The Academic Friends of Israel


18 September 2006 

Dear Colleagues,

This digest has an international flavour, it covers the AAUP [The American Association of University Professors] and the boycott articles in latest issue of their journal Academe, an article by Irwin Cotler reflecting on five years after the United Nations Conference against Racism in Durban in 2001, a call from Irish academics on the EU to stop funding Israeli academic institutions and a report on the debate on the Lebanon War at last weeks the TUC [Trade Union Congress], the umbrella body for Britain’s Trade Unions.

As its next weekend is the Jewish New Year I would like to take the opportunity of wishing you all Shana Tova [A happy New Year].

Ronnie Fraser

Academic Friends of Israel 

1. Boycotting a Magazine’s Boycott Issue

In the annals of academic conferences, few may have been more ill-fated than the aborted conclave on academic boycotts planned by the American Association of University Professors. When the conference was called off in March, organizers hoped that they could salvage something good from the idea by taking papers planned for the conference and publishing them in a special issue of Academe, the AAUP’s magazine. The issue is out, but the controversy continues. Authors who are supportive of Israel refused to let Academe publish their work, arguing that the entire effort was just an attempt to “demonize” Israel. Ironically, those who support Israel generally endorse the AAUP policy on academic boycotts, which takes the view that boycotts are almost always wrong.  So the issue features considerable commentary from scholars who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and who support efforts to boycott Israeli universities — a stance opposed by the association……….

To read the full story and also the readers comments on the article go to:

You can find the online version of AAAUP journal here with copies of all the papers prepared by Critics of the AAUP Report, Omar Barghouti, Rema Hammami, Sondra Hale, Hilary Rose, Lisa Taraki at: 

Opposition papers in Academe and letters from Michael Yudkin, Gerald M. Steinberg as well as a response from Roger Bowen are at:

2. The disgrace of Durban - five years later by Irwin Cotler

At the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban 2001, SANGOCO (the South African NGO Committee) promoted the proposal to act against Israel in a similar fashion to what was done in the past against white-ruled South Africa. SANGOCO has a close relationship with the PLO.  The programme proposed by SANGOCO was to be carried out over a period of five years has been summarised as follows:

1. To launch an educational program to create worldwide solidarity against Israel, the last bastion of Apartheid.

2. To use all legal mechanisms in countries of universal jurisprudence including the International Criminal Court against Israel.

3. To discredit the Law of Return, the foundation of Zionism and Israel, and to replace it with a Law of Return for all Palestinian refugees in order to create moral equivalence.

4. To re-institute the Arab boycott out of Damascus combined with a secondary boycott as in the 1970s and 1980s.

5. To impose a sports, telecommunications, academic, scientific, and military embargo on Israel.

Points 6 and 7 encapsulate their broad goals: the eventual rupture of all diplomatic relationships with Israel and the measures against any state that does not accept ostracism of Israel.

Irwin Cotler in his article in the National Post writes about the disgrace of Durban –five years later:

It was said in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 that "the whole world changed." I don't know if the world is any different. But it is clear that 9/11 had a transformative impact on our politics and collective psyche.But if 9/11 was a transformative event, the same description must apply to another event that ended on the eve of 9/11. I am referring to "The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance" in Durban, South Africa, which was the "tipping point" for the emergence of a new wave of anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-racism. Unfortunately, the 5th anniversary of this event has gone largely unremarked……

The full article can be found at:  

3. Irish academics call on EU to stop funding Israeli academic institutions

In a letter published in the Irish Times today (text below), 61 Irish academics from a wide variety of disciplines called for a moratorium on EU support of Israeli academic institutions until Israel abides by UN resolutions and ends the occupation of Palestinian territories………

To read the full articles go to

4. Britain’s TUC at its annual conference last week debated the Lebanon War.

 The TUC [Trade Union Congress] meeting at Brighton last week passed a motion which supported the right of the Palestinian people to an independent Palestinian state, called for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from all occupied territories and for the removal of the security fence described in the motion as the illegally constructed ‘apartheid wall’.

