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UK: University College Union Dissociates from the Working Definition of Antisemitism

07.06.17

Editorial Note

Last week, the European Parliament voted in favor of endorsing the Working Definition of Antisemitism (WDA) of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), drawing praises from Jewish groups. The resolution calls on EU member states, institutions and agencies to adopt and apply the WDA, which in December 2016 was adopted by the British Government. 

The WDA defines antisemitsm as follows: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” The WDA also lists several examples of antisemitic cases. To prevent accusations of shutting up criticism of Israel the definition includes, "However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic." 

Yet, the British University and College Union (UCU), which represents over 110,000 academics across the UK, voted to dissociate itself from the WDA.  The vote was taken during the UCU's congress which met on Monday 29 May 2017. 

This should come as no surprise, the UCU has been considered a hotbed for anti-Israel attitudes at least since 2005.  Under its previous name, Association of University Teachers (AUT), it  voted to boycott University of Haifa and Bar-Ilan University because of alleged violations of human rights and academic freedoms. Eventually this decision was overturned. 

 


Some blame this bias on Sally Hunt, the general secretary since 2002.  In 2012 the group Academic Friends of Israel had warned that the "union's stance on Israel under Ms Hunt had left supporters of Israel 'between a rock and a hard place'. UCU has adopted 16 anti-Israel resolutions under her leadership", according to the group.

The UCU congress explained its dissociation from WDA, that the definition "conflates anti-semitism with criticism of the state of Israel and has been used to intimidate academics who are engaged in activities that are critical of the policies of the Israeli government but that are not anti-semitic." It also rejected "government-inspired attempts to ban Palestine solidarity events, naming Israel Apartheid Week."

The UCU congress also boasted that the UCU has an "exemplary anti-racist work," in particular its "Holocaust Memorial Day materials". A quick search in the UCU website, reveals what the Holocaust Memorial Day means to the organization. It states that the "UCU commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) observed annually on 27 January. It does so in memory of the millions who were murdered in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, Darfur and Rwanda in order to challenge hatred and persecution in the UK today."

It should be pointed out that the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), and the new Jewish-led Free Speech on Israel, two radical anti-Israel groups, have taken credit for the decision, writing that their "model resolution has been adopted by UCU Congress."   The groups include long-standing pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activists Jonathan Rosenhead, Mike Cushman, Sue Blackwell, and Tom Hickey. 

It is now left to the British government to enforce the WDA on the UCU.









Business of the Equality Committee 2017

UCU Congress 2017: Monday 29 May 2017, 09:00-11:00.
Motions have been allocated to a section of the NEC's report to Congress (UCU785Opens new window). Paragraph headings refer to paragraphs within this report. CBC has added some new paragraph headings to facilitate the ordering of motions.

Section 5 of the NEC's report to Congress

Motions:



https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/8802/Business-of-the-Equality-Committee-2017#57

New paragraph, Anti-semitism


57  Composite: International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism - University of Leeds, Goldsmiths, University of London, University of Brighton, Grand Parade

