The Academic Friends of Israel

                                                                                          22 April 2007

Dear Colleagues

As many of you will be aware last week the British National Union Journalists [NUJ] at its annual meeting voted by a slim majority to “boycott Israeli goods.” The Union is quoted as saying they did this as a thank you to their Palestinian colleagues for supporting of their campaign to release the BBC journalist who was kidnapped in Gaza.  


What is noticeable is the similarity between the editorials and articles that have appeared condemning the NUJ’s boycott action and those that were written criticising NATFHE when it passed its boycott motion last year. Both unions have had a bad press and we can only hope that when other Trade unions debate similar boycott resolutions in the coming months that they think twice and reject them. The Palestinian Solidarity Movement which is behind these moves are hoping that if they can persuade several unions to support the boycott of Israeli goods, then The Trade Union Congress in which meets in September will endorse a boycott of Israel. In the 1980s the TUC led the boycott campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. Below you will find copies of the NUJ motion, the UK government’s response and Mishcon’s letter to the BBC.


The National Union of Teachers [NUT] however unlike the NUJ, at their annual conference at Easter, passed an amendment that pledged the union to "continue to work with the General Union of Palestinian Teachers and the Israel Teachers' Union."

Also included in this digest are; Rory Millers’ excellent piece about the similarities between the arguments used by current and past British anti-Zionists, Matthias Küntzel’s reflections on the cancellation of his Leeds University Lecture and Michael Yudkin’s article questioning if an academic boycott of Israel justified. There is also a statement from the Holocaust Educational Trust which denies the rumours that are circulating that the UK government is to remove Holocaust education from the schools curriculum, the annual report from the Stephen Roth Institute and details of an information website about the 1967 Six Day war.

There was also a mistake in the last AFI Digest. We attributed UCU motion In3 to London Metropolitan University whereas it was submitted by the University of East London.

Finally don’t forget to let us know who your UCU conference delegates are.

Ronnie Fraser


Academic Friends of Israel



1. The NUJ Boycott of Israeli Goods


The NUJ Boycott motion


UK Foreign Office comments on the NUJ boycott


Letter from Anthony Julius of Mishcon De Reya, Solicitors to the BBC regarding the NUJ boycott


Various reports and articles about the NUJ Boycott


2. No National Union of Teachers boycott call


3. British Anti-Zionism Then and Now, By Rory Miller


4. Matthias Küntzel “Freedom of Expression" at Leeds University


5. Academic Freedom and Anti-Racism on British University Campuses

    by Shalom Lappin


6. Is an academic boycott of Israel justified? - Michael Yudkin

7. Statement from the Holocaust Education Trust

8. The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism    

     and Racism at Tel Aviv University 2006 Annual Report

9. Website for the fortieth anniversary of the war of "The Six-Day War”


1. The NUJ Boycott of Israeli Goods


The NUJ Boycott motion


The full text of the NUJ boycott motion has not yet been published. It was composited from two original motions and two amendments. These are the two source motions that were combined to form the boycott motion.

No 37

ADM condemns the savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon by Israel.

ADM notes that the vast majority of those killed in 2006 have been Lebanese together with Palestinians in the Israeli occupied territories.

ADM therefore instructs the NEC to continue to support the work of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign including the organisation of boycotts of Israeli goods, similar to those boycotts in the struggle against apartheid South Africa.

No 38

This ADM condemns the slaughter of civilians by Israeli troops in Gaza and the IDF’s continued attacks inside Lebanon following the defeat of its army by Hezbollah.

This ADM calls for the end of Israeli aggression in Gaza and other occupied territories.

This ADM calls for a boycott of Israeli goods led by trade unions and the TUC to demand sanctions be imposed on Israel by the British government and the United Nations.

This ADM instructs the NEC to support organisations including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice in Palestine and the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding and others in encouraging twinning with journalist and media unions and workplaces to build direct links in the West Bank and Gaza.

UK Foreign Office comments on the NUJ boycott of Israeli goods


Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells today commented:


'I was disappointed to hear that on 13 April 2007 the National Union of Journalists (NJU) voted to boycott goods from Israel. The Government believes that, as a friend of both Israel and the Palestinians, we can best exert influence by encouraging both sides to take the steps needed for progress toward peace through close engagement.


'The National Union of Journalists is, of course, an independent organisation. The Government values freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and would not seek to interfere in the NUJ's internal discussions. But we disagree with their decision to boycott Israeli goods.'


Letter from Anthony Julius of Mishcon De Reya, Solicitors to the BBC regarding the NUJ boycott


To: Chitra Bharucha, Acting Chair, the BBC Trust

Dear Madam,

National Union of Journalists

We write on behalf of Mr. Adrian Cohen and several other individuals (whose names can be supplied upon request) in respect of the resolution recently passed by the National Union of Journalists (the "NUJ") calling for a boycott of Israeli goods as part of a protest against last year's war in Lebanon, and for sanctions to be imposed on Israel……………….

