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The Academic Friends of Israel
    The Academic Friends of Israel

24 July 2007

 

Dear Colleagues,

 

Israeli Minister of Education Yuli Tamir was recently in London where she met the New Minister of Education Ed Balls who assured her that he is against the boycott. This was the first anti-boycott stand from the new UK government. She also met with the Russell group of Universities and Universities UK (UUK) who assured her that they are against the boycott. They also decided to expand scientific cooperation between the UK and Israel which is to start with a visit of the Russell group to Israel.

 

Around the same time the EU and Israel signed the Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7), which runs from 2007 to 2013. Israel was the first non-European country to be associated with the European Community’s Framework Programme for Research and Technical Development. Israel's special status is the result of its very high level of scientific competence of both its academics and Universities. They are premier league and everyone wants to work with the best, which is why 60% of British Universities already have contacts and joint programmes with Israeli Universities.

 

Israel's financial contribution to the Framework programmes is calculated on the basis of its GNP compared to the total GNP of all the contributing EU countries. In return Israel benefits from the same participation rights as any EU Member State. Israel has contributed to the latest programme 191 Million Euros and has participated in around 750 projects within the latest framework programme; of which at least 200 included British partners and the rest involve partners throughout the EU and other countries associated with the programme.

 

You may remember that the UCU passed a motion at its recent Congress committing to the Union to campaign for a moratorium of EU funding for programmes such as this. The only loser in all of this if the boycotters succeed will be British academia.

 

The Stop the Boycott campaign has published a poll of 500 UCU members at 200 institutions which found that 75% of the UCU members questioned who have an opinion on the issue oppose a boycott; 81% of the members believed that a ballot of all UCU members is the best way to make a decision on a boycott and 87% of members would support such a membership ballot if Sally Hunt called one.

 

What the figures don’t say is how many of the UCU members were former AUT or NATFHE members which would have a bearing on the results. The worrying figure is that 25% of members are in favour of a boycott which although it is higher than previous polls it is still a worry and something we need to work on.

 

According to this week’s Jewish Chronicle, the leaders of Anglo Jewry want to spend over the next year an additional one million pounds in fighting the Israel boycott campaign. This has to be good news as any extra money that is spent on hasbara has to be welcomed. However bearing in mind that the academic boycott of Israel campaign is now in its sixth year and still shows no sign of going away, a lot more money than that will be needed if hearts and minds are to be changed which certainly won’t happen overnight or in a campaign which lasts only one year.

 

The British Medical Journal of the British Medical Association, which has issued a statement against the boycott, is conducting an anonymous online poll on boycotting Israel aimed primarily at physicians, academics and researchers, but is accepting votes from the general public.

 

Please take a moment to go to the poll to vote NO at
http://www.surveymk.com//s.aspx?sm=zrDgLYed7wn_2fe_2bcR2lC4Pw_3d_3d

 

Earlier this year a small group of 135 UK doctors (out of 140,000) called on the BMA to promote a boycott of the Israel Medical Association which was also not supported by the BMA.

 

A reminder if you haven’t already done so, please sign the SPME statement in solidarity with Israeli academics and the Stop the Academic Boycott of Israel Petition to UCU, details of which are below.

 

Finally, I was given last week a copy of the Israeli-Palestinian public health magazine "Bridges". This magazine is sponsored by the World Heath Organisation [WHO] and is written and produced jointly by Israeli and Palestinian academics and health professionals publicising joint projects and public heath programmes between the two communities. Projects like this have to be the way forward to beat the boycotters so try and get a copy of the magazine and see for yourself what can be done.

