A seminar outlining the pros and cons of an academic boycott of Israel will be held on the 16 of November in Glasgow by the Scottish University College Union (UCU), the Scottish chapter of the union of academics, lecturers, etc. Dr Alastair Hunter of the University of Glasgow will outline the cons, Professor Emeritus Jonathan Rosenhead, London School of Economics, and chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, will discuss the pros. The UCU received legal advice that it would be unlawful for UCU to support a boycott, but the attendees will be able to discuss and consider the subject further.
Outside the academy, there were a number of boycott procedures in the last several years. In March 2013 Clackmannanshire, one of Scotland's smallest councils has taken the decision to boycott Israel, comparing it to South Africa during its apartheid period. Its motion stated "Clackmannanshire Council condemns the Government of Israel for its continuing illegal occupation of Palestine's East Jerusalem and the West Bank and for its continuing illegal blockade of Gaza." In August 2014, the Scottish government issued a procurement notice to local authorities which "strongly discourages trade and investment from illegal settlements". Following this non-binding notice, four Scottish councils Clackmannanshire, Midlothian, Stirling and West Dunbartonshire voted for a boycott of ALL Israeli goods. In October 2015 Scotland’s Green Party passed a motion calling for the boycott of Israel and the removal of Hamas from a European Union list of terrorist organizations.
But in February 2016 the British Government published a press release "Putting a stop to public procurement boycotts." It noted that the "Guidance published today makes clear that procurement boycotts by public authorities are inappropriate, outside where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government. " More specifically, it stated that "Town hall boycotts undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate, weakening integration and fuelling anti-Semitism. Locally imposed boycotts can roll back integration as well as hinder Britain’s export trade and harm international relationship. All contracting authorities will be impacted by this new guidance including central government, executive agencies, non-departmental public bodies, the wider public sector, local authorities and NHS bodies. Any public body found to be in breach of the regulations could be subject to severe penalties."
Still, in June 2016 the general assembly of the Scottish University College Union debated a motion that "seeks to commit the union to support for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel." But the Union has "received legal advice from leading counsel that it would be unlawful for the union to call for or support such a boycott. Past motions on this subject have been passed by Congress but then on legal advice have been declared void and of no effect."
As stated in the British Government press release, the connection between the calls for boycott of Israel and the rise of antisemitism is unmistakable. In July 2016 a two-year study was published, titled "What’s Changed About Being Jewish in Scotland", it has found that public attitudes have changed dramatically in the past two years, with many Scots now scared to reveal their Jewish identity. The report was commissioned by the Scottish Government and was carried out by The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities. The report blamed an “unbalanced political comment”, lack of confidence in the police and widespread anti-Israel sentiments.
The UCU seminar is going ahead and pro-Israel members should attend the debate. Attendees must be UCU Scotland members and should register in advance by Monday 7 November.
Seminar on academic boycott
Oct 13th, 2016 | By pammcg | Category: News
Following a decision taken at UCU Scotland Congress we are organising a seminar considering the pros and cons of an academic boycott of Israeli universities. The seminar will take place at 2.00pm on Wednesday 16 November 2016 at the STUC offices in Glasgow. The seminar will hear from two speakers outlining the pros and cons of an academic boycott. Dr Alastair Hunter, Honorary Research Fellow (Theology and Religious Studies), University of Glasgow, and former president of UCU Scotland will outline the cons, and Professor Emeritus Jonathan Rosenhead, London School of Economics, and chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, the pros. After hearing from the speakers there will be a discussion, chaired by the chair of UCU Scotland’s education committee, where attendees will be able to discuss and consider the subject further. The seminar will take place in the context of UCU’s legal advice that it would be unlawful for UCU to support a boycott.
Branches are encouraged to invite members to register to attend. Attendees must be UCU Scotland members and should register in advance. To register e-mail email@example.com
by Monday 7 November 2016.
Business of the Strategy and Finance Committee 2016 (open session)
UCU Congress 2016: Wednesday a June 2016, 10:15-12:30 (open session)
Motions have been allocated to a section of the NEC's report to Congress (UCU712
). Paragraph headings refer to paragraphs within this report. CBC has added some new paragraph headings to facilitate the ordering of motions.
Section 1 of the NEC's report to Congress
The General Secretary has asked CBC to draw Congress delegates' attention to motion 9 and its amendments.
In its unam'ended form the motion seeks to commit the union to support for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. The union has received legal advice from leading counsel that it would be unlawful for the union to call for or support such a boycott. Past motions on this subject have been passed by Congress but then on legal advice have been declared void and of no effect. In order to protect the interests of the union and its Trustees, the same declaration will be made again should the motion be passed with the boycott reference remaining.
