the proposal, despite mounting international pressure from those opposed to a boycott, including a petition from more than 5,000 academics and a plea from the Israeli government. The decision was greeted with disappointment and anger by anti-boycott campaigners last night, but Palestinian groups issued declarations of support.
Presented on the final day of the Natfhe conference, the motion criticised "Israeli apartheid policies, including construction of the exclusion wall, and discriminatory educational practices" and invited members to "consider the appropriateness of a boycott of those that do not publicly dissociate themselves from such policies".
After failed efforts to prevent the debate, speakers outlined the litany of difficulties experienced by Palestinian students and lecturers living under occupation, including the number of Palestinian schools shelled by the Israeli army.
"The majority of Israeli academics are either complicit or acquiescent in their government's policies in the occupied territories," said Tom Hickey, a philosophy lecturer from the University of Brighton, member of the union's national executive committee and proposer of the motion. "Turning a blind eye to what an Israeli colleague thinks about the actions of their government is a culpable blindness."
Delegate John Morgan, who seconded the motion, said there was no academic freedom for Palestinians.
But the union's general secretary, Paul Mackney, spoke against the motion: "Most of us are very angry about the occupation of Palestine," he said, "but this isn't the motion and this isn't the way. Any motion to boycott requires the highest level of legitimacy. As far as I can see no more than a couple of branches have discussed this motion. You cannot build a boycott on conference rhetoric."
Natfhe delegate Ronnie Fraser, chair of Academic Friends of Israel, the primary opponents of the motion on the conference floor, said he was "not happy at all", adding that the vote brought "dishonour and sheer ridicule" upon the union.
Last year the Association of University Teachers (AUT) elected to impose an academic boycott on two Israeli universities. But after an international outcry and a revolt by members it reversed the decision.
Yesterday's boycott resolution will have an official shelf life of less than three days, as on Thursday the two unions will merge, forming the world's largest higher education union with more than 110,000 members. The resolution will only be advisory to the new union. But proponents say the Natfhe decision is important and represents a step change in the wider boycott campaign against Israel.
Aharon Ben-Ze'ev of Haifa university told the Guardian he was "very disappointed", adding: "This ... will only serve to impede the peace process and strengthen extremism on both sides. I never say to British colleagues if you don't subscribe to my beliefs I will boycott you."
David Hirsh, an AUT member, added: "It may not have anti-semitic motivations, but if you organise an academic boycott of Israeli Jewish academics but no one else in the world, that is an anti-semitic policy. What's Natfhe going to do? Set up a committee before which Israeli academics will be hauled?"
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel sent its support, saying British academics had "proved once again that they are up to the challenge of meeting injustice".
Stephen Rose of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, who began the boycott campaign with a letter to the Guardian in 2002, said he was delighted, adding: "We recognise that this has not been an easy decision faced with the extreme pressure put upon the union by outside forces." He said the vote was "a historic step forward" in "helping persuade our Israeli academic colleagues that it is time to cease silent complicity with the illegal acts of the Israeli state".
But he warned that this was likely to be the start rather than the end of the debate. "I expect those people who oppose it to mobilise on UK campuses and around the world in the weeks ahead."
The first rumblings of an academic boycott surfaced in 2002 when Stephen Rose, professor of biology at the Open University, wrote to the Guardian arguing for a moratorium on European funding of Israeli research. The campaign gathered pace at last year's AUT conference in Eastbourne where delegates voted to boycott Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities because of their alleged complicity in the Israeli government's policies. The move provoked a storm of international protest and a month later the boycott was overturned at a special conference.
Source: Ynet News
Single article (for printing): Ynet: Britain slams Israel academic boycott 29/5/06
Moran Zelikovich, 05.29.06, 19:46
Foreign Office minister condemns UK lecturers' union decision to boycott Israeli lecturers, saying 'we believe such academic boycotts are counterproductive, retrograde'; MK Orlev: Decision anti-Semitic, racist
The decision by a UK teachers' union to encourage the boycott of Israeli academic institutions which do not renounce "apartheid policies" has sparked reaction in Israel and abroad.
The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) voted in favor of the boycott on Monday.
British Foreign Office Minister Lord Triesman said his office regrets the decision.
"We regret today's decision by the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education to vote in favor of boycotting Israeli academics and institutions," Lord Triesman said in a statement.
The statement continued: "We believe that such academic boycotts are counterproductive and retrograde. Far more can be obtained through dialogue and academic cooperation."
Education Minister Yuli Tamir said the decision is "revulsive" and should be condemned.
"He who issues the boycott harms academic freedom and turns it into a tool for political players," she said in a statement.
The chairman of the Knesset Committee for Science and Technology, MK Zevulun Orlev, asked his British counterpart to condemn the decision.
"We expect the British to decry the anti-Semitic and racist decision to encourage institutions for higher education to tighten cooperation with Israeli academic institutions," Orlev wrote in a letter addressed to members of the British parliament.
