Wednesday, May 28, 2008

UCU hits back on the 'boycott' hysteria.

I am told that the UCU has overwhelmingly passed three pro-Palestinian motions, an excellent development, particularly since they specifically rebut the storm of hysteria and legal threats raised over the previous 'boycott' motion. Here are the three motions:

SFC10 Composite: Palestine and the occupation University of Brighton – Eastbourne, University of Brighton – Grand Parade, University of East London Docklands, National Executive Committee
Congress notes the
1. continuation of illegal settlement, killing of civilians and the impossibility of civil life, including education;
2. humanitarian catastrophe imposed on Gaza by Israel and the EU;
3. apparent complicity of most of the Israeli academy;
4. legal attempts to prevent UCU debating boycott of Israeli academic institutions; and legal advice that such debates are lawful
Congress affirms that
5. criticism of Israel or Israeli policy are not, as such, anti-semitic;
6. pursuit and dissemination of knowledge are not uniquely immune from their moral and political consequences;
Congress resolves that
7. colleagues be asked 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;
8. UCU widely disseminate the personal testimonies of UCU and PFUUPE delegations to Palestine and the UK, respectively;
9. the testimonies will be used to promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions;
10. UCU facilitate and encourage twinning arrangements and other direct solidarity with Palestinian institutions;
11. Ariel College, an explicitly colonising institution in the West Bank, be investigated under the formal Greylisting Procedure.

SFC11 Gaza emergency University College London

Congress notes
1. The humanitarian catastrophe that developed in
Gaza in March 2008, following a long siege and military bombardment, during which over 100 people died.
2. The call by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) to international trade unions to put pressure on their own governments to take action to stop the escalation of violence and relieve the humanitarian crisis.
3. Students and academics have been among those trapped in

Congress resolves
To organise a fact-finding delegation to
Gaza after the bombing stops and to send delegates on future TUC-sponsored visits.

SFC12 Palestine National Executive Committee

Congress notes the report of the Trade Union Delegation to Palestine in January 2008, facilitated by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in which 4 representatives of UCU took part.

Congress notes that the delegation was generously hosted in Nablus by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions.

Congress deplores the failure of the Israeli Histadrut to pay the approximately 2.5 million Euros owed to the PGFTU since 1995, representing 50% of the official organisational dues of Palestinian workers working in Israel, under the terms of the Framework Agreement of March 1995 following the Oslo Accords of 1993.

Congress calls on the Histadrut to pay the dues owed to the PGFTU; to call for an end to the siege of Gaza; and to call for an end to the occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territory.

The Israeli press are reporting this as a clear resuscitation of the previous 'boycott' motion, although in fact there was never an actual motion to boycott, only a motion to facilitate a debate on the possibility of a boycott. The UK Press Association describes the conference as 'urging' a boycott. Melanie Phillips, bless her bigoted witch-hunting socks, considers it a witch-hunt against the Jews. It has to be good if it's winding these idiots up.

One other piece of good news from the conference. They also voted overwhelmingly to try and stop the deportation of Hicham Yezza, who is due to be deported on Sunday. There was also some pressure on the University administration, whose conduct has been quite shameful (see this, for example). The main event will presumably be when it comes to discussions of future strike action - I would expect to see a big vote for industrial action.