Because of the fierce political and legal attack on them the UCU has had to carefully phrase any motion on the boycott of Israeli academia. Although by no means the best we would desire, the motion below goes a long way to putting Boycott back on the agenda and turning the focus on those who have the gall and hypocrisy to condemn boycotts whilst, at the very same time, they lay siege to and insist on a boycott of the Palestinians of Gaza.
The motion passed by UCU today is Motion 25 Composite: Palestine and the occupation proposed by the University of Brighton & Eastbourne, University of Brighton Grand Parade, University of East London Docklands and National Executive Committee
Congress notes the
1. continuation of illegal settlement, killing of civilians and the impossibility of civil life, including education;
2. humanitarian catastrophe imposed on Gaza by Israel and the EU;
3. apparent complicity of most of the Israeli academy;
legal attempts to prevent UCU debating boycott of Israeli academic institutions; and legal advice that such debates are lawful
Congress affirms that
5. criticism of Israel or Israeli policy are not, as such, anti-semitic;
6. pursuit and dissemination of knowledge are not uniquely immune from their moral and political consequences;
Congress resolves that
7. colleagues be asked to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating;
8. UCU widely disseminate the personal testimonies of UCU and PFUUPE delegations to Palestine and the UK , respectively;
9. the testimonies will be used to promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions;
10. UCU facilitate and encourage twinning arrangements and other direct solidarity with Palestinian institutions;
11. Ariel College , an explicitly colonising institution in the West Bank , be investigated under the formal Greylisting Procedure.
And not surprisingly the Zionists have been quick off the mark. In an article ‘U.K. academic union moves to consider boycott of Israeli academia’ by Asaf Uni, Haaretz Correspondent and Agencies it was noted that:
The motion noted "the continuation of illegal settlement, killing of civilians and the impossibility of civil life, including education" as a result of the occupation.
The Jewish physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg said he cancelled plans to visit England in protest of the measure. [I can hear people screaming, even as I write: ‘Please Steven, we beg of you. Don’t do this. How can life ever be the same again?’ – Tony G]
A Foreign Office spokesperson released the following statement: "The British Government fully supports academic freedom and is firmly against any academic boycotts of Israel, Israeli universities or academics."
"The British Government does not consider boycotts constructive," [except when it comes to Boycotts of Palestinians, in which case we support them, especially if it means a starvation blockade of Gaza – TG] The Foreign Office said. "They do nothing to advance the prospects for peace. It is therefore all the more important to keep open channels of communication with academics and educational institutions in the Middle East and to support – as we are - dialogue between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority."
The hypocrisy of these people beggars belief. Boycotting South Africa was wrong, whereas boycotting Cuba is fine. Boycotting Israel is terrible, anti-Semitic etc. Boycotting or even worse, blockading Palestinian civilians is right, because only then will they understand the futility of resistance.
Of course this hypocrisy is standard for capitalism. The violence of the oppressed is to be condemned unreservedly whereas ruling class violence, see the Raytheon article below, is perfectly acceptable.
Israel Ambassador to England Ron Prosor said the move runs counter to academic principles. [Like roadblocks preventing students getting to their university? Sorry, that’s ‘terrorism’ of course – when anything goes]
"Any call to an academic boycott on Israel is an act of folly since boycott stands as a contradiction of what academy symbolizes and represents," Prosor said."
John Spellar, Labor MP for Warley, has slammed UCU's motion, which he said would allow for a boycott of Israeli academia. "It is a matter of great regret that the UCU has passed this motion, which runs contrary to the views of ordinary members and against principles of academic freedom," he said.
The motion follows last year's attempts by the union to implement a similar boycott motion, but was withdrawn by the union following undisclosed legal advice.
This year's motion was debated despite the legal advice that the Stop the Boycott campaign had obtained, which clearly states that any boycott of Israeli academia would be in breach of the union's own anti-discrimination policies, as well as British anti-discrimination laws.
The Academic Friends of Israel condemned the UCU for passing a resolution "which is clearly discriminatory and anti-Semitic and, we believe, in clear violation of the U.K. Race Relations act."
Jeremy Newmark, Joint Head of the Stop the Boycott Campaign said: "UCU has again demonstrated how out of touch it is with the vast majority of its membership and with the wider academic community. This motion does nothing to help the Palestinians. "
He said the resolution "runs counter to all that a Trade Union should stand for, discriminating against some of its members instead of defending all of them."
Lorna Fitzsimons, Joint Head of the Stop the Boycott campaign, said the motion "in effect gives license to harassment and discrimination within academic institutions, the very thing the UCU is supposed to protect its members from."
Of course Hirsh has to operate within an academic environment in Britain which is becoming more hostile to the Israeli state and Zionism, hence he knows he cannot get away with maligning people as racists when they are not, whereas ex-NUS President Lorna Fitzimmons, now Head of the main Israeli propaganda unit in Britain, has no such qualms.