'Same racism that apartheid regime exercised'
Boaz Toporovsky, head of the Tel Aviv University Student Union said the decision contravenes freedom of expression, a pillar of academic life.
"In the enlightened and western world, freedom of expression is of utmost importance, especially in academia," he said.
"What they are doing to us is the same racism that the apartheid regime exercised against blacks in South Africa and not otherwise as we are being accused," he added.
Haifa University on Monday rejected "with disgust" the UK lecturers' union decision.
"Any attempt to mix politics with academic research is McCarthyism," President Prof. Aaron Ben-Ze’ev.
The Israeli Embassy in London said it is encouraged by messages of condemnation received from around the world.
"This proposal has been rejected around the world, which sees in it manifest discrimination," a statement read.
The Academic Friends of Israel, a UK body set up to resist the boycott and fight anti-Semitism at UK educational institutions, described the approval of the boycott as "a dangerous path."
Hagit Klaiman, Roee Nahmias and Ahiya Raved contributed to the report
Source: Ynet News
Single article (for printing): Ynet: UK educators shun Israeli academics 29/5/06
Hagit Klaiman, Published: 29 May 2006
One of Britain’s biggest teachers’ unions votes to shun Israeli academic institutions that don't renounce 'apartheid policies'
LONDON - Britain's National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) Monday approved an academic boycott on Israeli higher education institutions that do not condemn Israel’s “apartheid policy.” NAFTHE, which with a membership of 67,000 educators is one of the UK’s largest teachers' unions, voted 106 to 71, with 21 abstentions, in favor of the boycott during a Blackpool convention.
The move to boycott Israeli academics reopened a front which formerly involved a different British teachers’ association, the Association of University Teachers (AUT), which advanced a motion in April of last year to shun Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities. Responding to the urgings of Palestinian organizations, AUT declared the boycott and decided to exclude the two institutions from conventions and research projects.
A month later following a wide Israeli lobbyist campaign, the union voted to cancel the boycott. Soon after Monday’s Blackpool summit, the two teachers’ organizations are expected to unite into one association.
At the Blackpool summit, two motions were put to vote. The first called to help aid, protect and support Palestinian institutions and universities in light of the continuing attacks by the Israeli government, and to maintain ties with the Palestinian government to underscore this support. This motion also accuses Britain of scandalous incitement against Hamas.
The second motion called to renew last year’s boycott, and mentions “Israel’s persistent apartheid policy,” which includes the construction of the security fence and other discriminatory practices in the education system.
'Consider your conduct'
The motion invites members of the organization to consider their conduct to promise equality and non-discrimination in academic ties with Israeli academic institutions, and to way shunning those that don’t publicly distance themselves from such a country.
Natphe spokesman Trevor Phillips told Ynet that the organization did not take a decision to boycott Israel, but to recommend to its members to take such a decision on a personal basis. It seems that the organization decided to soften the formulation of the boycott to appear as if it is it not forcing its members to carry it out, but only calling on it to take a personal decision according to their conscience.
Phillips added that he does not believe he is a member of a racist organization, and that it was in insult to think this "only because the organization was criticizing Israeli government policy."
Meanwhile, union members heard an urgent recommendation to condemn a decision by the EU and the US to end the flow of funds to Palestinian institutions following the rise of Hamas to power, and called on the restrictions to end.
Vice Chairman of the Higher Education Council, Professor Yehezkiel Teler, said that the decision by a British lecturers' union to boycott Israeli academic institutions in Israel was reminiscent of the boycott in Nazi Germany.
"Now Britain is politicizing academia, in opposition to every academic value accepted in the world. This will come back on them like a boomerang. They are isolating themselves and those who boycott will in the end by boycotted. It is a shame that England is leading this anti-democratic and anti-academic step," said Teler.
British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Lord Triesman said in response: "We regret today's decision by the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education to vote in favour of boycotting Israeli academics and institutions."
"The British Government has a record of supporting academic freedom for academics throughout the world. We also recognise the independence of NATFHE. We believe that such academic boycotts are counterproductive and retrograde. Far more can be obtained through dialogue and academic cooperation," the minister said in a statement.
Source: The Associated Press
Single article (for printing): AP: British academics' union votes to boycott Israeli academics 29/5/06
Members of Britain's largest college teachers' union on Monday voted to boycott Israeli academics over what members termed "apartheid" policies and discriminatory practices toward Palestinians.
The 69,000-member National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) passed the motion at its annual conference in the northern English city of Blackpool. Two parts of the proposal passed with a show of hands, while a third went to a vote.
But union spokesman Trevor Phillips said the motion will only act as an advisory policy and will not necessarily be adopted, as the union is to merge this week with the Association of University Teachers, or AUT, to become the University and College Union with more than 100,000 members.