You will find the complete TUC motion on Palestine below as well as the TUC Statement “the killing must stop now” issued on the 24 July 2006 and a further statement issued on the Middle East issued on 26 July 2006.Ruth Winters, President of the Fire Brigades Union in the debate criticised the Labour Government for its failure to act to bring justice to the Palestinian people and condemned Israel for its “state terrorism” against the Palestinian people especially in Gaza. She also called on unions to affiliate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

UNISON deputy General Secretary Keith Sonnet told the TUC congress that Israel must abide by all the United Nations resolutions on Palestine and the occupation of Gaza and must demolish the "apartheid" security wall. He called for a boycott and arms embargo of Israel and for its favoured trading nation status to be withdrawn until these conditions were met. He also stated that Israel does have a right to defend itself, but the response in Gaza and the Lebanon has been wholly disproportionate.

Other Unions that spoke in support of the motion included The National Union of Teachers, The Transport and Salaried Staff Association, The Communications Workers Union and the Transport and General Workers Union. 

A guest speaker at the Congress was Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain who in his address who stated that “it is also clear that the government is in a state of denial of the effect that its policies, domestic as well as foreign, have had in adding fuel to the fire and bringing about a society with heightened levels of mistrust, fear and frustration.”

To read his speech in full go to:

To read the TUC General Council statement issued jointly with the Muslim Council of Britain:

 Richard LittleJohn a British journalist wrote an article last week about Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari called “So this is what they mean by moderate voices” In it he takes Dr Bari to task about his “moderate” polices. 

The article can be found at: <  

TUC Motion C16 Palestine(Motion 74 and amendments)
Congress supports:

  1. the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination;
  2. the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland;
  3. the withdrawal of Israeli troops from all occupied territories; and
  4. the removal of the illegally constructed ‘apartheid wall’.

 Congress believes that the achievement of justice for the Palestinians will help bring peace to the Middle East and to the people of Israel.

Congress condemns the Government of Israel’s suspension of revenue payments to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the suspension of aid by the European Union, the United States Administration and others.

These actions, which threaten the wages of approximately 160,000 workers and the well-being of the Palestinian people as a whole, are condemned by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions.

Congress condemns the recent Israeli attack on the Gaza City power station, the use of sonic booms over Gaza, and the seizure of members of the democratically elected Palestinian government.
Congress resolves to ask the General Council to:

  1. call on the British Government to maintain all funding to the PA and call for the restoration of all EU and other international aid to the PA;
  2. pressurise the Government of Israel to restore the revenues collected by them to their rightful owners, the PA;
  3. make appropriate representations to the quartet (US, EU, Russia and the UN) to take immediate steps to achieve a negotiated settlement based on justice for the Palestinians;
  4. raise these issues in the ETUC, ICFTU, Histadrut and ILO and all appropriate international and national bodies;
  5. continue to make every effort to promote dialogue between Palestinian and Israeli trade unionists and the building of direct links with Palestinian trade unions;
  6. seek to bring about greater cooperation amongst solidarity organisations supporting the rights of the Palestinian people, such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and encourage all affiliates to affiliate; and
  7. call on the British Government to make public its concern at Israel’s continued attacks on Gaza.

Mover:       Fire Brigades’ UnionSeconder:   Educational Institute of Scotland

Supporter:  Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association

Extract of from the TUC annual report:


The General Council maintained regular contact with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and brief meetings were held with General Secretary Shaher Sa’ed in Geneva and in London on the occasion of a Palestine Solidarity Campaign conference in March at which he and Frances O’Grady spoke, and with other PGFTU officials in Amman in February, where the TUC took part in an evaluation of he ICFTU Middle East trade union training programme.

Brendan Barber congratulated former Chair of Histadrut, Amir Peretz, on his election as leader of the Israeli Labour Party in December. Following discussions with the PGFTU, in June Brendan Barber wrote to the ETUCGeneral Secretary, John Monks, and to Dr Kim Howells, Foreign Office Minister, to express the TUC’s view that the EU’s policy on funding the Palestinian Authority and the decision ofthe Israeli government to withhold monies which rightfully belong to the PA was seriously affecting public service workers in Palestine and the economy as a whole and appeared as though the Palestinian people were being punished collectively. Following the reinvasion of Gaza by Israeli forces in July, the General Secretary wrote to the Foreign Secretary calling for a meeting and for support for an immediate ceasefire.

