[Boycott - Academic]
University and College Union passes BDS resolutions
BRICUP, June 2010 Newsletter (29) p6
31 May 2010
The University and College Union, representing approximately 120,000 teaching and related staff in colleges and universities in the UK, has passed new policies supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The debate took place on Sunday 30th May at the union’s Congress in Manchester.
Motion 30, proposed by the National Executive Committee, condemned “the failure of the international community to confront the Israeli government over the humanitarian disaster it is continuing to perpetrate in Gaza and the continued development of illegal settlements in the West Bank”, voted to work more closely with its Palestinian sister trade union (PFUUPE), and committed the union to working with bodies including Scottish TUC, Amnesty International and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) to support the TUC’s 2009 Congress decisions. The TUC had voted to end arms sales to Israel, seek an EU ban on settlement goods and support suspension of the the EU-Israel Association Agreement which provides preferential trade facilities to Israel.
More strongly worded motions were to come. Motion 31, from the University of Brighton Grand Parade branch, agreed to establish an annual international conference on BDS, and “to sever all relations with Histadrut, and to urge other trade unions and bodies to do likewise” as well as campaigning actively against the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
Tom Hickey, proposing the motion, pointed out that the Histadrut had supported the Israeli assault on civilians in Gaza in January 2009, and did not deserve the name of a trade union organisation. An amendment to this motion, seeking instead to “form a committee which represents all views within UCU to review relations with the Histadrut” and report back in a year’s time, was resoundingly defeated.
Motion 32 committed UCU to commencing the investigatory process associated with the imposition of a boycott of Ariel College. This is an institution in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, also known as the “College of Judea and Samaria”, which has long drawn the wrath of human rights campaigners because such settlements are illegal under international law.
Lastly, motion 33 from Oxford University branch criticising a South African trade union official who had been invited by UCU to a BDS conference last year, was defeated. Bongani Masuku, the International Secretary of COSATU, had been accused of making anti-semitic remarks at a rally at the University of the Witwatersrand in March 2009. Mike Cushman, a BRICUP member at the London School of Economics, told UCU Congress that Masuku had vigorously denied all such allegations and was fighting them in the courts and through the appeals process of the South African Human Rights Commission. Cushman said that the real racists were those who had tried to provoke Masuku with insults about “the monkeys in Cosatu” dying of AIDS.
BRICUP welcomes the UCU decisions and will continue to campaign within trade unions in the UK for boycott, sanctions and divestment against Israel until the occupation is ended and Palestinian people have justice.
UCU full text of all the motions showing pro-Palestine motions that passed and opposition motions and amendments that failed
31 May 2010
30 Practical support for Palestinian academic trade unionists - National executive committee
Congress condemns the failure of the international community to confront the Israeli government over the humanitarian disaster it is continuing to perpetrate in Gaza and the continued development of illegal settlements in the West Bank.
* welcomes the decisions of the 2009 TUC Congress relating to Palestine and Israel, and instructs the NEC to work with the TUC, STUC, and other affiliates, Amnesty International and Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), to put the recommendations into effect.
* welcomes the Education International (EI)/Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) report on academic freedom in Palestine and Israel, and the new impetus it provides for work on this area in EI.
* calls on the NEC to work with Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE), as well as EI, CAUT and other supportive EI affiliates, to build PFUUPE's organisational and negotiating capacity within Palestine, according to the needs PFUUPE identifies, and to support its membership of EI and enable it to participate fully in EI's work.
31 Palestine solidarity, BDS, and Histadrut - University of Brighton Grand Parade
* the successful international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) conference hosted by the UCU in line with Congress policy;
* the statement that emerged from that conference, and the call from the Palestinian Boycott National Committee for an isolation of Israel while it continues to act in breach of international law.
* to reaffirm its support for BDS, and to seek its implementation within the constraints of the existing law;
* to seek in conjunction with other trade unions, nationally and internationally, to establish an annual international conference on BDS, a trade union sponsored BDS website and a research centre on commercial, cultural and academic complicity with Israeli breaches of international law, with appropriate cost sharing;
* to sever all relations with Histadrut, and to urge other trade unions and bodies to do likewise;
* to campaign actively against the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and to coordinate that campaign with other trade unions and solidarity movements.
31A.1 - Barnet College (Barnet and Hendon)
Add, at end of 'Congress notes' section:
* The Histadrut is an active member of the International Trade Union movement.
* 200,000 Israeli Arabs are members of the Histadrut.
* The Histadrut and PGFTU have signed a series of joint cooperation agreements.
Replace bullet point 3 in Congress resolves with:
* 'to form a committee which represents all views within UCU to review relations with the Histadrut. After consulting with the TUC, its findings will be presented to Congress 2011.'
32 Ariel and West Bank Colonisation - University of Brighton Falmer
* the continuing colonisation of the West Bank - construction of illegal settlements, Israeli-only roads, diversion of Palestinian water, disaggregation of the territory, disruption of Palestinian life, destruction of olive groves and separation of Palestinian cultivators from their land, denial of educational and scholarly opportunities to Palestinians, and the continuing construction of the Wall;
* the contribution of Israel's academy in this process - scientific and social and historical research, siting of annexes on illegally confiscated land, and support for military occupation;
* the particular contribution of Ariel College in this process - recruiting Israelis as settlers for their education - and the recent decision of Israel to recognise Ariel as a 'university centre', on the way to its establishment as a university on occupied territory.