Ronnie Fraser, director of the Academic Friends of Israel, said his group would continue fighting the boycott and called the union's move "racist." "If the sponsors of this boycotting campaign succeeded in something, it is only to undermine further progress, collaboration and peace in the Middle East and to marginalize the standing of NATFHE," Fraser said.
The third section of the motion called on union members to consider if they should refuse to cooperate with Israeli academics or Israeli research journals that do not "disassociate themselves" from the policies described in the motion.
It said members had a responsibility to ensure "equity and nondiscrimination" in Israeli education institutions and was passed with 106 members in favor, 71 against and 21 abstentions, Phillips said.
The first two parts of the boycott motion noted Israel's "apartheid practices" toward Palestinians, including the construction of a wall between Israel and the West Bank, and called for more meetings in secondary schools and universities on the subject.
Delegates also said a potential humanitarian disaster could be caused by withholding EU and U.S. aid since Hamas won the Palestinian election in January.
The proposal reopened debate sparked last year, when the 40,000-member AUT voted to boycott Israel's Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities for actions which it said undermined Palestinian rights and academic freedom.
That union said it targeted Bar-Ilan University for its links to the College of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. It accused Haifa University of threatening to fire an Israeli political science lecturer for supporting a student's research into allegations of killings by Israeli troops.
The universities said many elements of the allegations were false, and the move was condemned by the Israeli and British governments. The decision was overturned after a month. Some British academics continue to push for ties to be cut.
Professor Richard Seaford, a classicist at Exeter University, told the British Broadcasting Corp. this week that he and other academics were already engaged in an informal boycott, refusing to submit work to Israeli journals or collaborate with Israeli academics.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science urged the union to withdraw the motion, calling it "antithetical to the positive role of free scientific inquiry in improving the lives of all citizens of the world, and in promoting cooperation among nations, despite political differences."
Source: Jon Pike on Comment is Free
Single post (for printing)Jon Pike - A travesty of democracy, 1/6/06
1st June 2006
Natfhe's move to boycott Israeli academics was a gesture forced through by a tiny, SWP-organised minority.
Yes, it's another piece about the Natfhe boycott. But no, I'm not going to rehash the arguments. My intention is to understand what happened at Natfhe conference and to try to explain it to those many people who will be surprised by this decision. I also have a couple of questions commenters can answer.
First, a bit of history. The AUT, my union, voted by a very narrow margin (of four votes) to boycott two Israeli universities, and then, overwhelmingly, to overturn that boycott. What happened between these two votes to make the AUT change its mind? Was it "Zionist pressure"? Was it "slanderous emails"? That's what Steven Rose says. But there is another, more straightforward explanation. Judge for yourself.
At the following universities, AUT branches had meetings of the membership about the boycott between the two meetings of council: Bath, Bristol, Keele, Imperial, Oxford, Warwick, Cambridge, Birmingham, the LSE, Manchester, King's College London, University College London, the Open University, Goldsmiths, London, Leeds, York, Lancaster and Kingston.
The Scottish council of the AUT consulted its branches, debated the matter, supported positive links and opposed a boycott. Thousands of AUT members turned out and voted. Here are three snapshots.
At University College London, where the branch executive is dominated by supporters of the boycott, the boycott resolutions were voted down by 10 to one, with over 150 members at the meeting. At a big meeting at the Open University, I debated with Steven Rose. The resolution I supported was passed, and Steven's was defeated. We wanted to ensure that delegates opposed the boycotts and passed a mandating resolution, (though Steven went on to ignore that).
At Birmingham, Sue Blackwell's new call, with new "evidence" for a boycott of Haifa was defeated. At branches up and down the country, on all the big campuses, there were debates and meetings. Not a single branch supported the specific boycotts of Haifa and Bar-Ilan; one or two thought boycotting was not wrong in principle; one or two thought there should be action taken against Ariel College, which is actually in the occupied West Bank. But there was no majority in any branch for the sort of boycott proposed by Natfhe or for the boycotts of Bar-Ilan and Haifa.
Contrast Natfhe. The Natfhe boycott simply has not been discussed by the members. At Natfhe's conference, the strongly pro-Palestine general secretary opposed the boycott resolution for precisely this reason. He asked for a show of hands of those branches that had discussed the matter. Two hands went up.
We know that there was some discussion at Middlesex, and the vote went (as far as I'm concerned) the wrong way: 10 to six. That's 16 members of Natfhe. There was a pro-boycott vote at one of the three campuses at UEL, where about a dozen members voted. So the UEL delegate might have a defence. There may have been a vote at Brighton, but lots of the staff there know nothing about it, and are bemused at the shooting to national fame of their Natfhe rep, Tom Hickey, And that's it: perhaps 30 members.
So this is what happened. A bunch of the far left, organised by the SWP but with no mandate on the matter from their members, pushed though a gesture resolution. The SWP is in a strong position in Natfhe because of its arcane regional structure and because ideological zealotry counts for a lot when the time of academics and teachers is so squeezed. The story will be familiar to anyone who has participated on the left in organisations where small numbers of committed activists can dominate and can get way out of line from the views of the membership.
