Boycott motions for forthcoming UCU Congress

SFC14 Practical support for Palestinian academic trade unionists, National executive committee

Congress condemns the failure of the international community to confront the Israeli government over the humanitarian disaster it is continuing to perpetrate in Gaza and the continued development of illegal settlements in the West Bank.


· Welcomes the decisions of the 2009 TUC Congress relating to Palestine and Israel, and instructs the NEC to work with the TUC, STUC, and other affiliates, Amnesty International and PSC, to put the recommendations into effect.

· Welcomes the Education International-Canadian Association of University Teachers report on academic freedom in Palestine and Israel, and the new impetus it provides for work on this area in EI.

· Calls on the NEC to work with Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees, as well as EI, CAUT and other supportive EI affiliates, to build PFUUPE’s organisational and negotiating capacity within Palestine, according to the needs PFUUPE identifies, and to support its membership of EI and enable it to participate fully in EI’s work.

SFC15 Palestine solidarity, BDS, and Histadrut, University of Brighton Grand Parade

Congress notes the successful international BDS conference hosted by the UCU in line with Congress policy;

The statement that emerged from that conference and the call from the Palestinian Boycott National Committee for an isolation of Israel while it continues to act in breach of international law.

Congress resolves:

· To reaffirm its support for BDS, and to seek its implementation within the constraints of the existing law;

· To seek in conjunction with other trade unions, nationally and internationally, to establish an annual international conference on BDS, a trade union sponsored BDS website and a research centre on commercial, cultural and academic complicity with Israeli breaches of international law, with appropriate cost sharing;

· To sever all relations with Histadrut, and to urge other trade unions and bodies to do likewise;

· To campaign actively against the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and to coordinate that campaign with other trade unions and solidarity movements.

SFC16 Ariel and West Bank Colonisation, University of Brighton Falmer

Congress notes

The continuing colonisation of the West Bank – construction of illegal settlements, Israeli-only roads, diversion of Palestinian water, disaggregation of the territory, disruption of Palestinian life, destruction of olive groves and separation of Palestinian cultivators from their land, denial of educational and scholarly opportunities to Palestinians, and the continuing construction of the wall;

The contribution of Israel’s academy in this process – scientific and social and historical research, sitting of annexes on illegally confiscated land, and support for military occupation;

The particular contribution of Ariel College in this process – recruiting Israelis as settlers for their education – and the recent decision of Israel to recognise Ariel as a ‘university centre’, on the way to its establishment as a university on occupied territory.

Congress resolves to commence the investigatory process associated with the imposition of a boycott of Ariel College.

12 Responses to “Boycott motions for forthcoming UCU Congress”

  1. Absolute Observer Says:

    How very nice for the UCU.
    They are an increasing irrelevance. Should any of this be passed – and after all, they have made it virtually impossible for anyone who disagrees with a boycott to be heard – they will simply hemoraege members as in the past.

    No serious academic will pay any heed to it at all and the UCU will simply lose legitimacy on all other matters.

    I have to admit, I find it amusing to what these childred play grown-ups. One day the real world will catch up with them.

    And, as an earlier post noted, I give the UCU 10 minutes to claim that their obsessiver interest in Israel cannot possibly antisemitic since they have brought out a poster about the Holocaust.

  2. Norman Says:

    Hey guys we have wonderful educational establishments in Israel why on earth do you want to waste your time mixing with the pond life that appear to have so much time on their hands to come up with these ludicrous resolutions. Come to Israel and contribute to the continuing success story of Israel Academia. The UCU is clearly run by a bunch of no hopers and has become so politicized that it resembles the UN Human Rights Commission in all but name. I thought the UCU was established to look after the rights of lecturers et al in the Universities what on earth has that got to do with BDS or is the UCU a subsidiary of the SWP – just asking.

  3. What you won't hear, but what is really happening Says:

    “Comrades (whoops – colleagues),
    It is quite correct that as a Union we have been unable to save a single redundancy at a British university; not at Kings, not at London Met, nowhere. We have been unable to stop a single British university from laying plans for potential redundancies.
    It is also correct that, as a Union, our stance against the “imapct” provisions on the REF was initiated, not by us, but by academics from the fields of science whose petition against the policy began months before us.
    However, colleagues, we are strong and united. That strength and that Unity will be shown in our resolute and unanimous support of the motion to isolate the Jewish state. We will remain strong in the face of the “supporters of Israel” to keep the Union committed to this policy of excommunication.
    Colleagues, we may not have the strength or ability to stand up to a tottering Labour government. But, we do have the strength to stand up to the Zionists, their Lobby and Supporters. That, colleagues, is a measure of our real strength.”