To read the full text go to:


Various reports and articles about the NUJ Boycott

UK reporters union to boycott Israel, George Conger, Jerusalem Post 14 April 2007

NUJ votes to boycott Israeli goods, Stephen Brook, Guardian 13 April 2007,,2056882,00.html

Boycotting the boycotters, By Sean Gannon, Haaretz, 20/4/07

Neither balanced nor fair, The Guardian Leader, April 20, 2007,,,2061803,00.html

NUJ under fire for Israel boycott, Stephen Brook, April 19, 2007,,,2060331,00.html

Why the NUJ's boycott of Israeli goods is a mistake, Guardian, 19/4/07

Guardian Unlimited, Thursday April 19 2007, Stephen Brook

Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian, has condemned the National Union of Journalists' motion calling for a boycott of Israeli goods, telling an Israeli newspaper the move is "misguided". 

NUJ Israel boycott 'misguided', says Rusbridger


2. No NUT boycott call


The Jewish Chronicle


Rachel Fletcher


Criticism of Israel at this week's National Union of Teachers' conference in Harrogate did not extend to calls for an academic boycott.

A motion moved on Monday by Ray Sirotkin of the Lambeth branch condemned Israel's bombing of Lebanon last summer and the withholding of funds to the Hamas government. It criticised the "continuing attacks on the Gaza strip, including the use of sonic booms and the continuing and undemocratic harassment of Hamas MPs and representatives". The motion further congratulated the executive for supporting activities by the Palestinian Solidarity Movement and the Stop the War Coalition.

Amendments to the motion which noted Palestinian casualties, supported the Palestinian right of return and called for affiliation with Bir Zeit University's Right to Education campaign fell. An amendment that passed pledged the union to "continue to work with the General Union of Palestinian Teachers and the Israel Teachers' Union."

Steve Scott of Trade Union Friends of Israel, who attended the conference to run a stall, said it was a "good step to keep the doors open" by working with the ITU. He was encouraged that no boycott motion had been tabled. ITU representatives were also at the conference.

3. British Anti-Zionism Then and Now, By Rory Miller

Convenant 2, Issue 1 (April 2007 / Iyar 5767) Article 3/9

Though separated by over half a century and many differences in the cultural, political and technological environments in which they have operated, a close examination of the facts makes it apparent that today's British anti-Zionists and today's British anti-Zionist bodies share many characteristics with their predecessors who were active in opposing Zionist aspirations in the years prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. This article draws out these similarities, in particular the common arguments that both current and past British anti-Zionists have used to demonize and de-legitimize Zionism. It then examines how this little noted phenomenon throws light on the motives and objectives of today's anti-Zionist activists……….

To read the complete a essay go to


4. Matthias Küntzel “Freedom of Expression" at Leeds University

On March 14, 2007 my lecture at Leeds University on Islamic Antisemitism was abruptly cancelled. On March 31, in response to my official complaint, I received the first written explanation. This letter was signed by the University's Vice-Chancellor Prof. Arthur and by the University's Secretary, Mr. Gair.

The Vice-Chancellor and the Secretary stated that they "very much regret the cancellation... and acknowledge that there are lessons to learn for the future, especially about the lines of internal communication within the University. However, we do not consider, even with the benefit of hindsight, that there was in the circumstances any alternative to cancelling your public lecture…..

To read more go to:

5. Academic Freedom and Anti-Racism on British University Campuses

    by Shalom Lappin


The recent controversies over the cancellation of Matthias Küntzel’s invited lecture at Leeds, and Ilan Pappe’s appointment to a chair in the Department of History at the University of Exeter raise disturbing questions concerning academic freedom and protection from racial, ethnic, and religious bigotry on Britain’s university campuses. These need to be clarified and addressed carefully……….

To read more go to:


6. Is an academic boycott of Israel justified? By Michael Yudkin

The principle of the Universality of Science and Learning – that academics do not discriminate against colleagues on the basis of factors that are irrelevant to their academic work (such as race, religion, nationality etc.) – is well established and almost universally respected. To boycott academics by reason of their country of residence breaches this principle and harms the interests of the academics concerned. Two kinds of argument speak in favour of maintaining the principle of the Universality of Science and Learning: 1) that undesirable consequences would flow from violating it, and 2) that to harm people who are innocent of wrongdoing is morally unacceptable. Those who wish to boycott Israeli academics attempt to defeat the second type of argument by claiming that these academics are complicit in discrimination against the Arab minority in Israel or the occupation of the West Bank, and/or that Israeli universities suppress dissenting voices. Analysis of these claims shows that they are without serious substance………..


To read the complete essay:


7. Statement from the Holocaust Education Trust

16th April 2007

Dear Friend,

Over the past weeks there have been a number of rumours circulating via email regarding Holocaust education here in the UK. The emails suggest that the UK Government are removing Holocaust education from the National Curriculum and that in general British schools steer away from teaching what they might consider, a ‘controversial’ subject. We want to make it clear that our understanding is the Holocaust is and will continue to be on the National Curriculum and therefore continue to be taught in all UK schools.