That's why participative local branch meetings are so important.
But on the boycott issue, these simply didn't take place. The unrepresentative delegates have damaged Natfhe, not just because of the politics of the boycott but by the way in which they pushed it through, without discussion by the members. Who thinks this? Among others, the general secretary of Natfhe himself.
Remember this: thousands of AUT members had the chance to take a vote last year; thousands took that opportunity. This year, apart from the delegates, perhaps fewer than 50 Natfhe members voted on the boycott.
If I'm wrong, Natfhe delegates (Coventrian, AndreBreton, anyone else) please let me know; if you're a member of Natfhe, let me know whether you were consulted. Delegates, let me know, in the comments, how you consulted with members before voting to commit them to this policy. Let's see if we can get past the 150 mark. Why150? Well, let's see whether Natfhe managed to consult more members than turned up to a single branch the AUT - at University College London. So far, we are certain about 16, , at Middlesex.
So just give me the name of the branch, the numbers voting and when the vote took place. You can do this anonymously. Perhaps I know nothing and I'll be deluged with outraged citations of big meetings, membership votes and so on. But perhaps you'll patiently explain to me that "that's not how democracy works in Natfhe". Perhaps there's some strange, metaphysical form of representation that can dispense with actually asking the members of your union what they think. OK, explain away.
But if I'm right, then it's clear what we have here: contempt for the members and a travesty of democracy.
Commentary by Andre Oboler, ZOTW Special
Single post (for printing)David Hirsh - Say no to an eye for an eye (with ZOTW commentary) 2/6/05
While I feel this article is a valuable contribution to the debate, I must say that I disagree with it. While David's position and actions are very constructive from a left perspective. I also think the ADL's actions are constructive from a non UK (and non left) perspective. They were not the only ones to propose such a boycott of the boycotters, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has done the same (and possibly first!).
While this might not be a valid leftist position, not everyone is a leftist. It takes all sorts of action for all sorts of people. For a US academic, refusing to review a paper by Richard Seaford   might be decent and positive action, though you may morally object.
Boycotting an academic for discrimination in their academic duties and role within the academic community may for many be morally justified, where as a boycott based on nationality and political beliefs never is. The difference is that for such a boycott to be legitimate only academics who have ACTUALLY boycotted other academics would qualify. This is not thought police (as the boycott's list is) but rather repercussion for actions within academia which are (for legitimate reasons related to academia) unacceptable to the community.
Source: David Hirsh on Comment is Free
2nd June 2006
Single post (for printing)David Hirsh - Say no to an eye for an eye (with ZOTW commentary) 2/6/05
We need to defeat the arguments for an 'academic intifada', not behave as if the brownshirts have taken over British universities.
My daughter is five and she knows what a Likudnik is. Well, kind of. If I catch her kicking her little brother, and I tell her she is not allowed to hit people, she will say: "Well, he started it." And my answer to that will be: "We're not Likudniks, you know."
Fortunately, she is still (just about) young enough not to be embarrassed by her Dad's lame and repetitive jokes.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is not five, but it does seem to be inspired by Likud's traditional strategy of taking revenge: you hit us, we'll hit you back harder; you hit us again, we'll hit you back again, harder.
ADL's response to the "academic intifada" is like Likud's response to the real intifada. Abraham Foxman, ADL's national director, said:: "We call on the entire academic sector in the United States to cut funding, support and contact with any academic who advocates a boycott of Israel."
The intifada is real and serious. It is a misconceived, politically counter-productive and desperate response to the violence of the Israeli occupation; and the violence of the Israeli occupation is a misconceived, politically counter-productive and desperate response to the violence of the intifada.
The "academic intifada" is an infantile parody of the real thing, and now the ADL has responded with a parody of the Likud tit-for-tat strategy.
The ADL's revenge comes complete with a new McCarthyite threat to academic and intellectual freedom. It is true that Israel-boycotters who take discriminatory action should be subjected to the normal disciplinary procedures that follow acts of unfair discrimination in universities. the But ADL is trying to organise a campaign to exclude academics on the basis of their beliefs, not their actions.
The ADL proudly claims to be "the world's leading organisation fighting anti-semitism through programmes and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry" But in its response to the Natfhe decision, it shows itself fundamentally to misunderstand the way contemporary anti-semitism on the left operates. This programme will do nothing to counteract hatred, prejudice or bigotry.
The ADL is right that the kind of boycott approved by Natfhe is in its effect, antisemitic. But it is quite wrong if it believes that people who "advocate" such a boycott are motivated by anti-semitism or understand the ways in which their advocacy licenses and facilitates the emergence of anti-semitic discourses and movements.
