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UCU boycott, NATFHE boycott, AUT boycott and other academic boycotts targetting Israeli universities

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UJS Chair writes to UCU General Secretary

By Jonathan Levy, UJS Chairman, May 31st 2007
Source: UJS Chair's letter to UCU (pdf at UJS) (or local pdf)

Dear Ms. Hunt,

The Union of Jewish Students is the democratic grass-roots body representing over ten thousand Jewish students studying at British Universities. As Chairman, I am contacted by many of them on a daily basis, with complaints over the difficulties they face on campus, simply because they are Jewish.

I wish to convey to you in no uncertain terms the level of concern raised amongst our membership by the UCU congress decision to pass policy representing a step towards the absolute boycott of Israeli academics.

The sheer volume of calls and emails UJS has received surrounding this issue over the last 36 hours is unprecedented. Now more than ever, Jewish students are feeling not only angry and frustrated, but intimidated, worried and even scared over this decision, and what may follow.

It is clear that a boycott will do nothing to benefit the Palestinian cause, but serves only to harm academia in general and the credibility of the newly formed UCU. This assault on academic freedom is punishing the most progressive sector of Israeli society, and damaging the voices for peace so often promoted by Jewish groups at universities across the country.

Whether a Jewish lecturer or student is supportive or otherwise of Israeli government policy, they are viewed by others as a face of Israel. The passing of this motion, and the campaigning it instructs your NEC to carry out, therefore has the potential to negatively affect every Jew on campus.

As General Secretary you have publicly stated numerous times your opposition to the boycott, and have pledged that you would put any decision of this nature to your entire membership. Now I am asking for you to follow up these words with action. I am requesting you to use all your power at the head of the UCU to immediately call a referendum, to ballot the membership on the issue of a boycott of Israeli academics. There are many thousands of Jews on campuses eagerly hoping and awaiting your action. I too await your response.

Yours Sincerely,
Jonathan Levy
UJS Chairman

Cc: Mitch Simmons - UJS Campaigns Organiser

Reproduced at Zionism On The Web with permission

Related items:

Press Releases

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

News Reports

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, Newsletters

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

Other sites related to the boycott

UJS's UCU Academic Boycott
BICOM on the UCU Boycotts
Academic Friends of Israel
Jewish Agency page on Addressing the Academic Boycott of Israel at UCU