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

  • Woman taking homeopathic medicine

Alternative treatments in healthcare plan is latest in a series of homeopathy-related controversies

Phil Baty explains why hundreds of research papers will not be considered when compiling the next Times Higher Education rankings

  • Man lying beneath rugby pile-up

Six academics share their experiences before delivering a verdict on the system

  • Zygmunt Bauman with hand over mouth

Eminent sociologist has recycled 90,000 words of material across a dozen books, claims paper

  • Foot about to step on banana peel

Kevin Haggerty and Aaron Doyle offer tips on making postgraduate study even tougher (which students could also use to avoid pitfalls if they prefer)