Ronnie Fraser

Director

Academic Friends of Israel  

 

 
 
 Headlines  
Academic Boycott-Head to head feature in British Medical Journal (21 July 2007; 335; pp.124-125):  
Should we consider a boycott of Israeli academic institutions? No, Michael Baum, professor emeritus of surgery
 Should we consider a boycott of Israeli academic institutions? Yes, Tom Hickey, chair of the University and Colleges Union, Brighton
Poll in the British Medical Journal: Should we consider a boycott of Israeli academic institutions?                                                                   
  Over 1,400 voted, Over 90% against the boycott.
See results at:
http://www.surveymk.com//sr.aspx?sm=YjRQ5iQLF0ztfNgS6yJKybK9QP6sRpQub7TJRKgEqMI_3d                                                                
Israel signs EU deal for scientific cooperation, By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH, JP
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1184585439408&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
Research deal defuses Israeli academic boycott threat, Natasha Gilbert, Monday July 16, 2007, EducationGuardian.co.uk http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/worldwide/story/0,,2127732,00.html 
Over 9,400 Academics join SPME's statement in solidarity with Israeli academics, including 32 Nobel Laureates and 45 University and Foundation Presidents. http://www.spme.net/cgi-bin/display_petitions.cgi?ID=9

Stop the Academic Boycott of Israel Petition to UCU – 26,073 Total Signatures
http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?stopucu
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) -- representing trade unions and trades councils from the whole island of Ireland -- have passed on July 6, two motions on Palestine including a commitment to "actively and vigorously" promote a policy of boycott and of divestment.  In Ireland, these motions join five motions on Palestinian solidarity that have already been unanimously passed by Northern Ireland's biggest trade union – NIPSA (Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance) on June 27 and that that contained a commitment to boycott and divestment. The text of both press releases is below.
Murphy’s resolution, essentially a formal condemnation by the U.S. House of Representatives to UCU's recent Israel academic boycott call, passed 414-0
 Read more at Congress slams UK academic boycott, JP, 12/7/07 http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1184168552181&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull  
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) called of the boycott on Israeli goods. How? NUJ asked the Trades Unions Congress (TUC) if they thought a boycott was a good idea. TUC said 'no, we oppose a boycott'. NUJ Executive published a motion saying they regard the TUC response as final and will not pursue the boycott issue any further. See also NEC unites over Israel Motion
Histadrut Resolution -Refuting Boycotts, passed at the 20th Histadrut Congress July 9, 2007 (full text below)  
Polls 
ADL poll: Classic anti-Semitic attitudes in Europe persist, By Haaretz Correspondent and Agencies, By Amiram Barkat http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/883342.html 
Anti-semitic feeling rising in Europe, survey finds http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,2128633,00.html 
Poll: 50% in U.K. think Jews more loyal to Israel than home nation By Haaretz Service 17/7/07http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/882922.html   
 Anti Boycott Statements 
US unions condemn boycott - Letter signed by over 25 US labor union heads 'questions motivation' of UK counterparts
U.S. Labor Leaders Blast British Union Israel Ban. View the Statement of Opposition to Divestment From or Boycotts of
Israel
http://www.jewishlaborcommittee.org/2007/07/statement_of_opposition_to_div.html President of black university (Dillard University) slams British boycott of Israeli academe By Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondent19/07/2007
Association of American Universities (AAU) urges defeat of proposed British Boycott of Israeli Universities
American Physiological Society Objects to Proposed Boycott of Israeli Academics
Statement by Principal Karen Hitchcock (Queen's University) on the academic boycott of Israeli universities being considered by Britain’s UCU
 University of Toronto president David Naylor expresses profound disagreement with UCU
University of Guelph (Canada) President Says Proposed Boycott Threatens Civil Society
President Sheldon Levy's (Ryerson University, Canada) statement on Britain's UCU  proposed academic boycott of Israeli universities, 9/7/07 http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/July2007/09/c4793.html 
Anglican Friends of Israel send a letter to all British theological training colleges expressing concern about boycott effects on Theological Colleges, 6/7/07
Simon Fraser University President Michael Stevenson (letter dated 10/7/07). In response to the call of the University and College Union of the UK for  consideration of a boycott of Israeli universities, I wish to state my clear disapproval of such a move. An academic boycott conflicts with the free exchange of ideas and research that is central to the mission of universities, and violates the principle of academic freedom. Such action might be justifiable in response to a state's action which stripped its universities of academic freedom, and to complicity in such action on the
part of its university administrations and faculty. Clearly, complexities and ambiguities surround empirical arguments of this kind, as recent discussion in the Senate of Simon Fraser University has indicated. However, whatever one's position on other issues in that county or region, I do not believe that such criticisms can be made of the state of Israel, and Israeli universities share our commitment to the fundamental value of academic freedom. I call for all who subscribe to this value to oppose the proposed boycott of Israeli universities.
 
