The Academic Friends of Israel
For immediate release 29 May 2011
The Academic Friends of Israel condemns the University College Union for passing an illegal resolution that promotes the academic and cultural boycott of Israel
The Academic Friends of Israel condemns the University College Union for passing a resolution today at its conference in Harrogate which ignores the legal advice that the UCU received in 2007 which made it clear that distributing and promoting a call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel is in breach of discrimination and equality legislation and also outside the aims and objects of the union.
Ronnie Fraser, Director of the Academic Friends of Israel, commented:
“If UCU distributes copies of the Palestinian boycott call to its members or promotes the call with Education International or its affiliates it is effectively asking them to participate in the boycott. As well as being in breach of the 2010 Equality act; their actions would also be outside the aims and objects of the union.
The rhetoric used against Israel in the debate today was totally unacceptable such as Israel is an authoritarian, totalitarian and fascist state. The motion also contains a relentless attack on the Jewish state and follows similar motions that have been adopted at UCU conferences over the last five years. No other state in the world has been singled out for attack in this way. There might be some justification for such an attack if the facts alleged in the preamble were true. In fact almost everything stated is a falsehood , Moreover, any state has the right to penalise those involved in economic boycotts against it, and the implied condemnation of Israel for doing so, or for considering such action, is the application of double standards by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”
“I recognise of course that many of these issues are open to debate and discussion and that legitimate criticism of Israel is acceptable. But the recitation of a long list of allegations against Israel, and Israel alone, without any recognition that Palestinians might bear any guilt or responsibility for the current impasse, or for their own crimes against Israelis, is one-sided and antisemitic.”
For further details, please contact Ronnie Fraser, Director of The Academic Friends of Israel, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Academic Friends of Israel
Appendix: UCU motion 36
Composite: Threats to academic freedom in Israel and Palestine National Executive Committee, LSE
- Israel’s continued illegal occupation of Palestine and daily oppression of Palestinian teachers and students
- the restrictions on the free movement of Palestinian Academics within the Occupied Territories and crossing between the Territories and Israel and on foreign travel
- Israel’s ongoing construction of settlements
- the current witch-hunting of Israeli academics, civil rights campaigners and NGOs who are deemed to be damaging Israel’s economic interests by their political activities
- the recent alarming moves in the Israeli Knesset to penalise Israeli academics who support boycott action or even just provide information which may assist boycotts; this law will lay academics open to fines of £5000 with ‘no need to demonstrate that injury was done’ and to unlimited damages if losses are caused.
- the petition from 155 Israeli academics expressing their “unwillingness to take part in any type of academic activity taking place in the college operating in the settlement of Ariel”, calling Ariel an illegal settlement whose existence contravenes international law and the Geneva Convention.
Congress deplores these attacks on the academic freedom of our Palestinian and Israeli colleagues.
Congress instructs NEC to:
- circulate to all members
- the call by the Israeli academics
- the PACBI call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel
- information about the current legislation passing through the Knesset threatening heavy fines and other penalties on Israelis taking non-violent action against the occupation.
- seek a delegation to meet the Israeli Ambassador to raise our concerns
- press the Foreign Office to protest to the Israeli Government
- raise the issue with Education International and press them to seek similar action by all affiliates
- publicise these threats and our actions in response.