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Thursday, May 29, 2008

British academic union to consider 'moral implications' of ties with Israel

Britain's University and College Union voted on Wednesday to consider the 'moral implications' of its ties with Israel. The vote paves the way for a renewed boycott of Israeli academics and universities despite legal advice that such a boycott would violate Britain's own anti-discrimination laws.
The University and College Union (UCU), the largest trade union and professional for academics and lecturers working throughout the UK, called on its members Wednesday to "consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating."

The motion, which was passed at the UCU's annual congress in Manchester, noted the "continuation of the illegal settlement eneterprise, killing of civilians and the humanitarian catastrophe imposed on Gaza by Israel and the EU'.

If UCU were to implement the motion, it would encourage its 160,000 members to consider cutting off links with Israeli academic institutions - most of these links are with individual Israeli academics such as research partnerships, peer review of papers, or academic conferences.

Philosophy Professor Tom Hickey, who headed the initiative, said Wednesday that the call was not to boycott Israeli academies altogether, but rather for the lecturers to reevaluate their ties with Israeli institutions, given the situation in Gaza.

The matter, he said, was in the early stages of discussion. The UCU still has to conduct serious discussion prior to any decision on an overall academic embargo.
In Wednesday's Daily Spectator, Melanie Phillips discusses what the UCU resolution means (Hat Tip: Shy Guy).

The implication is that, if they don’t condemn Israel for the ‘occupation’, or practising ‘apartheid’, ‘genocide’ or any of the other manufactured crimes laid at Israel’s door by the Palestinian/Islamist/neonazi/leftwing axis, they won’t be able to work. Their continued employment will depend on their holding views which are permitted. The views they are being bludgeoned into expressing as a condition of their employment are based on lies, distortion, propaganda, gross historical ignorance, blood libels and prejudice. And this in the universities, supposedly the custodians of free thought and inquiry in the service of dispassionate scholarship.

What makes it all the more appalling is that it is Israelis and Jews alone who are being singled out for this treatment. No other group is to be barred from academic activity unless they hold ‘approved’ views; no state-run educational institution controlled by any of the world’s numerous tyrannies is to be ‘grey-listed’. The UCU’s own rules state that it

actively opposes all forms of harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination.

Well, various Jewish groups in the Stop the Boycott campaign have obtained a legal opinion from two QCs which states that today’s motion constitutes harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination on grounds of race or nationality. It says:

If the Motion is passed it would expose Jewish members of the Union to indirect discrimination... Additionally, the Union faces potential liability for acts of harassment on grounds of race or nationality. The substance of the Motion may also involve the Union in becoming accessories to acts of discrimination in an employment context against Israeli academics...No doubt, if such Israeli academics speak in favour of the Palestinian viewpoint they will be immune from further action; if they are against it or possibly even non-committal they and their institutions are to be considered potentially unsuitable subjects for continued association...

The Union will accordingly be adopting a provision, criterion or practice which will put Jewish members at a particular disadvantage compared to non-Jewish members. That is because Jewish members are much more likely to have links with Israeli academics and institutions than non -Jewish members. To require Jewish members to act consistently with the Motion (if passed) would be to impose a professional detriment upon them as Union members which is based on their race. If they acted inconsistently with the Motion, we infer that they would also be subject to disadvantage or sanction under the Union rules or practices -- an alternative detriment. We do not see how any such detriment would be justified as pursuing a legitimate aim. No proper Union purpose is promoted by imposing this detriment on certain members. Thus the Motion will have the effect of indirectly -- and unlawfully -- against Jewish Members of the Union.

The opinion is thus unequivocal. Today’s motion breaks the law; it breaks the UCU’s own rules; it is prejudiced, discriminatory and unjust towards Israelis and Jews.
If this is what happens now, imagine what will happen in thirty years when Britain is an Islamic state.

7 Comments:

At 4:38 AM, Blogger Kae Gregory said...

The British attitude toward Israel is contrived, cowardly and shameful. They seek to fend off being eaten themselves by whimperingly feeding the parasite something else. Eventually the parasite will grow big enough to eat whatever it wants.

 
At 8:15 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Kae Gregory,

My impression is that the British government also continues to have a sense of shame for their actions here during the Mandate and that many of the elites hope that if Israel goes away they won't feel guilty anymore.

 
At 8:57 AM, Blogger Findalis said...

Didn't they try this a year ago and didn't American Universities say that there would be a boycott of British Universities?

Nothing changes in academia I see.

 
At 9:03 AM, Blogger Kae Gregory said...

Good point.

 
At 12:07 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Findalis,

Yes, they tried it, but they didn't back down because of the Americans. They backed down because it's illegal under English law.

 
At 3:14 AM, Blogger YITZI said...

My friends,

Anti-semitism is alive and well. How many times did they throw the Jews out?

The Jews should have acted like the Muslims - they would own the Brits by now!

 
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