Sunday, June 3, 2007

ICAN ALERT - UCU boycott proposal

ICAN, the Israeli Citizens Action Network, sends us this:

The proposal for a boycott of Israeli academics is just one of a series of attempts by British extremists to continue and strengthen the demonisation and deligitimisation of Israel . I am aware that this e-mail is a longer than I would like but the matter is so important that I feel you must have as much information at your disposal as possible.

What type of action can you take?

a) For those of you living in the UK, especially if you have studied at one of the Universities, you can write to the UCU condemning the action and feeling ashamed of the UK ,

b) If you live outside the UK, you can also write referring to the inevitable backlash that is likely as a result of the action, quoting a one professor who has already cancelled a lecture in the Uk and an academic fund who has informed several UK universities not to apply for funding. Write to all professional or scholarly organizations with which you are affiliated. Urge or petition the leadership of that organization to issue a statement opposing academic boycotts in general and the UCU's boycott motion in particular.

This proposal has been instigated by a small group of anti-Israel union delegates who appear not to represent the views of the union membership and who have singled out Israel for opprobrium. The motion is an attempt to delegitimize and to silence the only Jewish state in the world, one of a tiny minority of states in the Middle East that truly honor academic freedom. In Israel's prestigious universities, faculty members represent all religious and political persuasions. Many Israeli professors are Arabs; many are Muslims. How many professors at universities in Arab countries are Jews? How many are non-Muslims? How many belong to nondominant Muslim denominations?

The proposed boycott is immoral and antithetical to academic principles. It shuts off dialogue, when one of the key purposes of universities is to promote dialogue and thereby the pursuit of truth. It ignores existing projects where Israeli and Palestinian academics cooperate. It requires academics to hew to one ideological line. And it constitutes discrimination on the basis of nationality.


You can write to UCU head Sally Hunt at,uk and the other members of the UCU whose e-mail addresses are below. PLEASE NOTE thjat some of these people may have voted for OR against the motion so do not accuse anyone.. Ms. Hunt has publicly opposed the boycott-enabling motions. Express your support for her argument as Joy did above and that the boycott motion may not be implemented until it has been presented to, discussed by, and passed by a vote of the full membership, analogous to motions for strikes. Please share your thoughts, feelings and analysis in a collegial and respectful fashion.

Below are some typical letters already sent by academics:-.

Edward Beck, Walden University and President of SPME , commented: " In calling for a boycott of Israel academics, the British have separated themselves, not the Israelis, from the global academic community which firmly condemns academic boycotts for moral, ethical and intellectual reasons, frequently acknowledging that academics are active in trying to solve problems and not create additional ones."

"I am sorry that one of the first acts of the newly formed University and College Union has been to jettison the principle of the Universality of Science and Learning, which has been at the heart of academic activity for so long This decision brings discredit on the Union." said Oxford University scientist, Michael Yudkin.

Ashley Grossman, William Harvey Research Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine, Queen Mary University of London points out, "...I have yet to meet any member of an Israeli University who believes that there should be other than an establishment of a Palestinian state on equal terms with Israel: would that were true of all Palestinian opinion. The organisers of the boycott may state otherwise, but this one is another example of creeping salon anti-semitism that we are now become accustomed to in the UK."

Hebrew University Vidal Sasson Center for Research on Anti-Semitism Research Associate and SPME Board Member from Germany, Matthias Kuentzel remarks. "Hostilities against Israel appear today in the form of a pincer movement: On one side, we have anti-Semites such as Ahmadinejad or Hamas who draw their "knowledge" about Jews from the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." On the other side we have non-Jewish and Jewish "fellow travellers of anti-Semitism" in progressive Western movements and governments who take up and proliferate, albeit in muted form, Iran's attempts to delegitimize Israel."


Donna Robinson Divine, Morningstar Professor of Government, Smith College observes, " The UCU call for a boycott reveals not only profound ignorance of the Middle East conflict but also deep illiteracy about the academic mission. Academicians should be able to think without resort to slogans and mantras."

