Thursday, May 26, 2005


Victory at AUT conference

The boycott of Israeli universities was defeated overwhelmingly (about 80:20 on a show of hands) at the AUT special conference today, 26 May.

The conference did not get to the longer motions stating opposition to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and support for a Palestinian state as well as rejection of the boycott.

At a press conference/ fringe meeting afterwards, however, the main figures of the anti-boycott campaign, David Hirsh, Jon Pike, Robert Fine, and John Strawson all spoke on that theme. Strawson said that the existing Palestinian solidarity movement in Britain is crippled by the fact that it hates Israel much more than it loves Palestine, and called for the creation of a new movement of solidarity for the Palestinians based on positive, democratic ideas rather than hatred of Israel.

The question now is what can be done to gather and consolidate some of the people stirred up by all this, and build the movement that John Strawson called for.

There has been talk of an emergency pro-boycott motion coming forward at NATFHE conference this coming weekend. After the decisive vote at AUT conference, that seems unlikely, but NATFHE members need to be vigilant.

And the whole issue may have to be re-debated after the upcoming merger of AUT and NATFHE.

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