We need to win arguments, not to denounce and punish people for the crime of anti-semitism. We need to win the argument against the academic boycott campaign within the University and College Union (UCU) so that we can defeat it at the conference in June 2007. I am confident that this is possible. And we need to win wider arguments on the left and in academic and political discourse more generally about the contemporary version of what Bebel called the "socialism of fools", which is the "anti-imperialism of idiots".
There is a small clique of hard-core boycotters who cannot be won over. But the reason that they win votes at conferences is that there is a significant periphery that is seduced by its case. There are many people who are angered by Israel's treatment of Palestinians who accept on face value the dishonest analogy between Israel and South Africa. We need to show why "Zionism" is not apartheid; we need to persuade people that a boycott would do nothing to help end the occupation; we need to make people understand how the singling out of Israel and the demonising rhetoric of "anti-Zionism" leads towards anti-semitism.
The ADL shows little sign of understanding how to win this battle, either on the level of votes or on the level of discourse. It ludicrously claims the credit for reversing last year's boycott decision in the AUT. ("Only after ADL supporters and others around the globe expressed their outrage was a re-vote held and the boycott rescinded.") This extravagant claim mirrors the boycotters' allegation that the policy was overturned not by AUT members but by the global Zionist lobby. The ADL is arguing for this new boycott at a moment when the AUT has made it clear that it will oppose the boycott within the UCU. We need to win a vote next June, not behave as though the brownshirts have come to power in British universities.
And the ADL shows no understanding of the bigger political and ideological arguments that need to be won against a worldview that divides the planet into camps and waves the national flags of those in the "anti-imperialist" camp. There is a widespread left common sense developing that subordinates struggles for human rights, democracy, the rule of law, women's rights, lesbian and gay rights and rights for minorities to the global struggle against US led "imperialism". And in this worldview, Israel is positioned, for some, at the very vanguard of all that is evil in the world. That is where contemporary left ambivalence to anti-semitism comes from.
The ADL simply waves the Israeli flag in response to those on the left who wave the Palestinian flag, and it retaliates in kind with a McCarthyite boycott. The hard-core boycotters would like nothing better than to be targeted by what they will characterise as the world Zionist conspiracy: for them, it will be a badge of honour. And many people who are seduced by some of what they say will be further persuaded by this apparent confirmation.
The reason that left anti-semitism is such a crucially pivotal issue for our times is that only a consistent anti-racist politics can see off anti-semitism. If the left does not learn how to fight anti-semitism, then Jews are in big trouble because only an egalitarian and inclusive politics can defeat racism.
To defeat the boycott and to challenge the politics behind the boycott we need to fight for a way of thinking that arms people in Palestine and people in Israel who are fighting for peace and a better future. And globally, we need to fight for a way of thinking that goes inside national, ethnic and religious divisions and arms those fighting for their human, democratic, legal and sexual rights - as well as for their right not to live in poverty.
Communal organizations such as the ADL do not have to be unsophisticated nationalist flag-wavers. Jewish communities in the US have a strong, rich tradition of supporting the left and of reaching out to other communities - classically in the civil rights movement but also in the Jewish labour movement. The ADL itself has been involved in the campaign to reach out to the communities in Darfur that are, at this moment, facing genocide.
American Jews should organise against anti-semitism, but they should do it with a more intelligent and more egalitarian politics than the one that ADL has resorted to this week. This does not mean timidity. It is a strength, not a weakness, of the ADL that it responds loudly and militantly to anti-semitism. But what you say is as important as how you say it.
Respect is at the forefront of trying politically to organise Muslim communities in the UK. It is doing this spectacularly badly, but with some limited organisational success. It is dangerous because it appeals to every inward-looking communal prejudice that it thinks will garner support.
Muslim communities in the UK need to organise against Islamophobia, but they need to do so on a consistently anti-racist and egalitarian basis, not by fostering a way of thinking that blames Israel and "the Zionists" for the anti-Muslim racism that Bengalis endure daily in Bethnal Green - in the very same streets in Bethnal Green where the Jews faced off the British Union of Fascists in an alliance with the British left in the late 1930s.
Communal self-defence does not have to scapegoat others, it does not have to pander to bigotry, it does not have to wrap itself in national flags and it does not have to adopt the politics and methods of those that threaten the community.
Single post (for printing): Normblog - Vote of shame
Norman Geras, 29/05/06
NATFHE has today voted to blacklist Israeli academics:
The largest university and college lecturers' union in Britain on Monday voted in favor of a motion recommending that its members boycott Israeli academics and institutions that do not publicly declare their opposition to Israeli policy in the territories.
The motion passed with 106 in favor and 71 against. There were 21 abstentions.
The 69,000-member National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) debated the proposal for the boycott at its annual conference in the northern English city of Blackpool. Two parts of the motion passed with a show of hands while a third went to a vote. Under the boycott, union members also will not submit articles to Israeli research papers.
The report in Haaretz goes on to quote Paul Mackney, NAFTHE general secretary, as saying:
Criticizing the Israeli government does not make me anti-Semitic...
