Israel boycott dispute back on AUT agenda

An academic boycott of Israeli universities over their Government's treatment of Palestinians was thrust firmly back on to the agenda of the Association of University Teachers this week, when a leading advocate of sanctions took her place on the union's special "investigative commission"

on the issue, writes Phil Baty.

The 50,000-member AUT caused an international outcry and polarised scholars last year when its annual conference agreed a policy to boycott Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities in Israel.

But after a grassroots backlash the policy was overturned at a special conference and the union resolved to set up an investigative commission to consider the issue.

Sue Blackwell, a leading pro-boycott campaigner who proposed the original boycott motion, confirmed this week that she would be taking her seat on the commission. She is one of four ordinary AUT members elected to the body.

Ms Blackwell, a lecturer at Birmingham University, said: "Our Palestinian colleagues are calling even more loudly for a campaign of boycotts, sanctions and disinvestment against the apartheid regime as a non-violent way of putting pressure on Israel to end the illegal occupation (of Palestinian territory).

Jon Pike, boycott opponent and also on the commission, said a boycott was an "abrogation of academic freedom and a descent into the politics of demonisation".

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

  • Elly Walton illustration (16 July 2015)

Whether in jest or not, sexist language shows an insensitivity to gender issues at odds with academic values, argues Dorothy Bishop

  • Two men looking surprised in an office

Report says projects fail when scholars obsessed with “shiny things” ignore business needs

  • Tony Little, Eton College headmaster, 2007

Tony Little points to ‘increasing gap’ between teaching standards at sixth form and university

  • AC Grayling, writer and academic

A. C. Grayling’s ‘Oxbridge-style’ private college strikes agreement with post-92 institution