1657. Congress is due to finish at 6 today and is running late. This boycott motion is on the agenda but it looks like it may not be taken today.
1659. I am going to describe what is going on – to the best of my ability. When something is “in quotation marks” then it is a direct accurate quote. When there are no marks, it is my description of what is being said.
1701. Sally Hunt, General Secretary spoke half an hour ago. It was a general critique of Government education policy. A call for some reform in the union – including reducing the size of the NEC. She made an appeal against factionalism. Preparing her bid for re-election?
1706. Debating motion concerning the timing of Congress.
1707. Coming up later, mtion L10 Venezuela: “UCU Congress notes the unilateral and unlawful sanctions imposed by the US administration against the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA for trading with Iran. Venzuela is a sovereign country that has the right to trade with any country it chooses.” So this Congress may vote to “circulate the PACBI call” for an academic boycott of Israel while at the same time “strongly condemning US sanctions against PDVSA”. We’ll see.
1713. Coming up, the international debate, starting with Composite 35, wishing Amnesty International a happy 50th birthday and seeking ways to work with it.
1716. A count has been ordered on Motion 34 concerning future timings of UCU Congresses.
1720. Amnesty motion next, and then is the motion entitled “Threats to Academic Freedom in Israel and Palestine”. We are still counting votes on the motion about Congress timing.
1725. Amnesty International. Marion Hersh proposing for the NEC.
1726. Not contentious. I’m going to briefly talk about Amnesty International. Amnesty does good work supporing womens rights and LGBT people. Amnesty has done interesting work on recent events in the MIddle EAst and Egypt. Also calling for the impeachment of Ghadaffi. This is urging us to strenthen our links and support Amnesty.
1728. Mike Cushman for LSE moving. UCU has always been proud of its record for defending academics under attack from Columbia to Burma and beyond. What kind of state crminalizes non violent civil society action against criminality? An authoritarian, totalitarian and fascist state. A bill in the Knesset that will do exactly that. “it is prohibited to initiate a boycott against Israel…”
Criminality every day. And it says if you engage in BDS – you will be liable for a fine of £5000 each time. If you provide information, if you do research, if you find out what is going on in the occupied territories, you will be fined.
The money will be paid to the people who have been boycotted. This bill mixes criminal and civil law. £5000 every time you do some research that says this settlement is exporting goods illegally. I Beg to move.
1732. Sue Blackwell. Ariel is the 4th largest settlement in the West Bank. The wall around Ariel separates Palestinians from their services. Once a 5 minute trip now takes half an hour. Waste from ariel pollutes Palestinian villages. Ariel receives more money than other places in Israel.
There is a conference at Ariel conf tomorrow. Gush shalom is calling for a boycott of this conference. American Jewish activist Lawrence Davidson has dubbed it “criminal criminology”.
We should not forget that our Palestinian colleagues believe that the exclusive focus on settlement institutions obscures the call against all israeli institutions.
1733. Ronnie Fraser. I would like to remind proposers of this motion they ignore UCU’s legal advice. Distributing and promoting the call for a boycott is in breach of legislation. outside the aims of our union. if this is adopted and the NEC distributes the boycott cal then it is in breach of the Equality Act 2010.
If any UCU officer or member of the NEC were to raise the matter of the boycott the union will be once again guilty and in breach of the equality legislation. The Legal advice also prevents us supporting a call for a boycott by others.
This affects me now. I hold a position at an Israeli university.
Motion 36 contains a relentless unique attack against the Jewish state. And almost everything stated in the motion is false.
Any state has the right to penalise those involved in boycotts against it.
Chair: stop now please.
Ronnie asks to raise a point of order.
No, says the chair.
Chair: “you need to stop now and if you do not stop I will ask for your microphone to be cut”. You can raise a point of order later”
Next a delegate named “David” by the Chair. He made an emotional speech. He said that some settlers in the West Bank are against the wall, saying that they wanted to build houses on the land taken up by the wall. He said they wanted to build from the Nile to the Euphrates. “This is an expansionist people” he said.
Camila Bassi – motion is unbalanced. No criticism of Hamas, which prevented people from protesting in support of the Egyptian uprising
Mike Cushman: We have been misled from the platform. Don’t worry. We’re not going to be sued. You can stand up for justice and it won’t cost you.
Ronnie Fraser, point of order. The legal advice made it clear that calling for boycott would expose us to legal action. I ask that the following points be withdrawn as they are asking the members of the NEC to break the law.
Paul cotteril: if any of the motions would have raised legal issues, congress would have been so advised.
Big round of applause.
Move to the vote.
Very clearly carried. (as many as 10 people voted against the motion). Maybe half a dozen abstentions.
That’s it for today. Motion was overwhelmingly carried as we knew it would be.
The claim that some of the settlers want to occupy all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates was extra-ordinary. His claim then that “This is an expansionist people” is an antisemitic claim.
Same time tomorrow. Sorry for the rushed and incomplete notes.