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Monday, May 29, 2006

Britain's NATFHE union votes to boycott Israel

Britain's 69,000 member National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) has voted to boycott Israel over what its members called "apartheid" policies toward 'Palestinians', saying that union members will refuse to cooperate with Israeli academics who do not "disassociate themselves from such policies."

The teachers were meeting at their annual convention in Blackpool (what an appropriate name!) in Northern England. Two parts of the motion passed with a show of hands while a third went to a vote. Under the boycott, union members also will not submit articles to Israeli research papers.

Another British faculty union, The British Association of University Teachers, voted last year to boycott Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities, charging them with complicity in Israel's "suppression of the Palestinians." The association's council reversed the decision after objections by leading scholars and academic organizations.

NATFHE and the AUT are due to merge next month and any decisions made by the unions prior to the merger - including the NAFTHE vote in favor of boycotting Israeli academics - will be automatically nullified by the merger.

In other words, as disgraceful as this vote is, for the time being it is apparently symbolic and meaningless.

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