Anti Fascism

AUT Boycott Motion Passes

Guest Post by David Hirsh

The pro-boycott campaign has won the important votes at today’s council meeting.

This from the AUT website:

Israel universities – statement by AUT general secretary Sally Hunt

AUT Council today decided to boycott Haifa University and the Bar-Ilan University.
The executive committee will issue guidance to AUT members on these decisions.
Council delegates also referred a call to boycott the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the executive committee will investigate the background to this and will report in due course.
Council delegates also agreed to circulate to all local associations a statement from Palestinian organisations calling for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions.

The pro-boycott campaign was trying to win AUT to a boycott of three universities as a tactical manoueuvre, since it did not think that it could win a total boycott.

Haifa University is to be boycotted because Ilan Pappe, who is an anti-Zionist academic there, says that he has come under attack from the university which has thereby infringed his academic freedom. The story is long, involved and complex. But Pappe remains in his job, in spite of the fact that his views are extremely unpopular in Israeli society. Let us hope that the university continues to respect his tenure, as it is now doing.

Bar-Ilan University is to be boycotted because it gives legitimacy to the ‘College of Judea and Samaria’, which is a settler college in the West Bank.

The Hebrew University is under threat of boycott because it has built a new dorm block on a disputed piece of land.

It is clear that these stories relating to these three universities are excuses for the boycott rather than reasons – the pro-boycotters actually want to boycott all of Israeli academia and are not actually concerned with these particular incidents.

The AUT has agreed to circulate detailed calls for a full academic boycotts of Israel.
To many, this circulation of a calls for boycott will be indistinguishable from an actual AUT policy of boycott.

The conduct of the debate was described as follows:

The motions were proposed as a block , with a series of speeches proposing them in very hostile language. The chair then moved straight to a vote
without any opposing debate – the claim was on the grounds of time. The votes were passed with small majorities.

The person who gave me this account had intended to speak against, was surprised and upset by the conduct and said it seemed very undemocratic.

The first thing we need to do is to demand that the argument against the boycott is circulated with the argument for the boycott.

A number of people have already said that they are preparing to tear up their AUT cards in anger. The pro-boycotters intend this decision to be the first step on the road to a total boycott of Israeli academia. Don’t tear up your AUT card. Encourage your colleagues to join AUT. And we’ll have fight to reverse this decision. And we’ll win it. Most academics and most AUT members will oppose this ill-judged decision.