US House of Representatives denounces UK union boycotts of Israel

Those in the UK who have pushed through, and now try to downplay, the various boycott-Israel resolutions, as well as those who assure us they’re nothing to get excited about, may be interested to know that the boycotts were condemned Wednesday by the US House of Representatives.

The resolution, approved by a unanimous voice vote (I have no idea how many of the 435 members actually participated), reads in part:

Whereas these unions have a hypocritical double standard in condemning Israel, a free and democratic state, while completely ignoring gross human rights abuses occurring throughout the Middle East and around the world;

Whereas Article 19, section 2, of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that, “Everyone shall have the right to . . . receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”;

Whereas these and other attempts to stifle intellectual freedom through the imposition of an academic boycott are morally offensive and contrary to the values of freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry;

Whereas American Nobel laureate Prof. Steven Weinberg refused to participate in a British academic conference due to the National Union of Journalist’s boycott and stated that he perceived “a widespread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic current in British opinion”; and

Whereas the senseless boycotting of Israeli academics contributes to the demonization and attempted delegitimization of the State of Israel: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) condemns the vote by the leadership of the University and College Union of May 30, 2007, to consider at the branch level a boycott of Israeli academics and academic institutions;

(2) urges the international scholarly community, the European Union, and individual governments, to reject, or continue to oppose vigorously, calls for an academic boycott of Israel;

(3) urges educators and governments throughout the world, especially democratically-elected governments, to reaffirm the importance of academic freedom;

(4) urges other unions and organizations to reject the troubling and disturbing actions of the UCU leadership; and

(5) urges the general members of the UCU to reject the call of the union’s leadership to boycott Israel.

Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas was among the backers of the resolution.

Now despite her liberal voting record, Jackson-Lee, who represents a low-income part of Houston, is not one of my favorite members of Congress. I admire her for being arrested last year outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington while protesting the genocide in Darfur. But in February she visited Venezuela and proclaimed herself a friend of that increasingly-authoritarian country.

She has been a consistent and harsh critic (pdf) of the US invasion of Iraq.

So when she accuses the UCU of antisemitism, even “anti-imperialists” ought to pay attention.

(Hat tip: Judeosphere.)

Update: Despite the report of a voice vote, it appears there was a recorded vote on the resolution: 414 votes “yes,” 0 votes “no,” 2 votes “present” and 15 not voting.

The two votes “present” were by Republicans Ron Paul (a candidate for President) and Mac Thornberry of Texas. The “leftwing” boycott advocates in the UK should know that the AFL-CIO ranks Paul and Thornberry among the most rightwing and anti-union members of Congress.

(Hat tip: David Boothroyd in the comments.)