The Academic Friends of Israel
26 June 2007
UCU Boycott news
Have you asked your Universities or Colleges to issue a statement condemning an academic boycott of Israel? Don’t forget to pass their responses back to us.
So far we only know of three out of 105 UK Universities who have issued a statement on a boycott. The Russell group and the 1994 group have issued statements on behalf of their 43 members, but we need declarations from each of the Universities in the UK. At present we have more statements from American and Canadian universities than British Universities.
Don’t leave it to others, ask your University Vice Chancellor for a statement.
The UCU National Executive committee [NEC] met on June 8th and discussed the various boycott motions approved by Congress. It was agreed that the road show with Palestinian and Israeli academics would start in the autumn term with debates at some larger institutions or on a regional basis. The UCU General secretary Sally Hunt told the executive that she had already contacted the appropriate organisations. No decision was made as to what would happen after the road show.
The UCU Left in the meantime has issued a statement stating that:
1. They oppose any attempt to go over the heads of the democratically elected bodies of the union, the National Executive Committee and the National Congress.
2. They oppose to any attempt that might be made to peremptorily ‘resolve’ this issue which would involve bypassing UCU’s democratic structures or undermining properly-constituted decisions made at Annual Congress by branch delegates.
Depending on the response from the road show the NEC could then either refer the matter to next year’s Congress or they could agree to Sally Hunt’s proposal to ballot members on the issue assuming she asks for NEC approval for a ballot in the first place. With the UCU Left opposed to a ballot and also holding nearly 50% of the seats, will she be willing to take the risk of being defeated on the issue?
Our long term aim should be to build a presence at next years congress either by providing our own delegates or through alliances with others who are opposed to a boycott. This is the challenge for the coming year……volunteers please step forward.
Last month I attended a Peace Now UK event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the six day war. Taking part were four former Middle East peace negotiators, two Israeli and two Palestinian. I asked them if the boycott calls would have any effect on peace negotiations. The overwhelming response from both sides was”NO”; the British Trade Unions are wasting their time and effort.
UNISON, the UK's largest trade union, representing over 1.3 million members working in the public sector, private contractors and the utilities, voted at its annual conference in Brighton on 20 June by a majority of roughly 4-1, to support the campaign to boycott Israel, stating:
"Conference believes that ending the occupation demands concerted and sustained pressure upon Israel including an economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott".
Other demands in the motion include “Conference continues to consider that a just solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict must be based upon international law and Israel should allow the refugees of 1948 to return home,”
The motion 53 can be found at: http://cms.unison.co.uk/MotionText.asp?DocumentID=997416
Unless there is a crisis in the Middle East this will be the last digest until September.
Academic Friends of Israel
Anti Boycott Statements
Oxford University: Statement on UCU discussions on a potential boycott of Israeli academic institutions
PEN American Center Urges Rejection of Academic Boycotts
President Fuhrman (TC, Columbia) Responds to Proposed Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions
Statement by University of California President Robert C. Dynes in response to British faculty union's proposed action against Israeli universities
Open letter by Nobel Laureates against the boycott, the Elie Wiesel foundation (attached)
Canada's university presidents are speaking out. The presidents of McGill, York University, the University of Montreal, Concordia University and the University of British Columbia are all taking a stand against the boycott (see first item in News).
UNESCO Chief Voices Concern Over Potential Boycott of Academic Institutions
Rector of the University of Montreal has issued a statement opposed to the boycott. This is important, as the University of Montreal is one of the largest Francophone universities in Canada. http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/June2007/22/c8236.html
President Joel Adds YU's Name to List of Israeli Universities Boycotted by Britain's University and College Union
On the autonomy of universities: Lorna R. Marsden, president & vice-chancellor of York University, issued the following statement:
Open University statement on the proposed boycott of Israeli universities
In a personal email, Open University Professor B M Gourley said (15/6/07): "On a personal note, I do not support the proposed boycott."