University of Arizona President Robert Shelton spoke out against a boycott of Israel made by members of Britain's University and College Union in protest of Israel's policies on Palestine. http://media.wildcat.arizona.edu/media/storage/paper997/news/2007/07/18/News/Shelton.Speaks.Out.Against.Israel.Boycott-2924843.shtml 
Poly's (Polytechnic University) President joins other academic leaders in opposing call for boycott - July 19, 2007
University of Pennsylvania President Statement Opposing the Boycott was also distributed in Almanac magazine, July 17, 2007, Volume 54, No. 1
News 
Increase in Anti-Semitic Violence Troubles Jews in Britain, Fox News, Friday, July 20, 2007
Academic freedom needs to come first: Canadian universities react to proposed academic boycott, Sara Hanson News Assistant, July 19, 2007 
 Anti-Zionism by 'progressive' Jews, Noa Levanon, YNET Ynet news interviews Professor Alvin Rosenfeld, author of controversial article that noted growing trend of rhetoric resembling 'anti-Zionist hate speech employed by the worst anti-Semites' among progressive Jewish academics
Read Rosenfeld's article 'Progressive' Jewish thought and the new anti-Semitism at:
Gordon Brown tells British Zionists he always loved Israel, By Redress Information & Analysis, 18 July 2007
Gordon Brown appoints Israel apologists to oversee British media, By Redress Information & Analysis, 18 July 2007
Parliament discusses Anti-Semitism Thursday 19 July 2007[Sir John Butterfill in the Chair]http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm070719/halltext/70719h0001.htm#070719106000004 Boycott battle to cost £1m a year, 20/07/2007, By Bernard Josephs, JC
Calls grow for boycott of Israel, Ed O'Loughlin, July 14, 2007, The Age, Australia
THE Dutch Government has warned a Rotterdam company to stop supplying construction equipment for Israel's 700-kilometre Palestinian separation barrier, a new turn in the international campaign to boycott Israel.
Howard Jacobson: Those who boycott Israeli universities are doing intellectual violence - to themselves, The Independent, 14/7/07
 Call for football ban as NUJ drops its boycott, 13/07/2007, By David Gold and Bernard Josephs, JC
Academic boycotts are not enough by Mark Klusener, Haaretz
Boycott opponents hit back with big London meet, JP, 12/7/07
American university professors find academic fireworks in Israel, July 12, 2007
Laboring the Boycott, Ben Cohen, July 9th
Methodists for Divestment, FrontPageMagazine.com, 6/7/07
Boycott gathers pace as friends fall away, 14/7/07, The Sydney Morning Herald
 Israel Academic Boycott threatens Academic Freedom
Israel Academic Boycott: Principles versus political reactions
Leebron reflects on trip to Israel, 13/7/2007, Rice News Staff    http://www.media.rice.edu/media/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=9778 
Watch The War on British Jews Documentary by which Richard Littlejohn, Channel 4, July 9th 2007 (6 parts)
The new anti-Semitism: How the Left reversed history to bring Judaism under attack, Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail, 6th July 2007
"The War on British Jews" stirs Tempest on Tube By Tom Gross  July 12, 2007
Speaking in extremes: Richard Littlejohn's focus on extreme examples of anti-semitism meant he missed the more subtle challenges faced by Jews in Britain.
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/david_cesarani/2007/07/speakingin_extremes.html A war on rationality: If Channel 4 is seriously concerned about antisemitism, it shouldn't have chosen Richard Littlejohn to present a programme about it.
Pro-Boycott article Israel's Apartheid, Haim Bresheeth, July 2007, Prospect Magazinehttp://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?&id=9697 
 Good to know  Hebrew U. Institute of Advanced Studies accepted into international ‘Ivy League’ of advanced institutes
 Full Text's 
Histadrut Resolution -Refuting Boycotts, which passed at the 20th Histadrut Congress on July 9, 2007
 Histadrut Resolution –Refuting Boycotts 
1.        Out of belief in solidarity among trade unions in general, and the Israeli and Palestinian trade unions in particular, we strongly express our utter objection towards imposing any sort of boycott from any trade union that may directly or indirectly harm employees throughout the globe, regardless of religion, race, sex and nationality; 
2.      The Histadrut Congress rejects any attempt by a trade union to impose a boycott against the State of Israel, the Histadrut, or the Israeli employees and employers. Any sort of boycott, either as a means or as a goal is an utterly invalid act and it is an attempt to undermine the efforts to achieve a real peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. This Congress believes that the actions for peace should be conducted through a policy of negotiations and discussions and not by actions of intimidations and boycotts. The efforts for peace should be made through positive actions and fair mediation rather than tempestuous declarations and a one-sided attitude, as proposed in the resolutions of UNISON and the T&GWU in Great Britain.  
3.      The Histadrut views the purpose of the boycott towards the Israeli trade unions and academic institutions an illegitimate means, which basically contradicts the spirit of fraternity, cooperation and solidarity, which is a guiding light for every trade union throughout the world, creates unnecessary tension and substantially damages to the relations and co-existence between the Israeli and Arab unions in general, and the Palestinian trade unions, in particular.  
4.      The Histadrut Congress is committed to strengthen its relations with trade unions and confederations throughout the world in general and the Palestinian trade unions in particular. Furthermore, the Congress calls on worldwide trade unions to support the enhancement of relations with our Palestinian colleagues, despite the harsh political-security situation that the Israeli and Palestinian peoples face, out of the belief that strengthening the relations between us will be an example and a model for the leadership in the region in order to achieve a comprehensive and viable peace;  
5.      The Histadrut Congress will not hesitate to break off its relations with any organization or trade union throughout the world which will support the imposing of a boycott that may harm Israeli employees and employers.    
 Irish Congress of Trade Unions calls for boycott and divestment
Press Release, Trade Union Friends of Palestine, 6 July 2007

