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UCU academic boycott against Israel 2008

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Union committee to reconsider Israeli academics boycott

Anthea Lipsett, Education Guardian, Thursday March 27, 2008
Source: Education Guardian

The University and College Union (UCU)'s national executive committee (NEC) has agreed to reconsider a boycott of Israeli academics at its annual congress in May.

An internal motion to discuss the possibility of a boycott of Israeli academics was put to the NEC meeting on March 14.

It notes the "apparent complicity of the Israeli academy" in Israeli government policies towards the Palestinians, and states the UCU should "promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued education links with Israeli academic institutions".

According to the Stop the Boycott Coalition (STB) - academics and Jewish and non-Jewish groups who are against a boycott - Tom Hickey, Brighton University academic and Socialist Workers Party activist, put forward the motion, which was seconded by Linda Newman, UCU's president.

A similar motion at UCU's inaugural annual congress in May last year sparked prolonged international outrage after members agreed to take steps towards a vote on introducing an academic boycott of Israeli universities.

However, in September, the UCU cancelled regional meetings organised for members to discuss the "moral implications" of existing links with Israel after taking legal advice that a boycott call ran the risk of infringing discrimination legislation and was also considered to be outside the aims and objectives of the union.

Lorna Fitzsimons, co-chairwoman of the STB, said: "It is ludicrous that a few individuals in the UCU are seeking to resurrect this again.

"Late last year the union was forced, at great expense, to seek legal advice to make a similar motion go away because of the pressure from ordinary union members.

"The members made it clear that they thought that this sort of motion should be decided by all members through a ballot and not the congress [as has been proposed].

"The fact that the NEC have ignored that and sought to put a motion for congress again is showing a flagrant disregard for their members' wishes."

She said the coalition was seeking legal advice to show UCU members that any boycott would be illegal.

"It is imperative for the future credibility of the UCU itself, as well as all British academia, that this nonsense is stopped immediately," she said.

UCU's general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "Motions to be debated at UCU congress will be considered, amended and decided in the coming weeks.

"Delegates will then have the opportunity to debate those motions, as is their right."

Reproduced at Zionism On The Web for educational purposes only, please site the initial source as listed above

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