In a personal email (8/6/07), Professor Deian Hopkin, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, London South Bank University said: "Frankly, the vote by UCU was a disgrace not simply because of its clear exceptionalism but because of its inherent inconsistency. If we boycott countries who occupy others, where does this leave the UK itself which, according to many experts, entered Iraq illegally? And we deal and trade with countries who have long occupied territory once held by others - perhaps we should stop trading with China because of the issue of Tibet. The reality is that we have to be realistic and pragmatic, and above all maintain dialogue. The problems of the Middle East will not be resolved by excluding people"…
"…I hope this reassures you that we, at this university, will not countenance any actions of the kind encouraged by the UCU vote. Nor will we tolerate unacceptable behaviour on our own campus".
Continue to ask colleagues to vote against the academic boycott at the NewStatesman Poll . On 24/6 72% voted for the boycott and 28% against it. Today: 33 % are for the boycott and 67 % against it. http://www.newstatesman.com/polls/864
SPME Petition by Dershowitz, 20 Nobel Laureates and 20 College Presidents: An International Call To Academics and Professionals To Stand In Solidarity With Our Israeli Academic and Professional Colleagues petition : 6,149 signatures by academics
Stop the Academic Boycott of Israel Petition to UCU – 24,941 Total Signatures
ISRAEL21c has created this special document with facts and figures, and links to stories and reports that will help anyone show how valuable Israel's academics and universities are to the world.
Canada's academics condemn boycott, JP
House of Lords Debate on Universities: Anti-Semitism and the Boycott, the full transcript can be read at
Why the call for an academic boycott is not a call for a debate
House of Lord Debate on boycott: academic understanding of issues needs to include theological understanding of Jewish aspirations
British Jewry in crisis, By ISI LEIBLER, JP
Ordering a Counter-Boycott, By HILLEL HALKIN, NYSUN http://www.nysun.com/article/57280
'Jews worldwide should fight back', JP
Human rights under assault, By IRWIN COTLER, JP
It is crazy to boycott Israeli academics. It is the mother of all own goals, Tim Hames http://www.thetablet.co.uk/articles/9931/
My Day in Court, http://www.israpundit.com/2006/?p=5128
Which academic values does the British boycott wish to protect?, By Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D. http://web.israelinsider.com/Views/11565.htm
Go ahead, Brits: throw away your Israeli products, By Joel Leyden http://web.israelinsider.com/Views/11550.htm
An open letter to General Secretary, The International Trade Union Confederation, by Maurice Ostroff - full text below
Manchester anti -boycott public meeting. Jul 8th. , Zionist Central Council and the Manchester Jewish Representative Council- full text below
The Jewish Labour Movement Press release: British Minister pledges additional action against boycott of Israel– Full text below.
UNISON approves watered-down boycott of Israel
British labor union okays Israel boycott
UK minister pledges to fight boycott
Good to Know
Israeli scientists unveil mini-robot that can travel through bloodstream
Music from two worlds
FULL TEXT: An open letter to General Secretary, The International Trade Union Confederation , by Maurice Ostroff
To Mr. Guy Ryder
General Secretary, The International Trade Union Confederation Copy to the President, Ms. Sharan , Burrow June 25, 2007
Dear Mr. Ryder,
From your report on the 2006 Annual Survey of the International Confederation of Free trade unions, it is alarming to learn of violations of workers' rights in as many as 137 countries and that trade unionists are met in many places with harassment, imprisonment, torture and even assassination.
One can read only with distress, the intolerable story of the 115 activists murdered because of legitimate trade union activities, in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and the Middle East and about the 80 labour leaders assassinated in Colombia as well as restrictions on freedom of association in Burma, Belarus, Iran and Zimbabwe.
