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NATFHE President on Trade Union Friends of Israel stall (2003)

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Past history of NATFHE conference

By Andre Oboler, Zionism On The Web special, 28th of May 2006

While the article below is not about the 2006 current situation, from reading it you could be excuses for think it was todays news. NATFHE has a history of anti-Israel positions and actions. Of the academic unions it is the more militant. It is also about to merge with the AUT. What will this mean for the future?

The AUT called for a boycott of two Israeli universities in 2005, then repealled the boycott after the world academic community stood up in anger at lack of respect British academics has for academic freedom. In truth the problem was never with British academic, but rather with the politicised nature of the union. The boycott was the result of a few radicals and a conference with political activists looking for a cause as delegates. The repeal was the result debate and discussion at local level right across the country. The boycott policy was undone by a large grass roots movement and a huge majority of a very representitive conference floor. At the emergency conference union branches that never bother going to conference sudden turned up with pull delegations to put a stop to the hijacking of their union.

When the AUT and NATFHE merge in about a week a fight will begin for control of the new union. Will the radicals take over leaving a union that members do not wish to be a part of? Or will both groups try to move forward and use the change as a chance to create a new united union that focuses on the issues affecting their members?

Only time will tell.

NATFHE President on Trade Union Friends of Israel stall at NATFHE 2003 Conference

Source: IAB on Academic Freedom Website


Concerns have been expressed to me about the presence of a Trade Union Friends of Israel stall in the Exhibition Hall, and at some of the literature on that stall. I understand that the TUFI asked for a presence at our Conference, as other trade union linked bodies do, and this was agreed through the normal processes. I also understand that, when some delegates drew the attention of those staffing the TUFI stall to the fact that several items on display on the stall were found to be offensive, these were immediately removed. It does seem that some of these have been reinstated, and I have asked Steering Committee to address the issue.

NATFHE's position on Palestine and Israel is clear. We support the rights of the Palestinian people to education, democracy and other civil rights, and believe that these can best be achieved through the establishment of a democratic, viable state within its own borders. We have condemned the violence which is taking place within both Israel and Palestine, but we are clear that Israel is the oppressor, and is occupying Palestinian territory in breach of international law. However, NATFHE policy has been to work with both Palestinian and Israeli trade unions to achieve its goals, and at the 2 May meeting, the NEC agreed to seek to carry this policy forward and seek contacts with both Palestinian and Israeli unions under the auspices of Education International.

NATFHE's position has been determined by the democratic process, and can be moved on by the democratic process. Exhibitors are not subject to the same constraints, and we have no mechanism for closely monitoring what is put on individual stalls, except that where something is clearly offensive, we will ask for its removal. As President, I am guardian of NATFHE's democracy, and that in this context is primarily concerned with the business on the floor of the Conference. I wish to ensure that the remaining business on Monday's agenda is dealt with in an orderly and business-like way, and would ask delegates to assist me in this process.

Gerard Kelly

Our links relevent to this article

The Inter-Senate Committee of the Israeli Universities for the defense of Academic Freedom

Prof Steinberg addresses the UK National Postgraduate Committee on the topic of Academic Freedom

A boycott is already on

Israel boycott resurfaces in NATFHE - AWL

NATFHE: Chuck out 198C! - Jon Pike (Engage)

Academic Friends of Israel situation update from 25/5/06

The Peace Vigil Page, the protest against the AUT boycott

Al-Quds University - Hebrew University. Cooperation Agreement

Principles of Palestinian-Israeli Cooperation

National Postgraduate Committee Says: Don't take Academia Hostage

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