Responding to the UCU calls in support of a boycott of Israeli universities
By Lancaster University Students Union, 31 May 2007
The following motion was passed as an emergency motion on 31/5/07 by the Union Council at Lancaster University Students' Union. The motion passed with no votes against it, though there were (as usual) a number of absentions.
Emergency Motion: Responding to the UCU calls in support of a boycott of Israeli universities
This union notes:
- On the 30th of May 2007, i.e. yesterday, the new lecturers union, the UCU, voted through a motion titled “Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions”
- The General Secretary of the UCU stated after the vote "I do not believe a boycott is supported by the majority of UCU members, nor do I believe that members see it is a priority for the union"
- Today, the National Postgraduate Committee to which we affiliate issued a press release (attached) noting their opposition to any moves towards an academic boycott and concerns about impact on both staff and students.
- The UK Parliamentary report on antisemitism discussed academic boycotts and concluded “that calls to boycott contact with academics working in Israel are an assault on academic freedom and intellectual exchange. We recommend that lecturers in the new University and College Lecturers Union are given every support to combat such selective boycotts that are anti-Jewish in practice. We would urge the new union’s executive and leadership to oppose the boycott.”
This union believes:
- An academic boycott is an affront to the principle of academic freedom, and to the rights of our students and staff to work with whoever they wish.
- The UCU’s motion that says “neutrality is unacceptable”, goes against the rights of students who are entitled to impartiality from academics regardless of their nationality.
- The UCU’s motion statement that “criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-semitic”, which rejected an amendment to insert the word “some” before the word “criticism”, is in stark contradiction to the EU definition of antisemitism which notes that SOME criticism CAN be antisemitic in nature. The EU definition was adopted by NUS last conference and this council believes NUS conference, and the UK Parliamentary enquiry into antisemitism have the right of this matter.
This union resolves:
- To write the General Secretary of the UCU to express our opposition to an academic boycott and our concern that moves supporting such boycotts will be detrimental to our students and academic life in general. To express the desire that any future motions calling for a boycott be put to a membership ballot as is done over pay disputes. This is the only truly democratic approach, especially when the political elite of the union and the grass roots have different priorities and opinions on the matter.
- To write to the General Secretary of the NPC expressing our continued support of the NPC policy on this matter, and thanking NPC for taking a stand on behalf our and other member unions’ students.
- To write to the local branch of the UCU expressing our opposition to academic boycotts, our concern with the UCU motions wording, particularly as it relates to antisemitism, and our hope that the local branch will support LUSU in opposing move towards a boycott and do all it can with in the UCU structures. A copy of the letter to the UCU general secretary should be attached.
- To write to the NUS President supporting their position of opposition to the boycott and their concerns and thanking them for acting on behalf of our students.
- To mandate the union president to send the letters above after they have been draft and the draft text agreed to by the union’s student trustees and the union council chair and deputy chair.
This document is not copyright and may be reproduced, Zionism On The Web is the original place of publication online
AFI Digest of March 28th
National Postgraduate Committee (NPC)
National Union of Students (NUS)
Jewish Agency (JAFI)
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Statement from The Russell Group on UCU motion on Israeli boycott
Statement from the LSE on UCU's motion in support of an Israel boycott
Columbia University response to boycotts of Israeli universites
Board of Deputies Response to UCU academic Boycotts
American Jewish Congress response to UCU boycott
American Physiological Society Response to the British academic boycott of Israel (includes feedback on this)
National Postgraduate Committee and the Academic Boycotts (14/8/07)
University and College Union (UCU) Press Release, Boycott illegal, 28th Sept 2007
Academic Friends of Israel Press Release, 29 September 2007
Union committee to reconsider Israeli academics boycott, The Education Guardian, March 27, 2008 UK group proposes boycott of Israeli academia, Jerusalem Post, March 30, 2008
A slippery slope to totalitarianism, Education Guardian, May 24, 2007
Physicist who refused to lecture in U.K.: I'm not calling for boycott, Haaretz, May 25, 2007
Livni [Israeli FM] meets with British ambassador over U.K. boycotts, Haaretz, May 29, 2007
Memo From London: Should British Academics, or Rock Bands, Boycott Israel? New York Times, May 30, 2007
Lecturers back boycott of Israel, Education Guardian, May 30, 2007
Academics express outrage at Israeli boycott, Education Guardian, May 31, 2007
Divide and Rule, Education Guardian, June 5, 2007
Boycott should outrage academics, Inside Higher Ed, June 5 2007
Ignored by the Brits, Ynet, June 6, 2006
Boycott will destroy British academia, The Guardian, Saturday June 9, 2007
We Will Isolate Them, The Guardian, June 9, 2007 + ZOTW Commentry June 10, 2007
Government to form joint task force to counter U.K. boycotts, Haaretz, June 8, 2007
UK proposes joint academic seminar, Ynet News, June 10, 2007
US Unions condemn boycotts, The Jewish Chronicle, August 17 2007
Boycott a blessing in disguise, YNet News, Opinion, June 1 2007
FM praises British academics for nixing planned boycott of Israel, Haaretz, 30/09/2007
British academics forgo boycott call, Haaretz, 29/09/2007
Lecturers drop Israeli universities boycott call after legal advice, The Guardian, 29/09/2007
Responces, Blogs, Newsletters2008
UCU Reconsidering Boycott, Little Bulldogs, March 27 2008
UJS Chair's letter to UCU General Secretary
Lancaster University Students' Union Policy in repsonse
Academic Friends of Israel Digest vol 6 no 10 One week on
Academic Friends of Israel Digest vol 6 no 12
Goldhirsh Foundation Response
Responding to the Boycott by Shalom Lappin, at normblog, June 3 2007
Dark Days for the British Academy a letter by Prof Daniel Statman
A letter to UCU from Guy Handelman
SPME Petition against the boycott
Response from prominent British figures and law-makers, in Guardian Letters page, June 12, 2007
Other relevent documents and sources
The 2007 UCU motions
The 2007 document to be sent to branches
An explanation about the Durban Stratagy
Key quotes and summary of responses to the UCU policy
Why a cultural boycott of Israel would be banal, gestural and morally compromised
Relevent section of the Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism
More background on anti-Israel boycotts in general