    Indeed, it is, indeed it is……………

  4. Thomas Venner Says:

    I can’t help wondering if a lot of the supporters of the academic boycott of Israel are in it primarily for their own interests. Maybe they’re worried that their own work can’t stand up to that of their Israeli counterparts. This, after all, was the real basis of the “Deutsche Physik” movement of the early 1930s, when a group of German scientists and other academics tried to remove what they referred to as “Jüdische Physik” (“Jewish Physics”) from German universities, with nationalist ideas used as their justification. The reality of the matter was that the group who started the movement were worried that their own inferior work would be discredited by the work of other physicists, predominantly Albert Einstein, and simply wanted to remove the competition.

    Also, has anyone pointed out that a total academic boycott would be more or less unprecedented? I don’t think we even did that to the Soviet Union, did we? The only example I can think of where British academia has completely severed contact with that of another country would be the Axis powers during World War II (and we only even cut off contact with academics in Nazi Germany right at the outbreak of the war).

  5. Absolute Observer Says:

    For the deluded fools Israel IS the akin to ithe powers of today.
    For the deluded fools, there is only a unidimensional view of Israel. Like the antisemites who think a Jew is a Jew is a Jew, so the deluded fools think that there is no difference between a settler, a trade unionist, a member of the left, the right, a secular and a religious Israeli.
    For these deluded fools, Israel is an unmitigated evil. guilty in its very origins that, like the Jews before it, cannot be redeemed.
    That this is the case is obvious in the all-embracing demands of the motion that indludes the Israeli TU movement and anything else Israeli in it.
    It is not politics, it is a call for destruction.

    • Thomas Venner Says:

      I know that’s probably it, as usual (see the quote from “The Believer” that I posted up on one of the Jenny Tonge threads), I was just suggesting a possible alternative explanation for why so many people have jumped on the bandwagon.

  6. Absolute Observer Says:

    Let me just clarify something.
    The analogy with antisemitism is not with raciist antisemitism.
    It is rather a pre-racist version in which the only road to salvation for an Israeli and those Jews who think, at the least, that Israel is not evil incarnate, is to denounce Israel in the terms demanded by the motion.
    Whilst for racist antisemites, Jews cannot help being Jews, for the current non-racist version, they are capable of choice and, having sided with evil, are even more culpable.
    In this way, the UCU can memorialise the Holocaust at the same time as boycotting the Jewish state. With the nazis, Jews did not choose to be evil, and so the terror visited on them was wrong.
    “Zionists” have made their choice, and so punishment, as defined by the BDS brigade is seen as legitimate and righteous.

    But, of course, they’ll claim that this has nothing to do with antisemitism.
    But, then, of course, they would have to explain why Israel and only Israel, why the Israeli TU, why only Israeli Jews. etc. and so forth.
    And, why, with a history of boycotts against Jews, as TV notes, only the Jewish state is subject to this action.
    No doubt, pure coincidence and, in good liberal fashion, don’t even think of Israelis as Jews – just criminals.

  7. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Actually, in fairness (much as it pains me to acknowledge that the Exec. of UCU can be allowed even this degree of being let off the hook), the first resolution, SFC14, isn’t, strictly, a boycott motion. It is, really, an example of the sort of well-meaning, vaguely left-wing, resolution that trade unions have been passing, at all levels from the branch up to Annual conference, for decades.:”let’s show solidarity with the outcasts of the world” resolutions.

    However, as for the other two…well, SFC15 says
    “Congress resolves:
    · To reaffirm its support for BDS, and to seek its implementation within the constraints of the existing law;”
    and goes on to say
    “· To sever all relations with Histadrut, and to urge other trade unions and bodies to do likewise;”

    The first clause clearly calls for a boycott, and we all know, by now, exactly in what manner this is unlawful in the UK, and the second calls for a boycott of a trade union federation working with the very groups that UCU supposes (in its dreams) it is helping with nonsense like this. And, of course, it is important to note that it is the only _Jewish_ tu federation in the world that it intends to boycott.