Congress notes:
  1. UCU's exemplary anti-racist work, eg. Holocaust Memorial Day materials
  2. policy (2011) dissociating UCU from the 'EUMC working definition' of anti-semitism
  3. that government has formally adopted the IHRA definition of anti-semitism
  4. that this definition and close similarity between IHRA and EUMC definitions conflates anti-semitism with criticism of the state of Israel and has been used to intimidate academics who are engaged in activities that are critical of the policies of the Israeli government but that are not anti-semitic
  5. government-inspired attempts to ban Palestine solidarity events, naming Israel Apartheid Week.
Congress re-affirms:
  1. UCU's condemnation of all forms of racial or religious hatred or discrimination
  2. UCU's commitment to free speech and academic freedom
  3. the importance of open campus debate on Israel/Palestine.
Congress resolves that UCU dissociates itself from the IHRA definition.
Congress instructs:
  1. NEC to contact all members in a dedicated communication urging report to NEC of all repressive uses of the IHRA definition
  2. conduct research about the implications of the use of the IHRA definition
  3. general secretary to write to VCs/principals urging staff protection from malicious accusations, and freedom of political criticism
  4. president to issue, and circulate to members, a detailed press statement on UCU's criticism of the IHRA definition
  5. lobby government to seek a review of its endorsement of the IHRA definition and to replace it with one that will both protect free speech and combat anti-semitism.
CARRIED
57A.1  Queen's University Belfast
Under 'Congress notes',
Insert after point 2.:
'3.        the close similarity between the IHRA and EUMC definitions, including their conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel;'
Renumber subsequent points accordingly.
Delete from existing point 4:
'and close similarity between IHRA and EUMC definitions'
In existing point 5, replace 'Israel Apartheid Week' by 'Israeli Apartheid Week'.
Add new point after existing point 5:
'The legal opinion from Hugh Tomlinson QC, obtained by PSC and other groups, characterising the IHRA definition as confusing, not legally binding, and putting public bodies that use it at risk of 'unlawfully restricting legitimate expressions of political opinion'.'
Add after 'Congress resolves that UCU dissociates itself from the IHRA definition':
'and will make no use of it (eg. in educating members or dealing with internal complaints)'
CARRIED
57A.2  London Retired Members Branch
Add at end:
'Recalling the experience of Fraser vs UCU, we call upon the NEC to take a position against any university management that reacts to spurious accusations of anti-semitism by banning speakers who are opposed to the policies of the state of Israel but who have not in any way expressed racism against Jewish people.'
CARRIED
Substantive motion
Congress notes:
  1. UCU's exemplary anti-racist work, eg. Holocaust Memorial Day materials
  2. policy (2011) dissociating UCU from the 'EUMC working definition' of anti-semitism
  3. the close similarity between the IHRA and EUMC definitions, including their conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel
  4. that government has formally adopted the IHRA definition of anti-semitism
  5. that this definition conflates anti-semitism with criticism of the state of Israel and has been used to intimidate academics who are engaged in activities that are critical of the policies of the Israeli government but that are not anti-semitic
  6. government-inspired attempts to ban Palestine solidarity events, naming Israeli Apartheid Week
  7. The legal opinion from Hugh Tomlinson QC, obtained by PSC and other groups, characterising the IHRA definition as confusing, not legally binding, and putting public bodies that use it at risk of 'unlawfully restricting legitimate expressions of political opinion'.
Congress re-affirms:
  1. UCU's condemnation of all forms of racial or religious hatred or discrimination
  2. UCU's commitment to free speech and academic freedom
  3. the importance of open campus debate on Israel/Palestine.
Congress resolves that UCU dissociates itself from the IHRA definition and will make no use of it (eg. in educating members or dealing with internal complaints).
Congress instructs:
  1. NEC to contact all members in a dedicated communication urging report to NEC of all repressive uses of the IHRA definition
  2. conduct research about the implications of the use of the IHRA definition
  3. general secretary to write to VCs/principals urging staff protection from malicious accusations, and freedom of political criticism
  4. president to issue, and circulate to members, a detailed press statement on UCU's criticism of the IHRA definition
  5. lobby government to seek a review of its endorsement of the IHRA definition and to replace it with one that will both protect free speech and combat anti-semitism.
Recalling the experience of Fraser vs UCU, we call upon the NEC to take a position against any university management that reacts to spurious accusations of anti-semitism by banning speakers who are opposed to the policies of the state of Israel but who have not in any way expressed racism against Jewish people.


===================================================


Home Page

UCU Congress rejects "confusing" IHRA definition of antisemitism

BRICUP's model resolution has been adopted by UCU Congress, no doubt to the dismay of the Board of Deputies and other sections of the Israel lobby.


 Bricup
British Committee for the Universities of Palestine              
and          
FSoI
Free Speech on Israel
 
Press Release
for immediate release - 29th May 2017
 
UCU Congress rejects "confusing" definition of antisemitism
Support for Palestinian professor denied entry to Israel
 
 
Free Speech on Israel, a Jewish-led organisation which defends the right to criticise Israel, and the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, which campaigns for academic and cultural boycott of Israel, today welcomed the vote by the University and College Union (UCU) to reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.
 
Motion 57, submitted by UCU branches at the University of Leeds, Goldsmiths,  and the University of Brighton, along with two strengthening amendments fromQueen’s University Belfast and London Retired Members Branch, was carried overwhelmingly in the closing minutes of UCU's annual Congress in Brighton.  Only one delegate spoke against the motion.
 
UCU had previously, in 2011, rejected the "Working Definition of Antisemitism" of the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC).  The IHRA definition strongly resembles the EUMC version.  Today's vote strengthens UCU's existing policy.
 
