The Academic Friends of Israel


AFI Digest

7 January 2007


1. The UCU has now replied to the criticism that the UK Parliamentary committee inquiry into Antisemitism made of the AUT and Natfhe. Engage has written a full response to the UCU document and is asking for UCU members to consider adding their names to it.

The Academic Friends of Israel fully supports this initiative, so please read the Engage document and if you agree with it and are UCU member please send an email to

2. National Union of Students say Israel Academic Boycott may be anti-Semitic.

3. An article from America on Divestment from Israel, the Liberal Churches and Jewish Responses.



1. An urgent request from Engage to UCU members:

Dear Colleagues,

This urgent request goes out particularly to UCU members. Please pass it on to any UCU members who you think might respond positively.

We, at Engage, are asking you to give us half an hour of your time over the next few days to read a couple of documents and to consider adding your name to one.

We rarely ask for your attention this urgently and this directly but we do so now because we believe that a significant and rapid members' response to the UCU leadership on this issue could be an important statement of our intent and our strength within the UCU.

You may know that a Parliamentary All Party Committee held an inquiry into contemporary antisemitism in the UK during 2006. Its report is here . It had some useful things to say about antisemitism on campus and was particularly clear in its opposition to the campaign to boycott Israeli academia.

UCU has now responded to the criticism that the Parliamentary committee made of the AUT and Natfhe. UCU's response is here .

We have written the following about the UCU response:

"Engage believes that this response is evasive, disingenuous and complacent. It fails to address anti-semitism seriously, and it ignores important and justified criticism of the UCUís predecessor unions. Engage will make a full and public response to this document in due course. The document claims to be speaking "on behalf of the many members of UCU to restate this union's unremitting opposition to anti-semitism". Unfortunately, however, we do not believe that our union's record has been anywhere near as flawless with respect to antisemitism as this document claims. The document does not speak for us."

We have written a full response to the UCU document and we would like you to consider adding your name to it if you are a member of the UCU. Please read the Engage response carefully.

Our draft response is here . Please keep this link confidential for the moment since this draft has not yet been made public.

We intend to write a short version of this document and to have it published in the press if possible. If you ask to add your name to the document we will assume that you also support the shorter version that we will distill from the document.

We do ask that only UCU members respond to this call. If you work in a college or a university and are eligible to join the UCU, please do so.

UCU members who want to add their name to the document should send their name and institution to the following address:

Yours Sincerely,

Jon Pike, Open
Shalom Lappin, Kings, London
Kirsten Campbell, Goldsmiths
Eve Garrard, Keele
David Seymour, Lancaster
David Hirsh, Goldsmiths
Robert Fine, Warwick


2. National Union of Students say Israel Academic Boycott may be antisemitic

From Engage's website- the NUS's National Executive committee decided to adopt the EUMC definition of anti-semitism-

The Executive also maintained opposition to an academic boycott of Israel 'in line with the findings' of the Parliamentary inquiry into antisemitism, which points out that demonisation of Israel may be antisemitism.

3. An article from America on Divestment from Israel, the Liberal Churches and Jewish Responses by Dr Eugene Korn, director of Jewish affairs at the American Jewish Congress

Dr Korn examines liberal church efforts to divest from companies doing business with Israel as part of a larger anti-Zionist campaign to weaken and delegitimise Israel. He notes that hostility to Israel in the mainline churches is confined to a focused minority, while the majority of liberal American Christians remain sympathetic to Israel. He highlights the fact that Jews and Christians have common strategic interests in the Middle East against Islamic intolerance and thus should forge alliances.



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 Stamler

Professor Leslie Wagner CBE

Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham


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