Law Professor Ed Morgan of the University of Toronto , makes this interesting analysis, "In the United States, the Export Administration Act, as amended in 1977, represents a comprehensive legislative response to the longstanding Arab League trade and investment boycott of Israel. Prohibited activities include refusing to do business for boycott reasons, taking discriminatory actions that are boycott based, engaging in schemes intended to place a boycotted person or entity at a commercial disadvantage, etc. In addition, the U.S. Treasury Department enforces the anti-boycott provisions of the Tax Reform Act of 1976, which deny certain tax benefits to those who agree to "participate in or cooperate with an international boycott." While the focus of the legislation is on commercial relationships, and it might take some inventive interpretations or even amendments to apply the law to non-commercial contexts such as university activities, the notion that nationality-base! d boycotts are offensive in a liberal society is certainly reflected in the anti-boycott statutes. The important link between a boycott of Israel - be it commercial or academic - and the impact on the Jewish community was succinctly stated by President Jimmy Carter who, in signing the EAA amendments into force on June 22, 1977, declared that, "The bill seeks…to end the divisive effects on American life of foreign boycotts aimed at Jewish members of our society." It may seem ironic today, but it was President Carter who identified those who would boycott Israel as practicing a special form of apartheid. Carter stated, "If we allow such a precedent to become established, we open the door to similar action against any ethnic, religious, or racial group in America."

University of Buffalo SPME Chapter Chair Prof. Ernest Sternberg, comments, " Today, leaders of the British academic labor union have approved a boycott of Jewish academics, in Israel, the country in which Jews have built as a democratic, tolerant home in the wake of worldwide discrimination, pogroms, and genocide. At a time when Israel is subjected to threats and active attempts at annihilation from Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, and Islamist extremists, the UCU has sought once again to target the victim. While hundreds of thousands are murdered in Darfur, repressive occupation continues in Tibet, ethnic cleansing takes place West Irian, and suicide-terrorism causes mass murder in around the world, UCU targets Israel. Through ignorance or malice, UCU leaders have, though this scapegoating of Israel, become complicit with bigotry, racism, and the yearning for genocide."

Here are the names, and e-mail addresses of the regional and local heads of the UCU union. Feel free to express your opinions to them, keeping in mind that not everyone on this list voted in favor of this resolution. Sally Hunt, joint general secretary, for example, has stated that she voted against it.

Israel's Minister of Immigration and Absorption has called upon Jews to refrain from making contributions to British institutions of higher learning. Why just Jews? Everyone who is committed to justice, freedom and truth should not give their contributions to academic institutions which stand firmly behind racism and anti-Semitism.

Silence is acquiescence, we MUST make our voice heard.

UCU head office
UCU head office: Britannia Street
UCU head office: Egmont House
Sally Hunt, Joint general secretary
Paul Mackney, Joint general secretary

Joint presidents, Dr Dennis Hayes and Dr Steve Wharton
Barry Lovejoy, National head of further education
Malcolm Keight, National head of higher education
Matt Waddup, National head of campaigns, organising, recruitment and training
Roger Kline, National head of equality and employment rights
Paul Cottrell, National head of cross-sectoral professional policy
Paula Lanning, National head of communications and public affairs
Annette Dalchow, National head of personnel
Bernadette Newman, National head of finance

David Bleiman, Edinburgh
Mary Cooper, London Britannia (FE)
Sue Davis, Birmingham Alpha (HE)
Russell Escritt, Birmingham Alpha (FE)
Brian Everett, Manchester Hale (HE)
Colin Gledhill, Manchester Talbot (FE)
Jenny Golden, London Britannia (HE)
Barry Johnson, Birmingham Newhall (HE)
Adrian Jones, Manchester Talbot (HE)
Barry Jones, London Egmont (HE)
Jim McCracken, Exeter
Jim McKeown, Belfast
Martin Machon, Birmingham Newhall (HE)
Elizabeth Martins, London Britannia (FE)
Ben Monks, London (HE - Anglia and south-east England)
Martyn Moss, Manchester Talbot (FE)
Iain Owens, Gateshead
John Perry, Bridgend
Chris Powell, London Britannia (FE)
Nick Varney, Birmingham Alpha (FE)


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