The Academic Friends of Israel
4 July 2007
The UCU explains how they are going to deal with the Congress motions
The UCU today issued a circular explaining how they are going to deal with the Congress motions calling for a debate about an academic boycott of Israel.
It can be found at : http://www.ucu.org.uk/circ/rtf/ucu31.rtf
The main points are:
1. To ensure a fair and even handed debate; including the provision that any union expenditure to
support one side in the debate shall also be offered to the other.
2. To organise a series of regional debates in the autumn term including London, Glasgow, Cardiff,
Belfast, Birmingham, Manchester and a location to be chosen in the South West with the aim of concluding in time to report to a November 2007 meeting of the Executive Committee.
3. To Ensure legitimate representatives of organisations from both Israel and Palestine and on both sides of the debate are available to speak at the Regional meetings.
4. To issue guidance on holding fair and even handed debates to branches and associations who wish to hold local debates in addition to the regional meetings.
6. The union encourages branches to seek members’ views directly and in addition make it as easy as possible for members both to participate in the debates and to make their individual views known to the Executive.
7. The General Secretary to provide a report to the 2008 congress setting out the results of the
resolution 30 consultation.
Academic Friends of Israel comments:
We predicted the majority of the points in the circular in the last digest, however:
1. AFI wishes to remind everyone that by distributing the Palestinian Campaign for an Academic and
Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), the UCU will be party to the PACBI call for the dismantling of the State of Israel which clearly states that Israel created the Palestinian refugee problem and demands their right to return as well as claiming Israel is an apartheid state.
2. Last week AFI wrote to Sally Hunt asking in the interests of fairness that as well as distributing
the full text of the Palestinian boycott call to all members, the UCU should also distribute literature putting Israel’s view of events and the arguments against academic boycotts in general. We also asked for an assurance that meetings will not be held either on Friday evenings, Saturdays or on any of the Jewish festivals in the autumn term.
The reply we received today said that branches will be advised to avoid meetings on Fridays evenings, Saturdays or on any Jewish Festival day. Our other request was ignored and AFI will be writing to the UCU again on this matter. Since it is clear that the majority of the 120,000 members will not be attending the meetings and the union now wishes for a “fair and even handed debate” with speakers from both sides the UCU must honour this pledge and distribute literature opposing the boycott call.
3. The circular ignores motion 31 which calls on the union to campaign for a moratorium on EU funding for joint projects with Israel. As we have previously said a moratorium is a temporary suspension which is a boycott.
AFI calls on the union to reveal its plans regarding any campaign of this nature as it is important
that the membership and the general public be aware of the nature of any campaign.
4. Sally Hunt, the General Secretary, once again misses the opportunity to state her personal view on an academic boycott of Israel. Setting out one’s personal view to us means stating whether you support a boycott or not, not as she continually says “I support a ballot of the whole membership on the issue”. We like many others would like to know where she stands.
Sally Hunt’s comment “That I do believe our union has a vital role in supporting colleagues at risk and promoting education as the bedrock of democratic civil society in Colombia, in Zimbabwe, in Israel/Palestine and anywhere where these values are under threat” is astonishing.
Trade unionists may be threatened and free speech may be curbed in Colombia, Zimbabwe and even Palestine but to include Israel in her remarks is unworthy of the TUC’s spokesperson on international matters. Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East that embraces free speech regardless of political orientation; the views of Ilan Pappe and his colleagues are a prime example of this right.
AFI calls on Sally Hunt to immediately retract these comments and apologise to the Histadrut, the Israeli trade union body, and all trade unionists and academics in Israel.
5. With the announcement that The General Secretary is to present a report to the 2008 congress about the boycott debates, it now seems very unlikely that there will be a ballot of members.
6. It is clear that all those who are opposed to the boycott, especially UCU members will have to make their views count by writing to every member of the UCU executive next term. There is very little point in writing now as the current academic years has finished, so please wait until September when AFI will be issuing advice and email addresses.
Please let me know what you think?
