Thursday, May 31, 2007

Universities and Israel

The Universities and Colleges' Union have issued a 'clarification' of the vote at yesterday's congress. The main web page states

The motion passed at UCU congress on Wednesday 30 May calls for a process of providing information and engaging in dialogue. It does not call directly for an academic boycott of any Israeli institutions. The National Executive Committee will in the near future be considering what action it should take in relation to all the motions passed at congress.

You can read the main statement by using the link in the first sentence. I am not sure that I am much the wiser, but the following does make sense:

'Today's motion on boycott means all branches now have a responsibility to consult all of their members on the issue and I believe that every member should have the opportunity to have their say. The earlier motion means that any future calls for a boycott must pass key tests before a boycott can implemented.'

So I guess that means that those who oppose the boycott, as I do, now have the chance to lobby their own branch and I have written to my branch officers today. With this fudge I would hope that the boycott is dead, but only if enough people make their views known!

Reading the text of the motions on Engage, this is hardly a disinterested campaign.

Congress instructs the NEC to
* circulate the full text of the Palestinian boycott call to all branches/Las for information and discussion;
* encourage members to consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions;
* organise a UK wide campus tour for Palestinian academic/educational trade unionists;
* issue guidance to members on appropriate forms of action

Members please vote.


Shalom Lappin provides a detailed response to the boycott motion and urges a tactic of resignation and organisation. His piece is on Normblog here. It is worth reading and careful consideration. I think my initial thoughts were too optimistic.

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