The delegates earlier overwhelmingly (just one vote against) voted to accept the recommendations of a report from a body set up in the fallout of the 2005 decision by AUT to impose an academic boycott of Israel.
That interim report accepted by the union this afternoon says: ’The commission believes, after careful consideration, and noting that we are not capable of policing the academic world in a pro-active way, that triggers for actions leading to greylisting and boycott can only result from a request from a legitimate organisation within the state, or within the occupied territory or institution in question. Legitimate organisations would include a trade union movement, a recognised higher education union or other representative organisation. Exceptionally, a decision to impose greylisting or boycotting might be taken following consultation with Education International in circumstances where legitimate organisations cannot be lawfully established within the state or institutions in question, or in circumstances where institutions or branches of institutions, are established in territories under unlawful occupation as defined by UN resolutions.
’It is recognised that this is a difficult area. We are aware of great wrongs being committed throughout the world against colleagues in other countries. But there is always a balance to be drawn between boycotting and damaging those colleagues in the hope that the state will address the harm that it is inflicting on academia, and the harm that the boycott itself inflicts on academia.’
Responding to the votes this afternoon, UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ’As I have made clear in the past, and as I reiterated on the floor of congress this morning, I do not believe a boycott is supported by the majority of UCU members, nor do I believe that members see it is a priority for the union.
’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.’
Resolution 30 Boycott of Israeli academic institutions
Congress notes that Israel’s 40-year occupation has seriously damaged the fabric of Palestinian society through annexation, illegal settlement, collective punishment and restriction of movement.
Congress deplores the denial of educational rights for Palestinians by invasions, closures, checkpoints, curfews, and shootings and arrests of teachers, lecturers and students.
Congress condemns the complicity of Israeli academia in the occupation, which has provoked a call from Palestinian trade unions for a comprehensive and consistent international boycott of all Israeli academic institutions.
Congress believes that in these circumstances passivity or neutrality is unacceptable and criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-semitic.
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;
actively encourage and support branches to create direct educational§ links with Palestinian educational institutions and to help set up nationally sponsored programmes for teacher exchanges, sabbatical placements and research.
A count was taken of the voting on this motion which was as follows:
FOR 155 [61%]
AGAINST 99 [39%]
Resolution 31 European Union and Israel
1. That since the Palestinian elections in January 2006 the Israeli government has suspended revenue payments to the Palestinian authority (PA), and the EU and US have suspended aid, leaving public-sector salaries unpaid and earning the condemnation of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions;
2. That Israel is seeking to upgrade its relations with the EU to the same level as Norway and Switzerland, permitting free passage of goods, people and capital, while denying these freedoms to Palestinians.
Congress resolves to campaign for:
1. The restoration of all international aid to the PA and all revenues rightfully belonging to it;
2. No upgrade of Israel’s status until it ends the occupation of Palestinian land and fully complies with EU Human Rights law;
3. A moratorium on research and cultural collaborations with Israel via EU and European Science Foundation funding until Israel abides by UN resolutions
Congress instructs the NEC to encourage Branches/Associations to
1. raise these campaigns in their Institutions and
2. investigate the possibilities of twinning their Institution with a Palestinian University or College
This motion was declared passed on a show of hands –with a majority visibly still higher than that for Resolution 30.