End of UK union's boycott is academic

MK Rabbi Melchior: Union's rejection of motion not a cause for celebration.

boycott israel 88 (photo credit: )
boycott israel 88
(photo credit: )
The boycott of Israeli academics approved last month by members the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE), Britain's largest academic trade union, expired on Sunday. The boycott's end followed the union's merger with the Association of University Teachers (AUT), Britain's second academic trade union. The new union is called the University and College Union. NATFHE members voted on May 29 to boycott Israeli lecturers and academic institutions that did not publicly declared their opposition to Israeli policy in the territories. The following day, the AUT announced that it did not endorse the NATFHE resolution and advised its members not to implement it. In an official statement on its Web site, the AUT warned that "This tactic is fraught with difficulties and dangers and should not be followed by AUT members." Last year the AUT itself voted to boycott Bar-Ilan University and the University of Haifa. The vote was later reversed following objections by leading scholars and academic organizations. Education Minister Yuli Tamir said Sunday that she commended the suppression of the NATFHE boycott decision and said she believed it was necessary to reinforce Israel's relationship with the UK in order to ensure that such a boycott attempt is not repeated. Prof. Yossi Yeshurun, Bar-Ilan University rector and chair of the university's International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom, emphasized the IAB's and Bar-Ilan University's "deep appreciation and gratitude to all those, in Israel and around the world," who worked to reverse the NATFHE boycott. "Through their efforts, they spotlighted the fundamental distortion of the initial NATFHE decision and successfully helped to mobilize public opinion against the boycott both within the NATFHE and elsewhere," Yeshurun said. Knesset Education Committee chairman Michael Melchior warned that "Those celebrating the suppression of the British boycott are deceived and deceiving," adding that "The celebrations over the removal of the British academic boycott of Israel are early and groundless." Melchior pointed out that the boycott was overturned on a technicality, the merger of the two unions, and argued that it was not indicative of a change in attitudes towards Israel.