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) -- representing trade unions and trades councils from the whole island of Ireland -- have today passed two motions on Palestine that are extremely critical of the actions of the Israeli government in its oppression of the Palestinian people. The two motions condemn Israel for its human rights abuses, its policy of ethnic cleansing and its war crimes. The motions have been proposed by Belfast Trades Council and by Derry Trades Council. Both motions go into considerable detail about the suffering endured by the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation. Conference also criticizes the British and Irish governments and the European Union for the failed policy of "constructive engagement." It characterizes EU policy as one of as "appeasement," and in particular criticises the EU for failing to end the preferential trading status granted to Israel under the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement -- as it is formally obligated to do under the human rights clause in Article 2 of that agreement.

In voting for the motions Conference has not only brought to the attention of the world the massive and enduring injustices being carried out by the Israeli state and by those who collude with it -- companies such as Caterpillar and Irish Cement Road holdings -- but it has also authorized the leadership of the Irish trade union movement to undertake a wide range of measures to oppose such oppressive actions and to register its solidarity. These include a commitment to "actively and vigorously" promote a policy of boycott and of divestment, to make direct representations to government and to the EU, and to mobilize EU-wide trade union solidarity action. Conference also called upon ICTU to send a senior delegation to the Palestinian territories to establish solidarity links. It also welcomed the establishment by ICTU of Trade Union Friends of Palestine.

