Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Motion Passed by Warwick AUT today
The AUT should
a. reject all existing proposals to boycott Israeli universities;
b. give solidarity to Palestinian academics in the occupied territories and support their academic freedom;
c. not recognise the College of Judea and Samaria in the Occupied Territories as a legitimate university.
Robert Fine, Sociology Istvan Pogany, Law
Here are some excerpts from statement supporting this motion by Robert Fine
I too would like to see the top brass of Israeli universities coming out more strongly against the occupation, but we don't call for a boycott of British Universities for not denouncing the war in Iraq or not denouncing internment in Northern Ireland. In any event, I do not think that an academic boycott of Israeli universities is correct in principle.
Boycotts of universities always undermine academic freedom. The university sector in Israel is currently under attack from the right wing for being too liberal, particularly on the Palestine question. Many academics need our support. There is much original work being undertaken on history and politics, which undermines many of the reactionary ideas which are used to justify the occupation, settlements and the wall.
Academics have little power in the political arena. What we can do is, through teaching, research, publication and broadcasting, attempt to mobilise ideas for freedom. Working with people positively seems far more likely to help create conditions that will end the occupation than the negative boycott.
The boycott is a call to do nothing about the occupation at all. It plays directly into the hands of the right wing in Israel as well as a growing body of antisemitism in Europe.
I was an activist in the Anti-Apartheid Movement. The analogy between South Africa and Israel is superficial, but in any case the same mistake was made in South Africa as is now being recommended in Israel. In Israel higher education is quite integrated. In South Africa universities were not very integrated, but like Israeli universities exercised a degree of independence and academic freedom.