Both these definitions are considered highly problematic because they seek to conflate criticism of Israel with genuine anti-Jewish racism: examples cited in them make explicit reference to Israel.  The UK Government has adopted the IHRA definition, and in February this year Universities Minister Jo Johnson wrote to Universities UK insisting that university activities must respect the definition.  In particular, he alleged that "anti-Semitic incidents ... might take place under the banner of 'Israel (sic) Apartheid' events."  Some universities have banned or curtailed campus events during Israeli Apartheid week or subsequently, and campaigners for Palestinian human rights consider that the definition is being used to censor legitimate political activity and debate which criticises the Israeli occupation and human rights abuses.
In moving the motion, Mark Abel of Brighton UCU noted that an event organised by Friends of Palestine had been cancelled by the University of Central Lancashire, who cited the IHRA definition as making the event ‘unlawful’.
Reacting to this wave of censorship the new, Jewish-led organisation Free Speech on Israel, along with Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC)Independent Jewish Voices, and Jews for Justice for Palestinians, obtained a legal Opinion from the eminent human rights lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC.
 
The Opinion is devastating: it characterises the IHRA definition as confusing, not legally binding, and putting public bodies that use it at risk of "unlawfully restricting legitimate expressions of political opinion".  A public body that bans a meeting under the IHRA definition without any evidence of genuine antisemitism could be breaching the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees freedom of expression (Article 10), and freedom of assembly (Article 11).   
In concluding his speech, Mark Abel said: "This is a dangerous conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-semitism. ... It is a definition intended to silence those who wish to puncture the Israeli state’s propaganda that it is a normal liberal democratic state."
Mike Cushman, a UCU member and co-founder of FSOI, said: "Free speech on Israel welcomes UCU's recognition that fighting antisemitism is a separate struggle from defending the rights of Palestinians, and that both these struggles are important. Putting these in opposition to each other assists both antisemites and war criminals."
 
Les Levidow, a UCU member speaking for BRICUP, said: "Congratulations to UCU for defending free speech on Israel/Palestine by rejecting the government-IHRA agenda to weaponise antisemitism, conflated with anti-Zionism."
UCU Congress also passed a motion in support of Professor Kamel Hawwash, a UCU member at the University of Birmingham, who was prevented from entering Israel on 7th April on a trip with his wife and young son to visit relatives in occupied East Jerusalem.  It seems likely that Prof. Hawwash was banned under the new Israeli boycott law, which prevents activists accused of supporting BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) from entering Israel.  Prof. Hawwash was until recently the vice-chair of PSC.  The General Secretary of UCU will now be writing to the Israeli Embassy and the FCO to urge that the ban on Prof. Hawwash and all non-violent human rights campaigners be lifted.
 
[ ends ]
---------------------------------------------------------- 
Notes for Editors
 
1. Contacts:
 
Free Speech on Israel / BRICUP:
Jonathan Rosenhead 0796 996 1775
Mike Cushman 0773 670 5294
Sue Blackwell 0792 995 3893
BRICUP: Tom Hickey 07816 921105
 
2. You can read more about the IHRA definition and censorship on campus here:
http://www.bricup.org.uk/documents/archive/BRICUPNewsletter109.pdf
The Legal opinion from Hugh Tomlinson QC can be found at:http://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/ihra-opinion/
 
 
3. Full text of Motion 57 as carried, incorporating amendments:
 
57 Composite: International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism  University of Leeds, Goldsmiths, University of London, University of Brighton, Grand Parade
 
Congress notes:
1. UCU's exemplary anti-racist work, e.g. Holocaust Memorial Day materials;
2. policy (2011) dissociating UCU from the ‘EUMC working definition’ of antisemitism;
3. the close similarity between the IHRA and EUMC definitions, including their conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel;
4. That government has formally adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism;
5. That this definition conflates anti-Semitism with criticism of the state of Israel and has been used to intimidate academics who are engaged in activities that are critical of the policies of the Israeli government but that are not anti-Semitic;
6.         Government-inspired attempts to ban Palestine solidarity events, naming Israeli Apartheid Week.
7. The legal opinion from Hugh Tomlinson QC, obtained by PSC and other groups, characterising the IHRA definition as confusing, not legally binding, and putting public bodies that use it at risk of 'unlawfully restricting legitimate expressions of political opinion'.
 
Congress re-affirms:
a. UCU's condemnation of all forms of racial or religious hatred or discrimination;
b. UCU’s commitment to free speech and academic freedom;
c. the importance of open campus debate on Israel/Palestine;
 
Congress resolves that UCU dissociates itself from the IHRA definition and will make no use of it (e.g. in educating members or dealing with internal complaints).
 