The ICTU is the largest mass organization of the Irish working class. It represents all sections of labor -- from low-paid to senior management -- and all sectors of industry and employment. At its last Biennial Delegate Conference in 2005 the ICTU commited itself to "campaign in solidarity with the Palestinian people." In its actions today conference has put meat on the bones of that policy. It is highly significant and it should be noted that there was no opposition at all to any of the motions, despite the fact that they represent what must be one of the strongest positions adopted by any trade union congress in the world. Today's conference has thereby demonstrated that all sections of the Irish working class and of Irish civil society continue to be appalled at the inhumanity of Israeli state policy. It demonstrates that the people of Ireland -- north and south -- are steadfast in their commitment to stand in solidarity alongside their long-suffering and heroic Palestinian brothers and sisters. http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article7103.shtmlhttp://www.eutopic.lautre.net/coordination/spip.php?article2307
Boycott and divestment gains ground in Northern Ireland, Press Release, NIPSA, 27 June 2007Northern Ireland's biggest trade union, the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance, unanimously passed all five motions on Palestinian solidarity discussed at the 2007 annual delegate conference.
These motions contained :Severe condemnation of Israel, ; A commitment to boycott and divestment and;  Support for Trade Union Friends of Palestine and the Enough campaign against Israeli Occupation.
NIPSA has been at the forefront of the campaign within the trade union movement in Northern Ireland to raise awareness of the Palestinian cause. The motions were proposed by the union's own leadership as well as by three other union branches. All five motions were passed unanimously without a single opposing speaker. The lack of opposition, amendments or even statements of qualification shows that a major shift of consciousness has taken place and that public sympathy in Northern Ireland is now overwhelmingly on the side of the Palestinian people.
Motions included praise of NIPSA's position of supporting the establishment of Trade Union Friends of Palestine (TUFP), an organization that has been formed by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to promote the ICTU policy of "campaigning in solidarity with the Palestinian people."
Conference called upon all NIPSA branches to work closely with TUFP. Conference also pledged active NIPSA support for the establishment in Northern Ireland of a broad-based Enough solidarity campaign involving a coalition of all those opposed to Israeli injustice, including trade unions, churches, political parties, human rights organizations and other NGOs.
The NIPSA conference condemned the collective punishment and blackmail of the Palestinian people by both the USA and the European Union in cutting off financial aid to the Palestinian Authority following the election victory of Hamas. It also condemned Israel for illegally withholding Palestinian tax revenues and for their "horrendous military assaults."
Conference agreed that it was "outrageous that the Palestinian people should be forced to recognize as legitimate" an Israeli state that had defied numerous UN resolutions. This detailed resolution went on to claim that the policies of the Israeli government were akin to those of Apartheid South Africa. It therefore called for the same type of response from the trade union movement -- a boycott of Israeli goods. The motion finally called for an investigation of union investments to ensure that they did not contribute to the oppression of the Palestinian people.
Motion no.64 expressed outrage at the human rights abuses and atrocities carried out by the Israeli state, including:
·  Continued occupation and destruction of Palestinian lands ·  Continuing mass arrests, torture and extra-judicial killings ·  The horrific assaults on the population of Gaza ·  The illegal destruction of civilian infrastructure ·  The building of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem
Conference agreed to instruct its governing body, NIPSA General Council, to support divestment from Israeli companies and a boycott of Israeli goods and services. It instructed General Council to lobby the British and Irish governments to challenge the activities of the Israeli government towards the Palestinian people. It furthermore instructed the General Council to continue to support TUFP and the ICTU policy of Palestinian solidarity.
Speaking after the conference, Eamonn Mc Mahon, Trade Union Friends of Palestine referring to the broad based representative nature of NIPSA highlighted the significance of the motions passed
'Given that it is such a broad-based trade union, representative of all sections of the working population, the passing of these five motions is of great significance and indicates the strength of public opinion here in support of the rights of the people of Palestine.'
NIPSA is a public sector union representing workers from low-paid to senior management grades throughout all public services in Northern Ireland, i.e., health services, social services, the civil service, education and housing. It represents workers from all sections of the community, in terms of religion, gender and politics.
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 Stamler
Professor 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.