Many are angry that AUT has now taken the first steps on the road to boycotting Israeli thinkers, teachers, artists and musicians on the premise that are responsible for the actions of the Israeli government.
It is crucial that we do not to leave AUT in anger and disgust. If we seize the moment, we can build a campaign that can reverse the boycott policy in AUT. People must not resign, they must fight. And the people who have been fighting for a long time, and feel isolated and angry, will not be isolated now. A whole new layer of people are ready to join them in the fight against the boycott.
On this issue, debate can change minds. The argument that 'Israel is apartheid and so we must boycott it' is seductive to people who don't know much about the issues and who want to 'do something'. But the commitment of the people who have been thus seduced is weak. So debate, education and organisation have a strong chance of success.
Many AUT members will be worried about union democracy; others about academic freedom; many will be worried by the whiff of antisemitism; many members are fed up with Sharon but don't know how to oppose him and the boycotters at the same time. This is the moment for a campaign. And I think we can win. Read the following carefully (from John Pike, Open University).
The AUT council at Eastbourne voted to boycott two Israeli Universities without a proper debate: no speakers were taken against the resolutions for a boycott moved by Birmingham or against the resolution calling for the circulation of the call for a boycott, proposed by the OU. Lack of time prevented any debate on this matter, which divided the Council down the middle. This should offend all AUT members, regardless of their position on the substantive issue. For this reason we want there to be a special council of the AUT properly to discuss this issue.
Under the rules of the AUT there is provision for a special meeting of Council. Rule 10.3.1 (in full) states that 'The president may summon a special meeting of council. A special meeting of Council must be convened within 35 days if a request specifying the business to be transacted is received from 25 council members
All members of the AUT should contact their representative members of council. You can generally find out who they are from the local branch page of the AUT website at http://www.aut.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=519.
Please cut and paste the first statement below and ask council members to sign it. Please let me know of any successes at J.E.Pike@open.ac.uk and send me signatures as they come in. I'll keep count and post updates to the Engage website.
To the President of the Association of University Teachers
As members of the Council of the Association of University Teachers, we request a special meeting of the Council of the AUT under rule 10.3.1 in order to have a full debate on proposals to boycott Israeli Universities.
We also ask ordinary members of the AUT to add their names -- email is fine for this one - to the following statement which will be circulated to all members of the National executive committee, all of who are members of Council.
To members of the National Executive of the AUT
As members of the AUT concerned by the absence of a debate on the resolutions to boycott Israeli Universities, we ask that you support the request for a Special Council meeting to have a full debate on these proposals
Jon Pike (Open) AUT membership number 58097
London SE14 6NW
Bloglinks: Watching the Boycott with Solomonia, Isblog on Boycott/Counter-boycott, Oliver Kamm: Those AUT boycotters
Tags: Israel, culture wars