Congress instructs:
i. NEC to contact all members in a dedicated communication urging report to NEC of all repressive uses of the IHRA definition;
ii Conduct research about the implications of the use of the IHRA definition;
iii. General Secretary to write to VCs/principals urging staff protection from malicious accusations, and freedom of political criticism;
iv. President to issue, and circulate to members, a detailed press statement on UCU’s criticism of the IHRA definition;
v. Lobby government to seek a review of its endorsement of the IHRA definition and to replace it with one that will both protect free speech and combat anti-Semitism.
Recalling the experience of Fraser vs UCU, we call upon the NEC to take a position against any university management that reacts to spurious accusations of anti-semitism by banning speakers who are opposed to the policies of the State of Israel but who have not in any way expressed racism against Jewish people.
5. Full text of Motion 5:
5 Sheffield Hallam University
Congress notes with dismay that Professor Kamel Hawwash, a UCU member at the University of Birmingham, was prevented from entering Israel on 7th April on a trip with his wife and young son to visit relatives in occupied East Jerusalem.
Congress notes that Prof. Hawwash was banned under the new Israeli boycott law, which prevents activists accused of supporting BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) from entering Israel.
Congress notes that BDS is a non-violent human rights movement and believes that Israel's action is an attack on basic freedom of speech as well as on the right to family life.
Congress instructs the General Secretary to write to the Israeli Embassy and the FCO to urge that the ban on Prof. Hawwash and all non-violent human rights campaigners be lifted.
  
contact Bricup via http://www.bricup.org.uk
For information about Free Speech on Israel, visit http://freespeechonisrael.org.uk
==================================

Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 May 2007, 18:54 GMT 19:54 UK

Dons to consider Israeli boycott
By Hannah Goff 
BBC News education reporter

Sally Hunt, UCU joint general secretary
Ms Hunt urged UCU members to reject the boycott motion
Academics have backed calls for a wide-ranging debate on a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

The University and College Union (UCU) was urged, at its annual conference, to consider the "moral implications" of links with Israeli universities.

The motion condemned Israel for its "denial of educational rights" to Palestinians, but opponents said a boycott would not advance their cause.

Both the British and Israeli governments condemned the move.

 Universities are to Israel what the Springboks were to South Africa - a symbol of their national identity.  
Mike Cushman
LSE delegate
Ahead of the debate UCU general secretary Sally Hunt urged delegates not to support the boycott call.

Ms Hunt said she did not believe the majority of UCU members supported an academic boycott of Israel.

But the motion, which argued that "passivity or neutrality was unacceptable" in the special circumstances of the Israeli occupation, will require union branches to consider a potential boycott.

Philosophy lecturer at Brighton University Tom Hickey, who proposed the motion, described the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as "barbaric".

"What are we to do with this? Are we to look away? If we do we make ourselves complicit in it."

'Barbaric'

He claimed that only a "handful of academics had separated themselves from collusion with the occupation", adding that justice must not be limited to home.

But those opposing the motion argued that a boycott of Israeli academic institutions would do nothing to help the plight of the Palestinian people.

Thames Valley University delegate Stephen Desmond said a blanket boycott of Israeli universities did nothing to move a two-state solution forward.

"It does not move Palestinians to a place where Palestinians have a homeland to call their own."

But London School of Economics delegate Mike Cushman said: "Universities are to Israel what the Springboks were to South Africa - a symbol of their national identity."

'Striking difference'

University of East London delegate Philip Marfleet acknowledged the issue was a "highly charged" one and explained how he was a convert to the boycott campaign.

He said he had visited universities in Israel and in the occupied territories, and that the difference between the two was striking.

While the Israeli university was functioning well, the Palestinian university he saw had been closed for 51 consecutive weeks because of arrests and incursions by Israeli forces, he claimed.

"Israeli academic freedom comes at the cost of the denial of the most basic of academic freedoms of Palestinian students," he added.

Another delegate, Sue Blackwell from Birmingham University, described how during a visit to her campus, the mayor of the Palestinian town of Ramallah had said: "People are beginning to starve now. But for Israel it is business as usual."

Journeys across the West Bank which had taken 20 minutes now took several hours because of all the army checkpoints, Ms Blackwell said.

"It is only that change on the climate of opinion which will in the end, as it did in South Africa, create a lasting and just change in the Middle East."

Jewish groups horrified

Delegates backed the motion in a card vote by 158 votes to 99, with 17 abstentions.

A full debate on the issue is now expected within UCU branches throughout the country, with the hope that a vote on a formal boycott may be held at the union's conference next year.

