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The Academic Friends of Israel
The Academic Friends of Israel

                                                                                     

AFI digest 

19 November 2006

Contents:

1. UK Government issues guidelines on Islamist extremism on Britain's university campuses

2. The UCU and an Academic Boycott of Israel

3. Letter to IAB and SPME:  The European Commission Rejects Boycott Proposed by Irish Academics

4. Israeli Universities, Israel-Palestinian Peace and Real Solidarity - Paul Frosh, Hebrew University, Jerusalem 

5. Interview with Jonathan Rosenhead, a member of the British Committee for Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)

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1. UK Government issues guidelines on Islamist extremism on Britain's university campuses

The UK government this week issued clear guidelines aimed at tackling violent Islamist extremism on Britain's university campuses. This comes a week after the Sunday Times reported that fundamentalists had been recently reported at least four British universities: Brunel University, west London, Bedfordshire University, Luton, Sheffield Hallam University and Manchester Metropolitan University. Although the document is at aimed Islamic extremism the section on recent legislation is useful as it provides Jewish academics and students with practical and valuable information which can be applied to instances of antisemitism on campus.

To read the DFEE press release go to: http://www.dfes.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2006_0170

To read the DFEE guidelines go to: 
http://www.dfes.gov.uk/pns/pnattach/20060170/1.txt
 
Islamists infiltrate four universities - The Sunday Times - 12 November 2006
 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3561-2449930,00.html

Universities given 'how-to' guide for fighting violent Islam

The Times -17November 2006

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3561-2458249_1,00.html 

The UCU along with NUS, UNISON, FOSIS (the Federation of Student Islamic Students), and the ECU (Equality Challenge Unit) issued a joint statement which can be found at:  http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/6/s/campusjtstatement_nov05_1.pdf 

2. The UCU and an Academic Boycott of Israel

It is generally accepted that there will be another boycott attempt at the first UCU conference next May. However before the conference there is the matter of election of a new General Secretary for the UCU, which is crucial as to whether the Union in future will support or oppose a boycott. One thing is sure that who ever wins, the UCU will continue to be critical of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. The two main candidates are; Sally Hunt the former General Secretary of the AUT and Roger Kline who is Head of the Equality department of the UCU and comes from a NATFHE background. The AFI has written to both candidates asking for an interview so that we discuss the concerns of AFI members in order that we can advise our members who to vote for. Roger Kline has the backing of the Left and has given an interview to the Socialist Worker, who are backing him in his bid. Sally Hunt is probably the more moderate of the candidates and comes from the AUT, which since it voted to overturn the 2005 motion passed guidelines for future boycotts at its last conference earlier this year. These guidelines have since been adopted by the UCU. The attitude of the UCU to an academic boycott of Israel is crucial and a vote to support such a move could split the union. The British Parliamentary inquiry into antisemitsm recommended that pro-democracy lecturers in the UCU be given every support to combat such selective boycotts that are anti-Jewish in practice. They also urged the new union’s executive and leadership to oppose the boycott. So far no decision has been made by the union and it is hoped that the UCU executive will adopt this recommendation of this influential committee, which would make it more difficult for a boycott motion to be adopted at conference. However the at this stage nobody knows the makeup of the conference delegates. What we do know is that both the AUT and NATFHE conferences were each attended by 200 delegates and the UCU conference will have about the same number. However there are 500 academic institutions in the UK at which the UCU has members and at this stage the UCU is not saying how each institution will be represented at conference save to say that if an institution has 100 members it will have 1 delegate and over 400 members it will be entitled to 2 delegates. Within the 500 institutions, 100 are universities and the remaining 400 further education colleges. UCU membership stands at just over 100,000 with the AUT powerbase coming from the “old” 80 universities and NATFHE in the 20 “new” ones.  It is therefore not easy to predict how conference will vote next year.Following on from the successful visit to the UK by Yuli Tamir, the Israeli Education Minister we are asking Israeli Universities for more regular high profile visits from the Presidents and Vice-Presidents to publicise and build on the many links they have with British Universities. At present over 30% of British Universities have links or joint projects with Israeli universities and we need to capitalise on this fact in our campaign against future boycott attempts. Ben Gurion University has already recognised that it needs to do more and now asks its staff if they are on sabbatical leave in the UK to become involved in promoting Israel academia and campaigning against the boycott. The Academic Friends of Israel have also asked Israeli Universities to compile lists of all academic contacts and links with UK Universities as the larger the list the more difficult it will be impose a boycott.

3. Letter to IAB and SPME:  The European Commission Rejects Boycott Proposed by Irish Academics

The International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom (IAB) of Bar Ilan University and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), are pleased to announce that the European Commission has no intention of suspending its programs of co-operation with Israeli institutions. In a letter published in the Irish Times on 16 September, 61 Irish academics called for a moratorium on EU support of Israeli academic institutions until Israel ends the occupation of Palestinian territories

See also: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3307438,00.html http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/766389.html ).

On September 22, 2006, The International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom (IAB) - Bar Ilan University & Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) called upon the European Union to defend academic freedom and to clearly state that it opposes such boycotts. The letter to the EU, signed by IAB chair and BIU Pro-Rector Prof. Yosef Yeshurun and SPME president, Dr. Ed Beck, stated that "Academic life is about building bridges, not destroying them, opening minds, not closing them; hearing both sides of an argument, not one alone. The call for an EU boycott of Israeli academia is a betrayal of these values".Today, November 16, 2006, the office of the External Relations Directorate General of the European Commission, stated in a letter addressed to Prof. Yeshurun and Dr. Beck, that the European Commission considers "that measures such as to suspend the support that the EU addresses to academic and scientific co-operation between European and Israeli institutions are contrary to the principles of academic freedom and its objective of encouraging scientific cooperation". The letter, signed by Alain Seatter, head of the EU unit, added that "It is the Commission’s view (which reflects the views of the EU foreign ministers) that positive persuasion and dialogue on respect for international and humanitarian law through the means provided by the legal treaties with Israel is a more effective approach to conveying EU views on issues such as those raised by the academics to whom you refer". The letter concluded that "For this reason, the European Commission has no intention of suspending its programs of co-operation with Israeli institutions".

The IAB & SPME welcome the European Commission's statement and consider it an acknowledgement of their position that Academic boycott actions are antithetical to the universal principle of Academic Freedom. 

4. Israeli Universities, Israel-Palestinian Peace and Real Solidarity - Paul Frosh, Hebrew University, Jerusalem 

Everyone should read this essay because Paul Frosh outlines cooperative projects between The Hebrew University and Palestinian Academics which provide the clearest statement of where Israeli academics stand with respect to their Palestinian colleagues. The essay can be found at: http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=731

5. Interview with Jonathan Rosenhead, a member of the British Committee for Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)

Bricup has been at the forefront of the academic boycott of Israel campaign. He says that the boycott will last until Israel negotiates an acceptable resolution with the Palestinians – that is, it will end when the Palestinians say that it is no longer needed. Expect to see them at a university near you soon.

To read the interview go to: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article5995.shtml 

Patron: 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 Jews

Amir 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 StamlerProfessor Leslie Wagner CBE

Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham 

 

The Academic Friends of Israel Ltd is limited by guarantee and registered in England No 5297417.