Academic Friends of Israel
Boycott and divestment gains ground in Northern Ireland, Press Release, NIPSA, 27 June 2007 (full text below)
T&G urges a ban on Israeli goods, 29/06/2007, By Bernard Josephs
Anti Boycott Statements
London School of Economics (LSE) states against the Academic boycott
President of Toronto University condemns academic boycotts
Oxford aims to break boycott of Israeli academia
Oxford academics voice hostility on boycott, Anthea Lipsett, Friday June 29, 2007, EducationGuardian.co.uk
Boycott, shmoycott by Geoffrey Alderman, Jerusalem post http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1183459188024&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
Anger over Israel boycott
Anti-Americanism and Europe’s Anti-Israel Boycott
UK opinion-formers oppose boycott but don’t see it as racist
Christian anti-Zionist, Cath Palasz explains why she has changed her mind
An Academic Hijacking By Alan M. Dershowitz, Wall street Journal
The boycott of Israeli universities is no good for anyone
A bone-headed boycott, BY BENJAMIN POGRUND (needs subscription – full text below)
The Academic Ethicist, By LAWRENCE DOUGLAS and ALEXANDER GEORGE, CHE (needs subscription – full text below)
Want to help Israel? Help its Arab citizens
, By Paul Usiskin
Why This Obsession with the 'Jewish Lobby?'
SPME Petition by 23 Nobel Laureates and 22 College Presidents: An International Call To Academics and Professionals To Stand In Solidarity With Our Israeli Academic and Professional Colleagues petition: 6,588 signatures by academics
Stop the Academic Boycott of Israel Petition to UCU – 25,277 Total Signatures
Full Text: Boycott and divestment gains ground in Northern Ireland
Press Release, NIPSA, 27 June 2007
Northern 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.
Full Text: The Academic Ethicist, By LAWRENCE DOUGLAS and ALEXANDER GEORGE
Dear Academic Ethicist,
I am what you might call a "rising star" in the field of architectural history. Last year my book, Abstract Concrete, received the Rauschenberg Prize for best book on post-contemporary architecture. I was delighted — until I learned that the award was sponsored by the Hebrew University's School of Architecture, in Jerusalem. Needless to say, I immediately turned down the prize and the invitation to an award banquet at the university. Not only was I concerned that by accepting I would be imperiling relations with my colleagues and friends in the European architectural scene, but I was also worried that I might be sacrificing my chances of being published in Critical Inquiry and the London Review of Books. Compounding my ethical dilemma, I feared that by attending the dinner, I would be expressing moral support for, and deriving personal nutritional gain from, expansionist Zionist politics. To my shock, a couple of colleagues claimed I was behaving in an anti-Semitic fashion. Have I done anything wrong?
— Just Baffled
We believe you have behaved in an entirely appropriate fashion. The charge of anti-Semitism strikes us as so much hogwash. After all, there's a world of difference between attacking the Jewish people and attacking the state that serves as their global haven and guardian.
As part of the international community of scholars committed to the free exchange of ideas, you need to know when to say, "Enough is enough!" If you suspect that hobnobbing over hummus is a form of silencing and oppression, then it is your duty to cut such conversation off at the knees.
As you will no doubt receive more invitations and prizes, we believe it is critical that you have a moral compass that will steer you clear of ruinous moral compromise. As a general matter, we encourage scholarly exchange with universities in the Asian Pacific, except for those in China, which has a dismal history of human-rights abuses; or in Indonesia, implicated in genocidal activity in East Timor; or in Russia, up to its neck in war crimes in Chechnya; or in Thailand, which refuses to deal with its child-prostitution industry; or in India or Pakistan, both of which are acting badly over Kashmir; or in Japan, which continues to treat ethnic minorities as second-rate citizens and still hasn't faced up to its behavior during World War II; or in Nepal, which has taken a nasty turn to the despotic; or certainly all those universities in Australia, which remains tainted by its genocidal treatment of the Aborigines.
Europe is generally safe, though we counsel against working with colleagues in French universities, given the economic and social marginalization of minorities in France; or those in Dutch universities, in light of what we've learned about the much-vaunted "tolerance" of the Dutch in recent years; or in any universities in Britain, whose immigration policies border on the racist. Spain also is off limits, given its oppression of the Basques and the shadow of the Franco years; ditto for Portugal on account of its recent shameful past in Angola and Mozambique. Belgium remains a human-rights toxic-waste dump since the days of King Leopold. Poland — puh-leeze. Iceland has begun hunting whales again. Switzerland has yet to come clean about its secret cozying up to the Nazis. Serbia — next! Germany, we don't even have to go there. And recent reports about Liechtenstein's autocratic prince trouble us.