A General Council statement was adopted which echoed the calls of the ICFTU for a ceasefire and for returning to the road map for peace in the region as soon as possible. The statement is set out in a second annex to this chapter. The TUC is seeking to send a delegation to the Middle East as soon as possible, to hold bilateral meetings with the PGFTU in Nablus and the Histadrut (including he new Chair, Ofer Eini) in Tel Aviv. 

The killing must stop now 

ICFTU / WCL statement on the crisis in the Middle East(Adopted 24 July 2006) 

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the World Confederationof Labour today issued a statement expressing their feelings of revulsion at the growing loss of innocent lives due to the escalating violence between Israel andLebanon. “We deplore the indiscriminate use of lethal force against civilians, and call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. The region stands at a crossroads leading either to a deepening spiral of conflict, hatred and death, or to a lasting peace offering the hope of a better future for the working people of all countries. On the eve of talks in Rome, to be attended by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, there is an urgent need for the international community to commit itself under UN leadership to new diplomatic initiatives to restart the peace process.

 Achievement of permanent peace must start with a immediate cessation of hostilities, and acceptance by all parties that sovereignty, territorial integrity and security is not only a basic right of other countries but in the interests of their own. No people can be secure with failed states as their neighbours. The ICFTU and WCL therefore reiterate their call for the full implementation of UNSecurity Council Resolutions 242 and 338, as well as 1559 and the Road Map forPeace. The long years of reconstruction of Lebanon from the ravages of its civil war have been wiped out by the disproportionate use of military force which, in addition to the loss of innocent life it has inflicted, has deliberately destroyed the country’s infrastructure.

The long term challenge to the international community is to help the people of Lebanon rebuild once more in conditions of safety and freedom to determine their own future. The immediate challenge is to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the millions in desperate need of it.We urge the international community to respond to the UN appeal for aid to the 800,000 people caught up in the conflict. The ICFTU and WCL remind all parties of their responsibilities under international humanitarian law. By renouncing the use of terror and aggression, by withdrawing to recognized borders, by the early exchange of prisoners, and by committing themselves to dialogue and diplomacy they can open the way to a peace which is within reach.

 The harmonious coexistence of secure and sovereign states in Lebanon, Palestine andIsrael is what working people in those countries want and need and the ICFTU andWCL express their solidarity with them and their aspirations. Those millions of families who are instead compelled to flee their homes or to live in shelters under the threat of lethal force, deserve better than further excuses for the violence and destruction visited upon them.The killing must stop now so that the task of building peace can begin.”  


 The TUC General Council today joins with the international trade union movement in expressing its horror at the loss of life and the human suffering caused by the current conflict in the Middle East.  The General Council expressed support for the UN Secretary General and his calls for restraint by all parties and an investigation into the deaths of UN officials in Lebanon,as well as for his strong criticism over both the capture of Israeli soldiers by Hamas andHezbollah and Israel’s disproportionate use of violence, which has further escalated the crisis.

Once again innocent civilians – adults and children - are bearing the brunt of armed conflict and the failure of politicians to find pragmatic, effective and peaceful solutions. Alongside concerted international action to end the violence, urgent attention mustbe given to the serious and deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories. Immediate action needs to be taken to ensure that there is free access for UN staff and for humanitarian aid to reach the Gaza Strip, along with steps by the international community to help break the stalemate in relations between the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. 

The General Council endorses the attached statement issued by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and, in particular, urges those involved and with influence to:• support the leadership role of the United Nations;• secure an immediate ceasefire;• ensure the release of all those seized during this period;• call for an end to attacks on journalists; and• return to the Road Map as the only way to ensure a just and lasting peace in the region. 

The General Council urges the EU, the British Government and TUC affiliates to do all that they can to bring this about. The General Council reiterates its support for a two state solution for Israel and Palestine, and its willingness to assist both the Histadrut and the PGFTU to play a full role in the peace process.



The Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks 

Advisory Board: 

 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 JewsAmir Lev John D A Levy - Director of the Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East

Andrew R. Marks, M.D. - Columbia University, USA

Dr Robin Stamler

Professor Leslie Wagner CBE

Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham 

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