My trade union, UCU, will be debating an academic boycott of Israel at its next conference. There are three motions: IN1, which I broadly support, sets out a rigourous process which the union should go through in undertaking an international boycott; IN2, which I broadly support, requires a full member ballot before any boycott is imposed (which reduces the danger of "anti-imperialist" activists imposing their ideology on the rank and file membership); IN3, which I profoundly oppose, is basically an endorsement of the PACBI boycott call; IN4 calls for a resumption of international aid to the Palestinian Authority and opposes upgrading of the status of Israel in the European Union. (Full details are here.)
If you are a UCU member, we need to be campaigning against IN3. Find out who your conference delegates are and, if possible, get your branch to mandate them to vote against IN3. If you need resources, go to Engage.
Also: a quick update on Ilan Pappe's imminent arrival at the University of Exeter and the banning of Matthias Küntzel's talk at Leeds University. Engage and SPME have a lot of material on these issue, including:
- Academic Freedom and Anti-Racism on British University Campuses - Shalom Lappin
- Engage supporters in Leeds UCU organise to defend free speech
- Kuntzel: For the Record
- Pappe on the Jewish student "lobby"
Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK has voted to boycott Israel. Michael Gove writes in The Times:
This boycott is not of a repressive state that outlaws free expression (of which, sadly, there are still too many) but of one of the few states in the Middle East with a proper free press: Israel.
The NUJ exists to defend, among other virtues, freedom of speech. That virtue is better defended in Israel than in any other nation of the Middle East and it comes under assault daily from forces driven by fanaticism.
Now is a time, for all sorts of reasons, for showing solidarity with those defending democracy in that region, not for passing on the other side of the road. So, with no little sadness, I feel that I have to leave.
They've also voted to support the Bolivarian "revolution"...