So our recommendation: Stay at home. But just steer clear of D.C.
Lawrence Douglas is a professor of law, jurisprudence, and social thought at Amherst College; his novel, The Catastrophist (Harcourt), just appeared in paperback. Alexander George is a professor of philosophy at Amherst; his book, What Would Socrates Say? (Clarkson Potter), will appear later this summer.
The Chronicle Review, Volume 53, Issue 43, Page B2
Full text: A bone-headed boycott, BY BENJAMIN POGRUND PROSPECT, London, July 2007
Cutting links with Israeli academics will only hinder the chances of peace in the middle east
The proposed British boycott of Israeli academics has the worthy aim of ending the occupation of the West Bank. But either because it is so poorly thoughtout, or is so ill-motivated, it will have the opposite effect. Boycott is an old story for Israelis. The Arab League has been shunning the country for nearly 60 years. Its economic boycott has partly unravelled, but some members still refuse all contacts. Israel is excluded from middle east and Asian regional sports (that’s why it plays football and other sports in the European zone). Egypt and Jordan have formal peace treaties with Israel—but “anti-normalisation” practices determine that only some academics will work with Israelis. Israel has, of course, survived, and is thriving. But the majority of its people have had the mindset of resistance imprinted on them. They accept that they live in a hostile world. Underpinning this attitude are centuries of antisemitic persecution and, of course, the Holocaust. Now comes the possible boycott by the British University and College Union, aimed at pressing Israeli academics into exerting an unspecified influence on their government to quit the West Bank. Boycott is a useful political weapon. It applies nonviolent pressure to bring about change; it’s also safe for those who undertake it, while giving them a comfortable feeling of doing something useful. But it is a tactic, not a principle, and if it is to have any chance of success it must be connected to reality. So who are the targeted Israeli academics? There is little hard evidence about how academics view issues of the day, and particularly the occupation. However, it’s obvious that academics play a larger part than most other groups in trying to further peace: they are heard on the platforms of pro-peace movements, they
write articles and do research, and they appear on television and radio. It’s equally obvious that a relatively small number is involved. Yet there are enough of them, and they speak and write strongly enough to draw right-wing condemnation, with demands for disciplinary action against them and their universities. At least one website is devoted to savaging
liberal and left-wing Israeli academics. It invites visitors to click to view “the list of 358 Israeli academics who are working to destroy Israel!” Most Israeli academics, like their counterparts elsewhere, want to get on with their work and lives; the last thing they want is to play the activist. Presumably the boycott is intended to force them to climb on to the barricades. Can they escape the boycott if they sign a statement attesting to their activism? How much activism will be enough? Supporters of a boycott use the example of apartheid South Africa, saying that the exclusion of whites from international sports helped to end apartheid. Yes, it did undermine the morale of whites. So did other boycotts, from academic and cultural through arms sales and disinvestment. Each had a varying input, some more significant than others. Yet with Israelis inured to boycott and worse, there is no lesson to be drawn from the South African experience. And why choose this model anyway? Apartheid was a clearly defined moral situation: it was good vs evil. People around the world knew this and lined up accordingly. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is far more complex, with two peoples struggling over a small piece of land, each with their own history and narratives to sustain them, and with the conflict further complicated by religion and the wider middle east strife. There is no simple Israelis bad, Palestinians good, or Palestinians bad, Israelis good. Peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Israel and all the Arab states, is the goal. An end to occupation of the West Bank is crucial, but is only the first step. What must follow is an independent, viable Palestinian state and an Israel secure within agreed boundaries. Contentious issues must be resolved: Jerusalem as a shared capital, the fate of refugees, Jewish settlements in the West Bank, linking the West Bank and Gaza. Standing on the sidelines yelling at Israel is no help. Far better to work to bring together Israeli and Palestinian academics. Contact is limited at present: both sides lack the will, and everyone faces severe difficulties in meeting owing to Palestinian killings and Israeli restrictions.
But bringing people together is harder work than calling for boycotts, it is also dangerous thanks to the murderous conflict between Fatah and Hamas. That makes it an even greater challenge, and test of sincerity, for British academics.
Anatol Lieven will be chair of international relations and terror studies at King’s College London from September,
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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