If, after reading everything below, you need further inspiration to take action on this issue, all you have to do is go to Sue Blackwell's Pages on Palestine and Israel, where she has proclaimed "VICTORY!" on behalf of the "academic intifada."
BACKGROUND ON THE AUT ACADEMIC BOYCOTT
WHAT IS THE AUT? The Association of University Teachers, with 48,700 members, is the largest and most influential union of higher education lecturers and support staff, such as librarians, in the United Kingdom. THERE WERE 190 DELEGATES AT THE AUT MEETING.
WHAT WAS THE BOYCOTT RESOLUTION AND HOW DID THE AUT VOTE? The resolution centered around five separate motions:
1. Contact and work with the Israeli Union of Higher Education. (An Israel-friendly counter-proposal.) This motion was tabled.[an aside from Yael: see what Barzeit U. architecture & engineering students are up to]
2. Boycott Hebrew University because it allegedly confiscated Palestinian land to build dorms. This motion was referred for further investigation because of inconclusive evidence.
3. Officially circulate the Call for a Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel that was issued by Birzeit University in the West Bank and signed by 60 PA academic unions and NGOs. This motion passed.
4. Boycott Haifa University because it allegedly violates academic freedom as evidenced by one professor's-Ilan Pappe's-complaints. This motion passed BY A NARROW MARGIN (96 TO 92).WHO INTRODUCED THE MOTION? Two anti-Israel activists, Sue Blackwell and Shereen Benjamin, both from Birmingham University AUT branch, co-wrote the resolutions calling for specific boycotts. The resolutions calling for the circulation of a boycott call was proposed by the open university branch of the AUT Blackwell draped herself in a Palestinian flag at the event. Blackwell and Benjamin were following the lead of Mona Baker, an instructor who was born and educated in Egypt, and linguists Steven and Hillary Rose, both Jews, who had led the way in calling for academic boycotts of Israel. The controversial Haifa University professor, Ilan Pappe, also worked closely with these AUT members.
5. Boycott Bar-Ilan University because it supervises degree programs at the Israeli College of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank. This motion passed BY A NARROW MARGIN (96 TO 92).
WAS THERE DEBATE? No. Opponents were not allowed to speak.The AUT's Assistant General Secretary David Bleiman commented that the absence of debate meant the motion would "carry little moral authority." The AUT refused Jewish members' request that the motion be rescheduled from late Friday afternoon when Sabbath and Passover were beginning to an earlier day in the 3-day conference so they could attend and vote. The AUT also refused to accept evidence from Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities which disputed the facts stated in the motions.
WHY NOW? A motion to impose an academic boycott against Israel had been defeated in 2002. The proponents revised their strategy to make it more likely to pass. The new motion was more specific, targeting individual schools and their alleged abuses and it excluded Israeli academics if they signed an affidavit condemning Israel's policies. In addition, the AUT finally had the support of some Palestinians, which it had lacked before. The Birzeit Call for a Boycott had been signed by 60 academic unions and NGOs in the PA.
HOW HAVE OTHERS RESPONDED TO THE AUT VOTE? In general, British leaders and even newspapers normally hostile to Israel have been shocked by the violation of academic freedom and by the frank _expression of anti- Semitism. Many point out that this academic boycott is reminiscent of Nazi policy in the 1930's.
"The decision ... is a mockery of academic freedom, a biased and blinkered move that is as ill-timed as it is perverse ...[It] can quickly become an excuse for anti-Semitism ... Why does the AUT not call for a ban on contacts in dozens of other countries inimical to human rights?... AUT members should defeat this pernicious ban by cultivating every contact available as soon as possible with the two Israeli universities." (London Times editorial, April 25 2005)StandWithUs suggests the following two actions be taken:
The boycott was "swiftly and rightly condemned by university vice-chancellors and principals." (London Times editorial, April 25 2005)
The boycott "would appear to run contrary to contractual law, race and religious discrimination law, and academic freedom obligations, which are built into the contracts of staff in pre -1992 universities." Jocelyn Prudence, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association in Britain (The Guardian)
"A boycott attempt based on nationality encourages discrimination and goes against the principle of judging academic work on its merits alone. It inhibits progress in areas that benefit humanity, cuts the UK off from leading research, prevents collaborations and encourages discrimination against some students and staff within the UK." Andre Oboler of Britain's National Postgraduate Committee, which includes all MA and PhD students. (JPost)
"The AUT motion cannot be dismissed as the ravings of a tiny minority of far-left academics in a marginal union ... this development is merely the latest in an apparently unstoppable stream of comments and incidents of an anti-Jewish nature. And the crucial thing is the absence of outrage in the wider community ..." (Melanie Phillips)
The boycott is "an academic terror attack on Israeli academe." Its initiators were "a radical and extremist group" that has been trying for a long time to find an excuse to boycott Israel. Prof. Eitan Gilboa of Bar-Ilan's political science department. (Haaretz)
"The boycott should be seen as part of a broader strategy toward the de-legitimization of Israel, leading to eventual sanctions against the country. This is a political campaign. The people behind the campaign, such as Sue Blackwell, are opposed to the continued existence of the State of Israel." Jonathan Spyer, Interdisciplinary Center in Herzeliya. (JPost)
WRITE to AUT and COPY BRITISH PRESS
Write to the British Association of University Teachers (AUT) and tell them to REVERSE THEIR DECISION, made Friday April 22, 2005 to boycott Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities.
firstname.lastname@example.orgSend a copy of your letter to the British press ...