31 May 2006
1. Request to members of the AUT and NATFHE
We are putting together a list of members of NATFHE and the AUT with a view to writing to the new Union the UCU to state our opposition to the NATFHE boycott policy and to urge the UCU to state where they stand on this issue. If you are willing to be part of this action please contact me immediately, stating which union you are a member of. We also need to know if you or colleagues are working on joint projects with Israeli academics.
2. Advice for NATFHE members
Please do not resign from the Union in protest at this moment in time. Resignations will not have any effect, no matter how distasteful this is at present to be a member of a Union with racist and discriminatory polices. It is better to work from within the union rather than from outside. We need you to remain a member. If you know of any colleagues who want to become members of the Academic Friends of Israel, please tell us especially if they are members of either union.
NATFHE motion on proposed boycott of Israeli academics – an AUT statement
This afternoon the AUT issued the following statement in light of yesterday’s boycott decision by NATFHE, I have highlighted the important points: At its recent annual conference NATFHE passed a motion inviting its members to consider boycotting Israeli academics under certain circumstances.
AUT does not endorse this policy and is strongly advising its members not to implement it.
In May 2005 AUT council overwhelmingly rejected an earlier decision to boycott two Israeli universities and reasserted its belief that freedom of expression, open debate and unhampered dialogue are prerequisites of academic freedom. In addition, the meeting went on to set up a commission to investigate the whole issue of international boycotts.
The report of the commission was agreed at May 2006 AUT council. It sets out a very careful, staged approach to boycotts which ensures that they are applied only in exceptional circumstances, are fully justified by the facts, and can be shown to be an effective way of furthering academic freedom and human rights. The commission considered only the collective boycotting of institutions by the union’s membership. It did not consider the boycotting of individual academics by individual union members.
This tactic is fraught with difficulties and dangers and should not be followed by AUT members.
On 1 June AUT and NATFHE join to form the University and College Union (UCU). The NATFHE motion is not binding on the UCU. The AUT will argue for the UCU to adopt the report of its commission. It will not support or cooperate in any way with any attempts to implement the NATFHE motion in advance of the first UCU annual national congress in June 2007.
Academic Friends of Israel
The Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld - Chairman of the Board of Fellows, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Henry Grunwald Q.C. - President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews
John D A Levy - Director of the Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East
Andrew R. Marks, M.D. - Columbia University, USA
Professor Leslie Wagner CBE
Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham
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