Delegates should note that UCU can support only those aspects of the BDS campaign which it can lawfully implement, such as, for example, urging members not to buy goods produced in the Israeli occupied territories (which is TUC policy). It cannot support the academic and cultural boycott element of BDS. Any reference to UCU support for BDS must be clearly understood and operated within that legal limitation.
9 Palestine, UCU policy, and Israel's propaganda offensive - University of Brighton, Grand Parade
- government guidance deterring local authority boycotts of unethical companies;
- 'counter-radicalisation' to prevent campus criticism of Israel, and boycott of complicit institutions
- orchestrated conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism
- the drive by Israel to access UK campuses for state propaganda via faux debates with selected critics
- escalating legal threats and diplomatic pressure to intimidate Israel's critics: including UCU Congress votes for BDS (2010), non-conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism (2011), and against contact with Histadrut (2010).
- BDS responds to Western governments' failure to hold Israel accountable for war crimes and international law violations
- scholars have a duty to ensure voices of the oppressed are not silenced on campuses.
- reaffirms its support for BDS, and for the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions
- requires union officers to uphold Congress decisions when acting in their UCU capacity, and to resile from such external positions as create conflicts of interest.
Carried unam'ended - declared void and of no effect due to legal advice
9A.1 National Executive Committee
Delete ', and for the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions' from Congress believes i.
9A.2 National Executive Committee
Delete ', and to resile from such external positions as create conflicts of interest' from Congress believes ii.
10 Scholarships for Palestinian and Syrian students - National Executive Committee
Congress welcomes the establishment by the STUC, with the support of UCU Scotland, of the Scottish Universities Supporting Palestinian Students (SUSPS) scheme, as well as similar, long-established fee waiver schemes at other UK universities.
Congress also welcomes UK-funded initiatives, such as the scholarships provided through the Friends of Birzeit University, to enable Palestinian students to access higher education in Palestine.
Congress also welcomes recent initiatives by a number of UK universities to provide humanitarian scholarships for Syrian refugee students to study in the UK and calls for additional public funding for these schemes.
Congress calls on UCU, nationally and locally, to help promote and extend these important scholarship initiatives.
Page 1 of 5
Scottish Procurement Policy Note
Date 22 August 2014
PUBLIC PROCUREMENT AND ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS
1. The purpose of this Scottish Procurement Policy Note (“SPPN”) is to provide
purchasers with advice on the options available to them when dealing with
companies active in illegal settlements.
2. The key points are as follows:
• The Scottish Government expects companies that are awarded public
contracts to maintain high standards of business and professional
• The Scottish Government strongly discourages trade and investment from
illegal settlements. A decision to exclude a company from a public
procurement exercise on the basis of its involvement in such a settlement
has, however, to be taken in compliance with procurement legislation;
• For a company to be excluded from competition it will have had to have
been convicted of a specific offence and/or committed an act of grave
misconduct in the course of its business;
• Exploitation of assets in illegal settlements is likely to be regarded as
constituting “grave professional misconduct” for the purposes of
• Decisions should be taken on a case by case basis and appropriate legal
advice should be sought.
3. Recent events in Israel and the Gaza Strip have led to calls for companies
active in illegal settlements to be excluded from competition for public contracts. This
note seeks to provide advice to purchasers on the options open to them in relation to
4. Israel is an associate member of the EU and is a signatory to the World Trade
Organisation’s (“WTO”) Government Procurement Agreement. The WTO agreement
contains obligations that ensure that companies from signatory countries have
equivalent rights of access to bid for public contracts in the EU as EU-registered
companies, as well as equivalent rights of redress to the courts in the event of
discriminatory treatment or another breach of these rights (reg 47(1) & (2) Public
Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2012 – “the 2012 Regulations”). Signatory
countries to this Agreement as at the time of the publication of the Policy Note can
be found as an Annex.
5. On 1 June 2014, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (“FCO”) published an
Overseas Business Risk report providing information on key security and political
risks which UK businesses may face when operating in Israel 1. On 22 July 2014, the
FCO published an Overseas Business Risk report on key security and political risks
which UK businesses may face when operating in the Occupied Palestinian
Territories 2 . Both these Reports set out the Scottish and UK Governments’ clear
position on Israeli settlements; the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and
the Golan Heights are territories which have been occupied by Israel since 1967 and
are illegal under international law. In addition the Scottish and UK Governments do
not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to
Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.
