Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A Noble Gesture against the British Academic Boycott of Israel

The eminent British cardovascular physiologist Emeritus Professor Denis Noble CBE, FRS, has resigned from the University and College Union in protest at its discriminatory attitude and double standards towards Israel, an attitude which he now believes is motivated by antisemitism. His letter to the union’s general secretary, Sally Hunt, is printed in the Oxford Magazine, and I reproduce it here from the website of the anti-academic boycott organisation Engage, run by London academic David Hirsh http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/open-letter-of-resignation

where more details may be found.
'I joined the AUT nearly 50 years ago as a young assistant lecturer at University College London. When I retired from my Oxford professorship in 2004 I chose to retain my membership – although I no longer stood to gain from the union’s negotiating any improvements in salary or conditions of service – because I believe in trade unions and thought that by remaining a member I would, in some small measure, help colleagues. But the behaviour of UCU over the past several years has made it impossible for me to continue, and I now resign my membership.
In a letter I wrote to you over a year ago, which has remained unanswered and unacknowledged, I said that UCU’s repeated conference decisions to discriminate against certain colleagues (Israelis) on the grounds of their nationality were unacceptable. Such discrimination is contrary to the universally recognised norms of academic practice, as set out (for example) in the Statutes of the International Council of Science (ICSU). I also sent a letter as President of IUPS, which adheres to ICSU. Nobody in the world of learning can take seriously a professional organisation that purports to represent academic staff but which entertains proposals to discriminate whether it be on grounds of sex, race, national origin or other characteristics that are irrelevant to academic excellence. Nonetheless our union has voted repeatedly in favour of such discrimination, and those who have been discriminated against are always Israelis. The wording of the discriminatory resolutions has sometimes been contorted for legal reasons, but the intention has been transparent: to hold Israeli colleagues responsible for, and punish them for, the actions of their government via a type of reasoning (guilt by association) that is never applied to the academics of any other country. Of course, I accept that the Israeli government is guilty of human-rights violations, and I accept that the union is entitled to criticise it. But many other governments in the world are also guilty of human-rights violations, often far more egregious than those committed by Israel, and yet Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) have never been endorsed by the Annual Congress of UCU against any other country.
It is instructive to compare the motion about China adopted by Congress at its 2010 meeting with one of those about Israel. (I choose these examples because both countries have been in occupation of the territories of a different ethnic group for many years and both have encouraged their citizens to settle in the territories thus occupied). The motion on China, while asserting that UCU “will continue to condemn abuses of human rights of trade unionists and others”, recognised “the need to encourage collegial dialogue” with Chinese institutions. By contrast, a motion on Israel approved in the same session of Congress reaffirmed its support for BDS, sought to establish an annual international conference on BDS and a BDS website, and severed all relations with the Histadrut, the Israeli counterpart to the TUC. There are many countries in the world whose governments are guilty of atrocities: there is no other country in the world whose national trade union organisation is boycotted by UCU.
I find it impossible not to ask myself why UCU exhibits this obsession with Israel. The obvious explanation – that the union is institutionally anti-semitic – is so unpleasant that I have till recently been unwilling to accept it, but I changed my mind after witnessing the fate at the 2010 Congress of the motion of my local branch (University of Oxford) about Bongani Masuku. As you know, Masuku was invited to a meeting on BDS hosted by the union in London last December. Some months earlier, he had made a speech during a rally at the University of the Witwatersrand. This speech has been described by the South African Human Rights Commission (the body set up by the Constitution to promote inter-racial harmony after the end of apartheid) as including “numerous anti-semitic remarks which were seen to have incited violence and hatred”. The Oxford motion debated at Congress did not allege that the union invited Masuku despite knowing his views; instead it merely invited Congress to dissociate itself from Masuku’s views. This was the minimum that UCU could be expected to do to reassure members like me that we still belong. That this motion was rejected by a large majority makes it clear to me that the union either regards anti-semitic views as acceptable or, at least, has no objection to their being expressed in public by the national official of a fraternal trade union organisation. I do not wish to remain a member of such a union.'
For more on Bongani Masuko, International Relations Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), see http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/.../bongani-masuku-an-invited-guest-of-ucu/
and
http://www.engageonline.wordpress.com/.../hate-speech-ruling-against-bongani-masuku/

3 comments:

  1. The president of the UCU is Clare Solomon, a 36 year old eternal student and yes, she is a Jew!! Shame on her and her repulsive antics!

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  2. Clare Solomon counts Islamist and crook mayor of Tower Hamlets among her friends;

    http://www.facebook.com/solomonsmindfield

    ReplyDelete
  3. You know more than I do, Juniper!

    ReplyDelete