Fancy footwork there, Paul, but not good enough. A blacklist of individuals isn't 'criticism' of their government; and the issue isn't whether you, personally, are an anti-Semite, but whether a policy of targeting the academics of one and only one country - Israel - is anti-Semitic. There's also the small matter of an academic union requiring of people a political declaration as a precondition of their being extended the usual courtesies and advantages of scholarly cooperation. What a disgrace to the profession the NATFHE decision is.
Source: Brian Klug on Comment is Free
Single post (for printing): Spare us the analogies, Brian Klug, 30/5/06
With its misplaced rhetoric about apartheid, the motion calling for an academic boycott of Israel is fatally flawed.
In the days when there was a white supremacist regime in South Africa, those of us who were opponents of apartheid came together in a concerted campaign to isolate the state from the rest of the international community. This included cutting ties with South African universities.
The policy was clear, the rationale unambiguous, and support was broadly based. Although there was some disagreement about strategy, on the whole it was a united front. A line in the sand was drawn, and you knew where you stood. On the one side were those who opposed apartheid, and consequently supported an academic boycott; on the other side was everyone else.
Nowadays, the spotlight is falling on Israel. The most recent instance is the resolution adopted on May 29 at the annual national conference of Natfhe, the largest academic staff union in Britain. Resolutions of this kind appear to be based on an analogy with the boycott campaign against South Africa, but the analogy is mistaken.
The Natfhe motion is fatally flawed in two ways. First, it is unclear what it calls for. Here is the punch line: "Conference invites members to consider their own responsibility for ensuring equity and non-discrimination in contacts with Israeli educational institutions or individuals, and to consider the appropriateness of a boycott of those that do not publicly dissociate themselves from such policies."
Is this a call for action or is it an invitation to quietly think things over? Does "Israeli educational institutions or individuals" include all sectors - even schools - or just colleges and universities? Does "individuals" mean staff alone or does it include students (such as Israeli applicants to UK graduate programmes)? And if a political test is going to be applied, who will administer it, how, and with what criteria?
Second, the underlying rationale, given in the opening paragraph of the motion, is both vague and paradoxical: "Conference notes continuing Israeli apartheid policies, including construction of the exclusion wall, and discriminatory educational practices. It recalls its motion of solidarity last year for the AUT resolution to exercise moral and professional responsibility."
Presumably, the second sentence refers to the AUT decision in April 2005 to boycott Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities. But this decision was overwhelmingly overturned a month later. Natfhe thus finds itself in the odd position of affirming its solidarity with a position that the AUT has emphatically rejected.
Which leaves the first sentence to carry the burden of explaining the reasoning behind the motion. But other than the "exclusion wall", it is unclear what exactly the motion is aimed against. Is the rationale opposition to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank per se? Or is it merely opposition to the way the territory is administered? Or is it opposition to institutionalised inequalities within Israel proper? Possibly (given the rhetoric of the word "apartheid") there is a subtext: opposition to the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state. And without knowing which of these policies and practices are meant, how is it possible to judge whether an institution or individual should dissociate from them?
In short, the intention of the Natfhe motion - what it seeks and why - is obscure. But even if the policy and rationale were clear and unambiguous, there is a deeper problem with motions of this sort that prevents them from attracting a broad base of support: they rely on the false (or limited) analogy implied by the word "apartheid". This is not to say that there are no points of comparison, for there are - just as there are in a host of other countries where minority ethnic and national groups are oppressed. Nor is it even to say that the suffering experienced by Palestinians is less than that endured by "non-whites" in South Africa: it may or may not be (although I am not sure how to do the sums). But as I have argued elsewhere: "The validity of the analogy does not depend on a catalogue of atrocities, however appalling".
In terms of history and motivation, the differences between the two situations are greater than the similarities. And in the end, any political action that is aimed at ameliorating the conditions of the Palestinians must be based on an analysis - not an analogy.
We need a line in the sand. But the analogy with South Africa leads people of goodwill to draw the line in the wrong place, dividing people who share the same goals and turning them against each other.
Moreover, the ubiquitous boycott debate tends to divert attention away from other alternatives. Various groups, such as the Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace - UK, are proposing initiatives that give practical support to those Palestinians and Israelis on the ground - in and out of academia - who are on the frontline.
Perhaps the new University and College Union, which comes into existence later this week (with the merger of Natfhe and AUT), will take a new look and draw a line that separates the sheep from the goats.
Source: Adloyada Blog
Single post (for printing): Adloyada - Surprise, surprise: NATFHE passes boycott motion
NATFHE Council has voted to boycott and blacklist Israeli universities and academics by a majority of 106 votes to 71.