Against this background, the phenomenon of British trade unions narrowly focusing a boycott campaign only against Israel, while deliberately ignoring the awful conditions in other countries is blatantly unjust and lopsided. Their lack of even a semblance of balance sullies the reputation of the entire trade union movement, reflecting unfairly on your confederation, its 309 affiliated organisations and the 166 million workers it represents. The blatant prejudice exhibited by the minority casts serious doubt on their, and by association, your objectivity.
It is paradoxical that while Israel is singled out, the boycotters seem unconcerned, for example, about the two rockets recently fired by Palestinians into the house of the Deputy Secretary General of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions, Rasem Al Bayari, who directly blames the Palestinian authorities. He reports that Palestinian trade unionists are regularly shot at by the police when holding demonstrations in support of workers' rights, quoting the example of 13 workers killed by police in October-November 2006 at a demonstration calling for payment of wages.
By contrast, in Israel, the Histadrut and other workers' organizations whose members are drawn from all sections regardless of religion, race or gender are completely unfettered by the Israel government, even when mounting general strikes that threaten to disrupt the economy. Surely this calls for encouragement, rather than boycotts by fellow trade unions.
The boycotters cannot be unaware of the atrocious conditions in many countries as enumerated in your report and journalists who support the NUJ boycott exhibit obvious prejudice, failing as they do, to report events in their context. Concerned citizens find it scary that these journalists who exert a powerful influence on our lives impose their prejudices on the public.
Similarly, it is scary to realize how students are exposed to teachers who, by subscribing to the UCU boycott, dismally fail the test of intellectual honesty, a test that requires that all available facts be taken into account, including those that may contradict preconceived opinions.
May one hope that in the interests of preserving the good reputation of ITUC, your organization will publicly dissociate itself from the ill-considered, inequitable calls by individual trade unions to boycott Israel.
Your considered response will be appreciated,
Manchester anti -boycott public meeting 8 July 2007
Zionist Central Council and the Manchester Jewish Representative Council
PUBLIC MEETING - BOYCOTT BRIEFING, Sunday 8th JULY, 2007 at 8pm, Mamlock House ; For security, RSVP ZCC : 0161 740 8835 by 4th July
*Lorna Fitzsimons, CEO BICOM, jointly spearheading the STOP THE BOYCOTT CAMPAIGN
*Ronnie Fraser, Founder and Director, ACADEMIC FRIENDS of ISRAEL
*Doreen Gerson, Executive VC, TRADE UNION Friends of Israel
*Richard Gold, North West Organiser, ENGAGE
*Joy Wolfe, National Union of JOURNALSTS
Chairman : Lucille Cohen, ZCC President
Vote of thanks: Barbara D. Goldstone, MJRC president ;
Lucille Cohen , M: 07738 635 510 Pls reply to both: Mob E: firstname.lastname@example.org ; E: email@example.com
Full text: The Jewish Labour Movement Press release: British Minister pledges additional action against boycott of Israel.
Bill Rammell, the Minister of State for Higher Education, reiterated the opposition of the British Government to any academic boycott of Israel and pledged additional action to develop relations with Israeli and Palestinian academics at a meeting with Louise Ellman MP and other members of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) held on Monday 18th June.
Mr Rammell said that there was no justification for singling out Israel with a campaign of boycotts. Such a campaign was inherently discriminatory and threatened to undermine social cohesion. Education is a tool for increasing awareness and drawing people together. An academic boycott would drive people further apart and would not assist the peace process
Mr Rammell described the proposed seminar of Israeli, Palestinian and British academics to be hosted by his department and invited the input of the JLM.
He explained Universities UK (UUK) had clearly opposed a boycott and this was made clear by Drummond Bone, President of UUK, when he accompanied Bill Rammell on his visit to Israel. Bill Rammell confirmed that his department would continue to build better community cohesion through anti-racist and multi-faith education at all levels (FE, HE and Continuing Education) and by working across government departments.
Other members of the JLM delegation were Judith Bara, Henry Smith, Adrian Cohen and Alon Or-bach.
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
Dr Robin Stamler
Professor Leslie Wagner CBE
Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham
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