These rumours stemmed from a piece that featured in a number of newspapers including the Daily Mail, Guardian and The Telegraph at the beginning of April. See the following links: ;,,2048161,00.html

The news stories came about as a result of a report commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills (DFES) and undertaken by the Historical Association. The report, 'Challenges and Opportunities for Teaching Emotive and Controversial History 13-19 (TEACH)', addresses both the challenges teachers face, as well as the good practice that is occurring when teaching all emotive and controversial historical issues such as: Slavery, the Crusades and the Holocaust. The full TEACH report is available on the HA website:

In light of this story the Holocaust Educational Trust would like to clarify what to our knowledge is the situation in the UK.

Holocaust Education in the UK:

  • The Holocaust became part of the National Curriculum for History in 1991. It is statutory for all students in England and Wales to learn about the Holocaust at Key Stage 3 usually in Year 9 History (aged 13 -14).
  • Many students will study the Holocaust in Religious Studies, English and Citizenship lessons.
  • The UK holds a national Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th (marking the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau), and this is marked widely in primary and secondary schools across the country.
  • The UK has a permanent Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London, visited by 1000s of people each year.
  • The British Government sponsors two students (16 - 18 year olds) per secondary school/ further education college to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau through the Holocaust Educational Trusts Lessons from Auschwitz Programme (This is due to a £1.5 million grant from the Government every year from 2006-2008)
  • School groups and private individuals visit the permanent Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, the Jewish Museum, London, and The Holocaust Centre, Beth Shalom in Newark and educational establishments work with resources and educational programmes provided by other important organisations such as the Anne Frank Trust (UK), London Jewish Cultural Centre, and the Wiener Library.
  • Teacher training ensures that 100s of newly qualified teachers are provided with skills and materials to ensure effective Holocaust education for their students.
  • Existing teachers participate in training around the UK, and specialist programmes run by Holocaust education organisations including the Holocaust Educational Trust, Imperial War Museum and Beth Shalom.

Within the TEACH report from the Historical Association, there is one particular line relating to Holocaust education which has been the focus of the press and various alarmed emails. It features in the section addressing why teachers avoid teaching certain subjects and states: ‘.. a history department in a northern city recently avoided selecting the Holocaust as a topic for GCSE coursework for fear of confronting anti-Semitic (sic) sentiment and Holocaust denial among some Muslim pupils’. (p 15)

The key points regarding this statement are:

  • This does not refer to Holocaust education on the National Curriculum - it is a post- 14 History GCSE course (publicly examined course)
  • History at GCSE is not compulsory (only a 1/3 of pupils opt for history post-14)
  • This is an anecdotal response from one teacher in one school out of 4500 secondary schools in the UK. While we cannot say what happens in every single school, our understanding is that this is highly unusual and not general practice of teachers around the country.
  • All schools can choose which history topics they wish to study for coursework at GCSE level.
  • There is no suggestion that this or any other school is failing to cover the National Curriculum in teaching about the Holocaust at Key Stage 3, Year 9 (age 13 - 14).

At no point does the report from the Historical Association suggest that the Holocaust be removed from the National Curriculum for England and Wales.

Obviously we and all Holocaust related organisations in the UK take this very seriously, however on this occasion we want to allay all fears and impress upon everyone that the Holocaust is not being removed from the National Curriculum. This particular incident does of course merit further investigation but in no way represents all the good work in our schools across the country.

Please do circulate this far and wide to all who have shown an interest in this particular issue and Holocaust education in general here in the UK.

Should you require further information please do contact us at the Holocaust Educational Trust by emailing

With best wishes

Karen Pollock

Chief Executive
Holocaust Educational Trust
BCM Box 7892
London WC1N 3XX

Tel: 020 7222 6822
Fax: 020 7233 0161

8. The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University has published their 2006 Annual Report

A sharp escalation in physical, verbal and visual manifestations of antisemitism was recorded in 2006, marking a peak since 2000. All in all, about 590 cases of violence and vandalism were registered worldwide (compared to 406 in 2005), including major attacks perpetrated with a weapon and intent to kill (19 compared to 15 in

2005) and serious incidents of violence and vandalism aimed at Jewish persons, property and institutions (574 compared to 391 in 2005). It should be noted that the decrease in antisemitic violence between 2004 and 2005 (501 in 2004, the highest number since 2000, versus 406 in 2005) gave rise to cautious hope……….


To read the report in full go to:

 9. Website for the fortieth anniversary of the war of "The Six Day War

2007 marks the fortieth anniversary of the war of "The Six Day War". A new website captures the feelings of the time - what the politicians were saying, and also the worries, feelings and responses of ordinary people caught up in the emergency.

The site is an excellent resource for journalists, MPs, teachers, students, and anyone who wants to know what triggered a lightning war with an unexpected result.





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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