But the motion's proposer Mr Hickey said it would be up to the union's management to decide how this was put into action.

If a boycott was to be agreed upon it might mean UCU members being urged not to attend conferences at Israeli universities or submit articles to their journals, he said.

It would not mean Israeli academics could not come to UK campuses.

'Palestinian bombardment'

Higher education minister Bill Rammell said he was "very disappointed" at the vote.

"I profoundly believe this does nothing to promote the Middle East peace process. In fact the reverse."

The vote has also horrified the Israeli government and Jewish groups in the UK.

Israeli education minister Yuli Tamir claimed students at an Israeli college were being "bombarded by Palestinian Qassam rockets every day".

Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the umbrella group the Jewish Leadership Council, said he would be urging Ms Hunt to ensure any steps taking the union closer to a boycott would be put to a full ballot of UCU membership.

He claimed a small group of "extreme hard-edged activists" had capitalised on a lack of leadership.


==================================================================




EU PARLIAMENT VOTES IN FAVOR OF ADOPTING ANTISEMITISM DEFINITION

BY TAMARA ZIEVE  JUNE 1, 2017 14:02 
“This is a monumental day for the fight against hate and the protection of the rights of European Jews."
         


The European Parliament on Thursday voted in favor of a resolution endorsing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, drawing praise from Jewish groups.

The resolution calls on EU Member States and the EU institutions and agencies to adopt and apply the working definition of antisemitism. The text urges members to: protect their Jewish citizens and Jewish institutions from hate crime and hate speech; support law enforcement efforts to identify and prosecute antisemitic attacks; appoint national coordinators on combating antisemitism; systematically and publicly condemn antisemitic statements; to promote education about the Holocaust in schools; and to review school textbooks to ensure that content about Jewish history and contemporary Jewish life stay clear of antisemitism.



“This is a monumental day for the fight against hate and the protection of the rights of European Jews,” Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the EJC, said. “For too long, Jews were deemed unique, with hate defined by the perpetrators and not by the victims.”

“The only people who will be dismayed by this decision are those who wish to continue the culture of antisemitic impunity and who believe that Jews should not be afforded protection under the law.”
 


The AJC Transatlantic Institute also lauded the result of the vote.

“The European Parliament must be applauded for taking this significant step toward fighting all forms of anti-Jewish hatred, including the variety that tries to hide its ugly face behind a false veneer of respectability– so-called legitimate criticism of Israel that in reality questions the very legitimacy of the Jewish state,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute. 

“Those who falsely claim the working definition limits freedom of expression are demanding the freedom to deny the Jewish people the right granted to every other people, the right to self-determination–in other words they claim the freedom to engage in anti-Semitism. Parliament has told these people today loud and clearly that this house will not tolerate anti-Semitism, whether in the open or in disguise.”

The IHRA formulated the definition last May amid concerns of rising antisemitism, in an effort to clamp down on discriminatory or prejudicial behavior that might fall between the cracks due to unclear or differing definitions of antisemitism.

The definition adopted by the group’s 31 member countries reads: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

So far, the UK, Austria, Romania and Israel have adopted the definition.


==============================================================

http://www.antisem.eu/projects/eumc-working-definition-of-antisemitism/

EUMC WORKING DEFINITION OF ANTISEMITISM
WORKING DEFINITION OF ANTISEMITISM
The purpose of this document is to provide a practical guide for identifying incidents, collecting data, and supporting the implementation and enforcement of legislation dealing with antisemitism.

Working definition: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.

Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).

Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:

Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries).

Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.

Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.

==========================================================================

Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK 
 
Lecturers overturn Israel boycott

Sue Blackwell
Lecturer Sue Blackwell promised to fight on
UK academics have voted to overturn a boycott of two Israeli universities accused of complying with anti-Palestinian polices.
Members of the Association of University Teachers had previously decided to sever all links with Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities.

The academics' body now says it is time to "build bridges" between those with opposing views and support peace moves.

The debate has caused bitter argument among academics and others worldwide.

Complaints

The council of the AUT was reconvened in central London after 25 members - the required number under the union's rules - complained about the original vote, held in Eastbourne last month.

Opponents of the boycott had complained that the debate had been curtailed and that the accusations were unfair.

Dr David Hirsh, from Goldsmiths College in London, welcomed the latest vote, saying: "A boycott is a tokenistic gesture which does more harm than good.

"The need for hard work, building links with Palestinian and Israeli academics, is less glamorous but much more important."