    Then Res. SFC16 states that: “The contribution of Israel’s academy in this process – scientific and social and historical research, sitting of annexes on illegally confiscated land, and support for military occupation”. I’ll leave anyone else who can be bothered to rehearse the points about Ariel College _yet again_ to do so. Here, we find that the _whole_ of Israeli academe is lumped together in the assumption that every last Israeli academic, academic administrator, student, funder, etc, ad nauseam, is an avid and vocal supporter of Ariel College.

    One might have some understanding of this stance if the UCU Executive and their acolytes had the same uncompromising attitude towards all UK academic institutions, and/or those in the US or, indeed, _anywhere_ in the world as well as Israel.

    But of course they don’t, so their attitude can only be seen as antisemitic, despite all their Livingstone formulation denials.

    As many of us have said before, if it wasn’t for the irrepairable harm it would do to the union and the innocent members, one wishes they would actually pass and attempt to implement these resolutions, and then we could all watch them try to explain away why their breaches of the UK anti-discrimination law was actually a deliberate blow aimed at their freedom of speech and action. Caused, of course, by the powerful and rich Zionists like all of us at Engage.

    BTW, can anyone lend me a fiver until my pension turns up at the end of the month?

  8. zkharya Says:

    BDSers seek the dissolution of the Jewish state period, it seems to me.

    “The contribution of Israel’s academy in this process – scientific and social and historical research, sitting of annexes on illegally confiscated land, and support for military occupation”.

    Interests me because of ‘scientific and social and HISTORICAL research’. Behind that ‘historical’ is some kind of general implication that Israeli Jewish historiography is complicit with sins x, y and z. Nothing is specified, but it is of a piece with the general PSC accusation that Israeli Jews have invented certain Jewish historical connections with the land (normative Palestinian Muslim and Christian nationalist stuff); that, somehow, pro-Zionist Israeli Jewish historiography is innately racist and/or illegitimate, inherently doing the Palestinians down.

    But, as I said, BDS seeks the dissolution of the Jewish state, so anything that is not anti-Zionist is inherently illegitimate.

    I wonder what they would say of SOAS Israel Studies department. Will they boycott that too?

    • Evan Says:

      “somehow, pro-Zionist Israeli Jewish historiography is innately racist and/or illegitimate, inherently doing the Palestinians down.”

      This reminds me of last year when the Dead Sea Scrolls were hosted at a museum in Toronto – there were protests against the supposed “looting” and “appropriation” of these supposedly “Palestinian artefacts”.
      Funnily enough (or perhaps not), the “International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Toronto (IJAN-TO)” took a leading role in the protests. Anti-Zionist Jewish self-flagellation in excelsis!

  9. zkharya Says:

    ‘For the deluded fools Israel IS the akin to ithe powers of today.’

    Absolutely: Israel is ‘colonialism’ personified. Or incarnate. By which they mean the same as South Africa, Australia, America etc, or worse. Hence to pay the price for them all.

    The Israeli Jew as substitute White Colonial, to be crucified to atone for his sins. Despite Israel’s existing precisely because its Jewish subjects were not historically viewed as ‘white’ or ‘European’.

    This kind of ahistorical nonsense pervades UCU, which is astonishing given its supposedly being an academic institution. The degree to which academic Israeli and other Jewish historiography and studies is bypassed is without parallel. Except in pre-war or Soviet antisemitic or anti-Zionist discourse, where the antisemite (sometimes Jewish) was often an expert in Judaica, also.

  10. Lynne T Says:

    Some interesting thoughts on the BDS movement from Hussein Ibish of the American Task Force on Palestine:

    BDS in Berkeley: breakthrough or falling at the first hurdle?
    April 17, 2010 – 11:44am

    But then this is what Ibish is after as opposed to the BDSers:

    What’s Wrong with the One-State Agenda? Why Ending the Occupation and Peace with Israel is Still the Palestinian National Goal
    August 30, 2009 – 7:26pm

    In this new book, Hussein Ibish examines the arguments generally put forward by Palestinian and other Arab American proponents of abandoning the goal of ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state and instead seeking to promote a single, democratic state in all of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. The book also looks at differences between the deployment of the one-state idea by some Palestinian figures in the occupied territories as a diplomatic “threat” intended to spur greater Israeli seriousness about a negotiated agreement and the diasporic discourse that drives most one-state rhetoric. Finally, Dr. Ibish explains in some detail why ending the occupation and peace with Israel, while difficult to achieve and thus far elusive, are the only plausible and practicable Palestinian national strategy.

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