British Lecturers Union May Boycott Israeli Academics
Israeli academics who refuse to condemn their government’s actions in the Palestinian territories may face a boycott by the Association of University Teachers, Britain’s largest lecturers union, according to the British Guardian newspaper.
The union is expected to debate the proposed boycott at its next meeting, scheduled for April 20. According to the text of the proposal, the boycott excludes “conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state’s colonial and racist policies.”
The association voted down a similar measure two years ago, but according to Birmingham University lecturer Sue Blackwell, who co-wrote the current proposal, the boycott has gained support with the union. “We are now better organized,” she said. “One of the reasons we didn’t win last time was that there was no clear public call from Palestinians for the boycott. Now we have that, in writing.”
The Guardian report states that many British academics already maintain an unofficial boycott against Israeli academic institutions, refusing offers to work on major Israeli research projects as a protest to Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories.
But according to Hebrew University Professor Nachman Ben-Yehuda, a boycott against Israeli academics would merely serve as another barrier to peace in the region. “To say we won’t talk any more goes against something very, very basic. We solve problems through dialogue,” he said.