Paul Mackney, general secretary of NATFHE, had already contemptously dismissed the thousands of emails and petition signatures against the proposed NATFHE boycott and blacklist of Israeli universities and academics in a speech to one of the NATFHE conference meetings on Saturday:
"I have received literally thousands of emails seeking to 'educate' me on the foolishness of our stance in support of the rights of Palestinians," Paul Mackney, the secretary general of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE), said at the association's annual national conference Saturday. "Many emails berate threats to deny academic freedom for Israeli professors but fail to mention that academic freedom in Palestine is a hollow joke. Even where staff and students are allowed freedom of movement to attend university, the material basis for a functioning academic life barely exists."
Mackney said that more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed since September 2000, the unemployment rate is higher among Palestinians and 185 Palestinian schools have been shelled or fired at, compared to one Israeli school.
Mackney also rejected charges that an academic boycott of Israel is anti-Semitic. "Criticizing the Israeli government does not make me anti-Semitic, any more than criticizing Bush and Blair makes me anti-Anglo-Saxon," he said.
The only surprise to me was that there was as large a vote against the boycott as 71 votes.
Last year's pro-boycott motion at the NATFHE conference was passed by a majority of something like over 200 to 2.
I've previously written about Mackney's role as a hard line agitator for extreme policies, including a major platform role in the Stop the War Campaign, which operates out of NATFHE premises, and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which is the major UK organization promoting boycotts of all things Israeli. Mackney's track record in promoting political radicalism in NATFHE has also been highlighted here and here.
NATFHE is not in fact a union whose members actually have much academic contact with Israel, because it represents the academics in the less prestigious universities, those which are less likely to be involved in international conferences, refereering political journals and conducting internationally acclaimed research.
But because it is about to merge with AUT, which does represent the academics of the most prestigious universities, its new policy will undoubtedly set the agenda for the newly merged union. NATFHE anyway has far more members than the AUT, and it is dominated by very experienced hard line far left apparatchiks who see their union as a sphere for promoting political action for which they would never get popular support in the national and local political arenas.
And since the AUT has now unanimously adopted a policy on boycotts which supports "triggering" by calls from "representative organizations" in "occupied territories", I'd say the chance of a boycott and blacklist motion being adopted by the merged union next year is very high indeed.
This article by my friend Colin Shindler presents eloquently the way in which such a boycott as NATFHE has just voted for will impact on his research:
As an academic teaching Israeli studies, the implication for me now is that any research that I carry out must be predicated on Israeli institutions and individuals providing the "correct" answers to me. Moreover, since my area of expertise is the Israeli Right and its origins, I believe that I would have a good case in arguing that the union would be deliberately impeding me in my legitimate work as an academic.
This new McCarthyism clearly challenges the very basis of freedom of expression and imposes limits on academic discourse.
I think the policies by Israeli universities of getting concerned academics and other opposers of this boycott to bombard NATFHE and its officers with emails were mistaken. As Mackney's remarks show, this merely enables them to present themselves as being harassed and of course the victim of orchestrated threats.
I especially think the Jewish community in the UK, and many academics in Israel, have made a disastrous mistake in deferring to the anti-occupation, Trotskyist-influenced group Engage as "leaders" of the opposition to the boycott. Engage consistently glossed over the risk of the situation that has now come to pass when it supported the merger of the two unions. Engage activists argued throughout last year that there would be no further danger of any boycott after the original AUT boycott motion was overturned last May. Their website currently carries articles claiming that the AUT's current policy on boycotts is one that virtually rules out any future boycotts, when the opposite is the case. It has consistently sought to fight the boycotts by staging the response as being one that there are better ways to fight the occupation, as if that is the legitimate course for academics to be pursuing.
In my view, the way to fight this and future boycotts is threefold.
Firstly, academics, and those who support academic freedom, and especially freedom from political manipulation, can fight on those grounds alone.
Secondly, the track record of the leaderships of these unions, and their use of their positions to promote extreme political positions unrepresentative of their memberships needs to be constantly exposed and publicised, They need to exposed as discreditable and discriminatory, and as the manifestations of a profoundly undemocratic agenda which has its origins in the Stalinist campaigns of the past.
Thirdly, those of us in these unions need to campaign for genuine democracy in the unions, where decisions about political action are only taken with the agreement of the whole of the membership.
Single post (for printing): Reason - UK to Israeli Profs: Class Dismissed 26/5/06
by Ari Paul, 26th May 2006
The weird movement to boycott Israeli academics
Ilan Pappe, a historian at Haifa University in Israel, has a message to foreign universities: Don't hire me.
An anti-Zionist who believes in the dissolution of the Jewish state, Pappe lends his moral support to the movement calling for a boycott of Israeli academics. The goal is to put pressure on the government to end its occupation of Palestinian territories. "It will affect me as a member of the academy," he says, "a very small price to pay if it succeeds."
The boycott effort picked up steam again this May in Britain, where it has the most support. The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) will vote on a measure to support a boycott at their annual conference on Monday. And some British academics have signed on as individuals. In May, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Richard Seaford, a professor at the University of Exeter, declined an offer to write for an Israeli journal due to his support for the boycott. The Association of University Teachers (AUT) also signed onto the boycott in 2005, but later backed off.