Dealing with companies which are active in illegal settlements
6. With respect to public procurement, the Scottish Government expects
companies that are awarded public contracts in Scotland maintain high standards of
business and professional conduct. Exploitation of assets in illegal settlements by a
company (irrespective of where that company is registered) is likely to be regarded
as constituting “grave professional misconduct” for the purposes of procurement law
and where evidence of this exists, a purchaser may be able to exclude the company
from a public tendering exercise by virtue of reg 23(4)(e) of the 2012 Regulations.
7. Purchasers considering an exclusion on such grounds should satisfy
themselves that the decision is proportionate in relation to the nature and scale of
the offence. This means that decisions need to be taken on a case by case basis,
and where doubt exists, legal advice should be sought.
8. As a matter of practice, as opposed to procurement legislation or policy, any
public body which is considering entering into contract with an Israeli based
company may wish to seek appropriate assurances that the company is not actively
involved in illegal settlements as defined in the FCO guidance referenced above.
Furthermore, if a contracting authority is considering purchasing goods or produce
originating in Israel, it may wish to seek assurances that they have not been
produced in illegal settlements.
9. In the absence of such assurances, and where a purchaser has a
well-founded concern that goods or produce it is procuring have been produced in
illegal Israeli settlements, legal advice should be sought to determine whether
grounds exist which would warrant exclusion from a competition of that bidder.
Purchasers may find guidance on the European Commission’s website 3
and a paper produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2009 4
useful to assist in identifying the location of origin of imports from Israel into the Union.
10. Public bodies are asked to note the advice provided in this SPPN.
11. Please bring this SPPN to the attention of all relevant staff, including those in
Agencies, Non-Departmental Public Bodies and other sponsored public bodies within
your area of responsibility.
12. If you have any enquiries about this SPPN or would like to discuss the issues
The Scottish Government
2nd Floor, Europa Building
450 Argyle Street
Annex to SPPN 4/ 2014
Parties to the World Trade Organisation’s Government
Date of entry into force/accession
Armenia 15 Sep 2011 Pending
Canada 1 Jan 1996 6 Apr 2014
European Union with regard to its 28 member states: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom 1 Jan 1996 6 Apr 2014
Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovak Republic and Slovenia 1 May 2004
Bulgaria and Romania 1 Jan 2007
Croatia 1 Jul 2013
Hong Kong , China 19 Jun 1997 6 Apr 2014
Iceland 28 Apr 2001 6 Apr 2014
Israel 1 Jan 1996 6 Apr 2014
Japan 1 Jan 1996 16 Apr 2014
Korea, Republic of 1 Jan 1997 Pending
Liechtenstein 18 Sep 1997 6 Apr 2014
Netherlands with respect to Aruba 25 Oct 1996 4 July 2014
Norway 1 Jan 1996 6 Apr 2014
Singapore 20 Oct 1997 6 Apr 2014
Switzerland 1 Jan 1996 Pending
Chinese Taipei 15 Jul 2009 6 Apr 2014
United States 1 Jan 1996 6 Apr 2014
Putting a stop to public procurement boycotts
First published: 17 February 2016
The government has published new guidance that aims to stop inappropriate procurement boycotts by public authorities.
Published:Guidance published today makes clear that procurement boycotts by public authorities are inappropriate, outside where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government.
Town hall boycotts undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate, weakening integration and fuelling anti-Semitism.
Locally imposed boycotts can roll back integration as well as hinder Britain’s export trade and harm international relationship.
All contracting authorities will be impacted by this new guidance including central government, executive agencies, non-departmental public bodies, the wider public sector, local authorities and NHS bodies. Any public body found to be in breach of the regulations could be subject to severe penalties.
The World Trade Organisation Government Procurement Agreement – an international market access agreement – requires all those countries that have signed up to the Agreement to treat suppliers equally. This includes the EU and Israel. Any discrimination against Israeli suppliers involving procurements would therefore be in breach of the Agreement.
The guidance published today complements existing government guidance about trading or investing overseas (including with Israel), where we advise UK businesses to consider any potential legal and economic risks of doing so. It is also in line with the government’s existing policy of support for clear and transparent labelling of settlement products to ensure that individual consumers are able to make informed choices before they buy.
Cabinet Office Minister, Matthew Hancock said:
We need to challenge and prevent these divisive town hall boycotts. The new guidance on procurement combined with changes we are making to how pension pots can be invested will help prevent damaging and counter-productive local foreign policies undermining our national security.
We support UK local authorities, businesses and individual consumers alike in making informed choices about how they procure services and products from overseas