Academics try again to launch an Israeli university boycott
Lecturers' union has distanced itself from campaigners and is hoping issue
will not dominate its annual conference
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Academics will attempt to relaunch a boycott of Israeli universities
tomorrow at the University and College Union's annual conference in
Bournemouth. It's the ninth year running that the deeply contentious
proposal has surfaced, but this year it comes after the Israeli assault on
Gaza and a wave of student protests at 35 universities across the UK.
Two motions, numbers 28 and 29, call for a boycott of Israeli academics.
The main motion, 29, was compiled by academics at Brighton University, the
College of North East London and the University of East London. It accuses
Israeli educational institutions of "complicity … in colonisation and
"Congress affirms support for the Palestinian call for a boycott,
disinvestment and sanctions campaign," it says. This would include moves to
"renew urgently its call to members to reflect on the moral and political
appropriateness of collaboration with Israeli educational institutions".
It proposes an international conference this autumn to investigate ways of
implementing a boycott, possibly against individual institutions.
An amendment to motion 28 would mandate the union to call for "a boycott,
disinvestment and sanctions campaign".
The union leadership has taken pre-emptive action and the two motions have
been amended to say that the union would rule them null and void if passed,
after legal advice warned they would be discriminatory, illegal and outside
a union's remit.
The leadership is having to steer a fine line between desperately wanting
to avoid another conference dominated by the issue, and not wanting to be
accused of preventing a free debate on the issue by its own members. It
hopes that the issue will go away. But with this most contentious of
topics, it's unlikely that will happen.
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