In general, the boycott is a reaction to Israel's mistreatment of Palestinians. Pappe sees the boycott as similar to the movement on American universities to divest from companies that do any business with Israel. "It touches upon the cultural self-image of Israelis," he says, "which is no less important to them than their economic standard of living."
But on a more direct level, academics in Britain have responded to some specific instances regarding the Israeli academy. When the AUT considered a resolution for a boycott, its advocates alleged that Hebrew University seized Palestinian land. Pappe was the subject of controversy at Haifa University in 2002 and faced termination when the accuracy of a student's paper came into question. Pro-Palestine advocates within the AUT cited the threat to Pappe's job as a reason for a boycott, but Pappe continues to teach at Haifa to this day.
The May vote by the NATFHE has set off alarm bells in the halls of the American Israel lobby and petitions against the boycott were circulated by email.
Even among the usual suspects in the pro-Palestinian sectors of the American-based intelligentsia, the movement has little support.
"A blanket boycott of Israeli academics is wrong," says Juan Cole, a professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Michigan and an outspoken critic of the Israeli government. "As a class, they have not done anything wrong. They are mostly critical of Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. They teach and interact with Arabs. The analogy to Apartheid just does not hold."
New York University professor and prominent Israel critic Tony Judt would not support a boycott of Israeli academics unless a critical mass of Israeli academics themselves supported it. Scottish-reared, California-based radical journalist Alexander Cockburn stands against the boycott even though his political newsletter, Counterpunch, has published authors in support of it. He believes it would be hypocritical of him to be personally in favor of such a boycott while rallying against the censorship of left wing intellectuals. "I'm generally against boycotts," Cockburn says.
But in Britain, people like Jacqueline Rose, a writer and teacher at Queen Mary (University of London) have no problem with the hypocrisy. Among other reasons, she has stated in the progressive press that an academic boycott is necessary because international bodies have not impeded Israel's alleged crimes.
British academics, says Judt (himself a British ex-pat), "have always been well to the left of the mainstream and live in a culture where that mainstream is much better informed—and more critical—about Israel than it is here in the U.S."
Yet if Britons were so well informed about injustice and more critical of bad-acting states, then why aren't groups like the NATFHE also calling for a boycott of American academics for their government's occupation of Iraq or of academics from the numerous Arab states with abysmal human rights records? Chinese engineers banned for the colonization of Tibet? British literature professors boycotted for the repression in Northern Ireland?
However Monday's vote goes, it's unlikely the boycott movement will make it across the pond. In the U.S., unlike in Britain, there is a consensus among academics that even if a government's actions are contemptible, the nation's intellectuals should not be held responsible.
"I do not see the movement for a boycott as growing," says Cole. "I think this is a rear guard action by people who have several times been defeated."
By Ruti Ben-Levi, A PhD Candidate in the UK, May 29th 2006
The NATFHE boycott of Israeli academics only proves how out of touch with reality these NATFHE members really are. Not only are they content to hold innocent students' education to ransom in the current strike action with the AUT, but now they are openly engaging in discrimination on the grounds of nationality.
Israeli academics have often been the pioneers in their field, and have contributed a great deal to discoveries in science and medicine. My own field, linguistics, has benefited greatly from the works of Israeli researchers such as Shoshana Blum-Kulka and Uri Margolin. If someone has a great idea that could provide benefits for all humankind, you don't ignore them just because you disagree with the politics of their home nation.
The whole concept of academe is to promote learning and encourage research across cultures, races, nations and political beliefs. Now these lecturers are hindering learning, trying to stamp on the toes of progress. They must be stopped.
By tygar-blog.com, May 29th 2006
I hope that NATFHE soon reverses their decision — until then, I fear this boycott will spur anti-British boycotts among those who deplore anti-Semitism. Boycotts work against academic freedom.
By Israel Matzav, May 29th 2006
Britain's 69,000 member National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) has voted to boycott Israel over what its members called "apartheid" policies toward 'Palestinians', saying that union members will refuse to cooperate with Israeli academics who do not "disassociate themselves from such policies.".
The teachers were meeting at their annual convention in Blackpool (what an appropriate name!) in Northern England. Two parts of the motion passed with a show of hands while a third went to a vote. Under the boycott, union members also will not submit articles to Israeli research papers.
Another British faculty union, The British Association of University Teachers, voted last year to boycott Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities, charging them with complicity in Israel's "suppression of the Palestinians." The association's council reversed the decision after objections by leading scholars and academic organizations.
NATFHE and the AUT are due to merge next month and any decisions made by the unions prior to the merger - including the NAFTHE vote in favor of boycotting Israeli academics - will be automatically nullified by the merger.
In other words, as disgraceful as this vote is, for the time being it is apparently symbolic and meaningless.
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