Ariel College prof: UK union boycott would be illegal

Professor accuses the union of discrimination.

June 6, 2010 05:23
1 minute read.
Students at Ariel University Center

Ariel College 311. (photo credit: Ariel University Center Website)

LONDON – A British faculty member of an Israeli college that could see a boycott imposed by the UK’s largest academic trade union has vowed to take legal action.

Last week, the University College Union (UCU) voted at its annual conference in Manchester to commence an “investigatory process” associated with the imposition of a boycott of Ariel University Center (Ariel College). The union alleges that the college plays a “significant role in the continuing colonisation” of the West Bank.

London-based Prof. Geoffrey Alderman – professor of politics and contemporary history at the University of Buckingham guest professor in the faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at the college in Samaria and a UCU member – said that he is angry and dismayed at the decision and vowed that if the union goes ahead with a boycott, he will invoke anti-discrimination and equality legislation to accuse the union of discrimination.

“Clearly this would depend on what the UCU actually decided to do,” Alderman told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.

“If for example the union instructed, advised or encouraged its members not to invite to their campuses any Ariel College faculty member, or to boycott lectures given by Ariel faculty; or if it advised, instructed or encouraged its members who are on the boards of learned journals or learned societies not to consider any publication proposal from any Ariel faculty – or, indeed, to expel those who are Ariel faculty members – then I would seek an appropriate remedy under UK anti-discrimination and equality legislation.

Ronnie Fraser, the director of Academic Friends of Israel, said a boycott would anyway be unlawful.

“How they propose to implement a boycott and remain within the law is not clear, as the union legal advice they received two years ago clearly stated that any boycott of Israeli academics was discriminatory,” Fraser said.

“I shall also expect the help of the union in bringing action since I’m a paid-up member,” Alderman added.

A UCU spokesman told the Post on Friday that the union is aware of Alderman’s position, but would not comment. The union also said it would not comment on what the “investigatory process” entailed.

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