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CRIT-GEOG-FORUM  April 2005

CRIT-GEOG-FORUM April 2005

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Subject:

Re: AUT boycott

From:

David Storey <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

David Storey <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 27 Apr 2005 15:55:46 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (146 lines)

Further to Dave Featherstone's comments on the AUT boycott of Israeli
academic institutions, there are certainly questions pertaining to such
boycotts. Amongst other things, these relate to equity, effectiveness,
interpretation,implementation,flexibility. 

Many opposed to such boycotts cite the importance of upholding academic
freedom. While many of us might generally wish to uphold this right, it may
occasionally conflict with the rights of others (the rights of Palestinian
academics for example?). This argument also seems to presuppose a separation
of academia from the messy world of politics - a position which hardly seems
tenable.

The suggestion that an academic boycott of Israeli institutions carries a
whiff of anti-semitism seems to be both illogical and dangerous. It seems to
suggest that criticism of the Israeli state is tantamount to racism. While
anti-semitism is to be deplored, does this mean that Israel cannot be
criticised or that critics should refrain from taking action. Does it mean
that British anti-war protestors are anti-British? or that US critics of
Bush's foreign policy are anti-American?

Dave

Dr. David Storey
Department of Applied Sciences, Geography and Archaeology
University College Worcester
Henwick Grove
Worcester WR2 6AJ

Tel: 01905 855189
Fax: 01905 855132 


-----Original Message-----
From: A forum for critical and radical geographers
On Behalf Of Dave Featherstone
Sent: 27 April 2005 14:03
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: What to do against the AUT boycott


Hi,

I would like to raise concerns about what is written below...

as an AUT member I am obviously concerned about the procedures at the 
conference outlined below...I also think an academic boycott is a fairly 
clumsy way of taking action and there are some flaws...

However, I do think that there is a very strong case for symbolic action 
against Israeli government and to accuse those supporting the boycott as 
anti-semitic is to demean those involved. I also think it needs to be made 
clear that this isn't just a case of being 'fed up with Sharon' which 
trivialises the scale of injustice that the Israeli state is involved eg 
through repeated flouting of UN conventions etc...

So despite reservations about AUT procedure and the technicalities of the 
boycott I think the broader picture for the need for symbolic action 
against Israel and the political integrity of those lobbying against 
Israeli government actions need to be taken seriously,

Dave


--On 26 April 2005 16:15 +0100 Dr Camila Bassi <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> This is a forwarded message from David Hirsh (Goldsmiths College,
> University of London) which may interest some readers:
>
> Many are angry that AUT has now taken the first steps on the road to
> boycotting Israeli thinkers, teachers, artists and musicians on the
> premise that are responsible for the actions of the Israeli government.
>
> It is crucial that we do not to leave AUT in anger and disgust. If we
> seize the moment, we can build a campaign that can reverse the boycott
> policy in AUT. People must not resign, they must fight. And the people
> who have been fighting for a long time, and feel isolated and angry, will
> not be isolated now. A whole new layer of people are ready to join them
> in the fight against the boycott.
>
> On this issue, debate can change minds. The argument that 'Israel is
> apartheid and so we must boycott it' is seductive to people who don't know
> much about the issues and who want to 'do something'. But the commitment
> of the people who have been thus seduced is weak. So debate, education and
> organisation have a strong chance of success.
>
> Many AUT members will be worried about union democracy; others about
> academic freedom; many will be worried by the whiff of antisemitism; many
> members are fed up with Sharon but don't know how to oppose him and the
> boycotters at the same time. This is the moment for a campaign. And I
> think we can win. Read the following carefully (from John Pike, Open
> University).
>
> The AUT council at Eastbourne voted to boycott two Israeli Universities
> without a proper debate: no speakers were taken against the resolutions
> for a boycott moved by Birmingham or against the resolution calling for
> the circulation of the call for a boycott, proposed by the OU. Lack of
> time prevented any debate on this matter, which divided the Council down
> the middle. This should offend all AUT members, regardless of their
> position on the substantive issue. For this reason we want there to be a
> special council of the AUT properly to discuss this issue.
>
> Under the rules of the AUT there is provision for a special meeting of
> Council. Rule 10.3.1 (in full) states that 'The president may summon a
> special meeting of council. A special meeting of Council must be convened
> within 35 days if a request specifying the business to be transacted is
> received from 25 council members.
>
> All members of the AUT should contact their representative members of
> council. You can generally find out who they are from the local branch
> page of the AUT website at http://www.aut.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=519.
>
> Please cut and paste the first statement below and ask council members to
> sign it. Please let me know of any successes at [log in to unmask] and
> send me signatures as they come in. I'll keep count and post updates to
> the Engage website.
>
> To the President of the Association of University Teachers
>
> As members of the Council of the Association of University Teachers, we
> request a special meeting of the Council of the AUT under rule 10.3.1 in
> order to have a full debate on proposals to boycott Israeli Universities.
>
> We also ask ordinary members of the AUT to add their names ? email is fine
> for this one - to the following statement which will be circulated to all
> members of the National executive committee, all of who are members of
> Council.
>
> To members of the National Executive of the AUT
>
> As members of the AUT concerned by the absence of a debate on the
> resolutions to boycott Israeli Universities, we ask that you support the
> request for a Special Council meeting to have a full debate on these
> proposals
>
> Jon Pike (Open) AUT membership number 58097
>
>
> Best Wishes
>
> David Hirsh
>
> Sociology Department
> Goldsmiths College
> London SE14 6NW
> [log in to unmask]
> +4420 7919 7730

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