Pro-boycott activists accuse Haifa of mistreating politics lecturer Ilan Pappe for defending a graduate student's research into controversial areas of Israeli history.
Sally Hunt
 It is now time to build bridges between those with opposing views here  
Sally Hunt, AUT general secretary

The university denied this and threatened legal action against the AUT.

Bar-Ilan is alleged to have helped with degree programmes at a college in a settlement in the West Bank. But it insists this is autonomous.

Sue Blackwell, an English lecturer at Birmingham University and a leading pro-boycott activist, had predicted a "stitch-up" by opponents.

She said: "The struggle goes on. This is the end of the beginning.

"We are not surprised. We saw people who did not come to earlier meetings there and we knew what the outcome would be.

"We won the moral argument. They just won the vote."

Supporters of both sides gathered outside the Friends Meeting House in central London venue after the vote, which had been closed to the media.

Boycott opponents claimed three-quarters of members had voted to end the sanctions.

Luciana Berger, a member of the Union of Jewish Students, from Birkbeck, University of London, said: "We are very happy. It's a victory for peace and open dialogue.

"It's a victory that we shouldn't have had to have won in the first place."

However, Professor Steven Rose of the Open University, a boycott supporter, said the debate would lead to the state of Israeli higher education being discussed "on campuses up and down" the UK.

Sally Hunt, AUT general secretary, said: "It is now time to build bridges between those with opposing views here in the UK and to commit to supporting trade unionists in Israel and Palestine working for peace." 


======================================================================


Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK 

 Academics back Israeli boycotts
Academics have voted to boycott two Israeli universities over their alleged involvement in "illegal activity" in the occupied territories.
Members of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) decided to suspend all links with Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities.

They were complicit in a system of "apartheid" towards Palestinians, delegates at the AUT's council heard.

The votes, and lack of debate, have been condemned by pro-Israel groups.

At the AUT conference, in Eastbourne, Haifa University was accused of mistreating politics lecturer Ilan Pappe for defending a graduate student's research into controversial areas of Israeli history.

His job had been threatened and he had been victimised, delegates in Eastbourne heard.

Bar-Ilan was accused of helping with degree programmes at a college in a settlement in the West Bank.

More dialogue

Sue Blackwell, an English lecturer from Birmingham University, said: "Most Israeli academics serve in the army's reserve forces.

"Most support the state's suppression of the Palestinians or at least don't speak out against it."

Delegates voted for more dialogue with Palestinian academics and unions.

However, they voted down a call by the union's executive to establish contact with a group called the Israeli Higher Education Union.

Ms Blackwell said that an internet search had found only six mentions of it, all linked with the AUT, and concluded that she did not think it existed.

The lecturers' decision has been criticised by representatives of the executives of Britain's universities, Universities UK.

A spokesperson said: "UUK condemns the resolution from AUT which is inimical to academic freedom, including the freedom of academics to collaborate with other academics."

Guidance

AUT delegates called for an end to all co-operation with Haifa and Bar-Ilan and to discourage UK investment in them.

Israel's policies in the occupied territories were described as "colonial and racist".

However, another motion on boycotting the Hebrew University of Jerusalem - accused of building student dormitories on land confiscated from Palestinian families - was referred to the union's executive for further investigation.

A spokesman for the AUT said the union's executive would issue guidance to members on the implications of the votes.

Some delegates were annoyed that debate on the issue was curtailed due to a lack of time.

'Dangerous process'

The universities could not immediately be contacted for a response to the AUT decisions.

But the Academic Friends of Israel in the UK said the boycott was "based on false information, imposes discriminatory boycott and vetting of political opinions, and is a backward step in the current climate of positive moves being made in the region".

"It is also the beginning of a dangerous process against the tenets of academic freedom and may rebound on the AUT itself," it said.

It also condemned the way that it had been made difficult for pro-Israel voices to be heard.

The group's chair, Ronnie Fraser, said: "Israelis and Palestinians will continue to co-operate even without the AUT, as they, who live the reality of the Middle East, know no other alternative is available for them.

"If the sponsors of this boycotting campaign succeeded in something, it is only to undermine further progress, collaboration and peace in the Middle East and to marginalise the standing of the AUT and its members in the academic community."

The Israeli Embassy in London said the resolutions were "as perverse in their content as in the way they were debated and adopted".

"The fact that no AUT member who wanted to argue against this decision was allowed to speak, and the case for the Israeli universities was not presented to delegates, speaks volumes about the relevance and fairness of this debate.

"Israeli universities are beacons of academic freedom where Jews and Arabs alike study together." 

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