Israel and Palestine
Updated after May 2003 Congress
The AUT is aware that the incursions of Israeli forces into the Palestinian areas of jurisdiction directly affects universities, colleges and other educational institutions. More directly affected are their staff and students, as well as trade unionists, all of whom have been among those killed and injured.
We are also aware that the conflict is having an impact on the academic community in the Middle East, as well as other parts of the world, where the ability to speak with academic freedom can become constrained by political and economic interests, related to the conflict.
We believe that education has a central role to play in achieving a sustainable, long-term resolution to the conflict but that it can only flourish in conditions of peace. Therefore we support the international call for a withdrawal from armed conflict of all those involved in order to seek a peaceful resolution based on UN resolutions that have been strongly supported by the international trade union and academic communities.
We work through the European Trade Union Committee for Education and Education international to lend support and encouragement to all colleagues in the region who are urging their governments to cease armed conflict and a return to negotiations.
We also support the call by academics in the UK and elsewhere for a moratorium on EU and European Science Foundation funding of Israeli cultural and research institutions until Israel abides by UN resolutions and opens meaningful peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
The AUT offers support to colleagues in Palestine who have struggled for many years to establish and maintain a free and democratic system of higher education in the face of overwhelming difficulties. We are affiliated to the Trade Union Friends of Palestine, and urge our members and local associations to support the aims of that organisation.
We also urge our local associations to establish links with Palestinian universities, including campaigning for formal twinning arrangements between Palestinian and British institutions, to support colleagues and students there, and resist the narrowing of their opportunities and suppression of their academic freedom by the oppression of the occupation.
In addition, the AUT deplores the witch-hunting of colleagues, including AUT members, who are participating in the academic boycott of Israel. We recognise that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism, and resolve to give all possible support to members of AUT who are unjustly accused of anti-Semitism because of their political opposition to Israeli government policy.
AUT statement 9th May 2003
AUT rejects boycott of Israeli institutions
Delegates at the annual AUT conference have rejected a motion calling for people to consider boycotting Israeli institutions. The motion, which was put forward by the union's Birmingham local association, was rejected by around two-thirds of the delegates at the Scarborough conference.
While Sue Blackwell, of the Birmingham local association, was the main speaker in favour of the motion, Alan Waton, of the national executive, was the main speaker against. The proposed motion called on all UK institutions and AUT members to review their academic links with official Israeli institutions, including universities 'in view of Israel's repeated breaches of UN resolutions and the Geneva Conventions'.
After the debate an AUT spokesman said: 'The AUT includes people with a wide range of views. 'And the debate over this issue will have made many think more closely about how the Middle East crisis should be resolved. 'However, in the end delegates clearly decided that the best way of resolving the issue is to pursue dialogue not boycotts.'