Congress resolves to commence the investigatory process associated with the imposition of a boycott of Ariel College.
33 UCU's invitation to Bongani Masuku of South Africa - University of Oxford
Congress notes that:
* UCU invited Bongani Masuku to a meeting in December 2009 to discuss Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions against Israel;
* the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has found that at a rally at the University of the Witwatersrand in March 2009 Masuku 'uttered numerous anti-semitic remarks which were seen to have incited violence and hatred amongst the students who were present.';
* the SAHRC has determined that these statements, and others made publicly by Masuku, amount to hate speech prohibited by the South African constitution;
* the SAHRC finding makes it clear that Masuku does not deny making the remarks attributed to him;
* these remarks were publicly available on the internet well before UCU's invitation to Masuku was issued.
Congress dissociates itself from Masuku's repugnant views.
L11 Emergency motion
Congress is appalled at the Israeli act of piracy in international waters on 31 May. It condemns the armed attack on the Gaza convoy and the murders of people seeking to bring aid to the people of Gaza suffering from the Israeli and Egyptian blockade.
Congress believes this constitutes a prima facie crime against humanity.
Congress believes that the senior Israeli government members and senior military and naval officers responsible for commissioning this action should be tried for this crime.
Congress demands that the UK government does not change the rules on universal jurisdiction to impede bringing the people responsible for these murders to justice.
TUC General Council statement on the Middle East (as mentioned in Motion 30)
17 September 2009
The TUC reiterates its belief that only when a sovereign, independent, democratic contiguous and viable Palestinian state is created, living side by side with a secure Israel will there be a chance for peace and stability in the Middle East. We remain committed to a two-state solution to the crisis in the Middle East and support for the Road Map. We recognize the enormous suffering of the Palestinian people, and we call upon the British Government to make appropriate representations to the international community to secure lasting peace through a negotiated settlement based on mutual respect and self-determination, on justice for the Palestinians and on security for Israel.
The TUC reiterates its condemnation of the Government of Israel's offensive in Gaza which resulted in 1,450 Palestinian deaths and 5,000 injured, as well as the massive, systematic destruction of infrastructure. We also reiterate our condemnation of the rocket attacks from inside Gaza against Israeli civilians. We welcome the findings of the UN investigation which highlighted possible war crimes on both sides of the conflict. The TUC remains concerned about the situation in Gaza and reiterates its opposition to the Israeli blockade, which is in contravention of international law and prevents vital supplies from reaching the people of Gaza. We welcome the contributions unions made earlier this year to the TUC Aid appeal for Gaza.
As a result of the Gaza offensive, the TUC calls on the British Government to:
(a) condemn the Israeli military aggression and the continuing blockade of Gaza;
(b) end arms sales to Israel which reached a value of £18.8 million in 2008, up from £7.7 million in 2007;
(c) seek EU agreement to impose a ban on the importing of goods produced in the illegal settlements; and
(d) support moves to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement which provides preferential trade facilities to Israel.
The TUC reiterates our pledge to work in solidarity with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and urges unions to support financially the TUC/PGFTU projects funded through TUC Aid as well as the joint Histadrut-PGFTU projects being developed in several sectors under the auspices of Global Union Federations. We welcome the resolution last year of the longstanding dispute over the remittance of membership subscriptions from the Histadrut to the PGFTU, which was brokered by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and support any stronger relations between the Histadrut and the PGFTU that they wish to develop.
The TUC condemns the Histadrut statement of 13 January 2009 which backed the attacks on Gaza and showed insufficient concern for the level of civilian casualties. At the same time, we recognize the recent Histadrut resolution on peace and co-operation, welcomed by the ITUC, which calls on the Israeli government 'to make concessions and take courageous and concrete steps towards attaining peace.' We will continue to press Histadrut to take a firmer line on these issues. The General Council will raise Congress' concerns with the Histadrut and report back to Congress on future relationships.
To increase the pressure for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories, and the removal of the separation wall and the illegal settlements, we will support a boycott (where trade union members should not put their own jobs at risk by refusing to deal with such products) of those goods and agricultural products that originate in illegal settlements - through developing an effective, targeted consumer-led boycott campaign working closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign - and campaign for disinvestment by companies associated with the occupation as well as engaged in building the separation wall. In undertaking these actions each affiliate will operate within its own aims and objectives and within the law.
We reiterate our encouragement to unions to affiliate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and to raise greater awareness of the issues.
Minutes and agendas (700 words) issued 17 Sep 2009
PACBI Applaudes UCU's Historic BDS Resolution
30 May 2010
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) expresses its profound appreciation for the courageous positions in support of Palestinian rights taken by the membership of the University and College Union (UCU) at its Congress today in Manchester.
The UCU has again firmly and decisively established its unwavering commitment to the Palestinian civil society's campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with its obligations under international law and recognizes the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Making history in the international trade union movement in the West, UCU’s Congress also voted with an overwhelming majority to "sever all relations with Histadrut, and to urge other trade unions and bodies to do likewise." The UCU has today confirmed its established position that it is legitimate to denounce Israel’s oppressive policies and to hold the state and its complicit institutions accountable for human rights abuses, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.
The Histadrut’s long standing partnership in the Israeli state’s colonization, ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination against the Palestinian people, particularly its statement on January 13th, 2009 supporting Israel’s war crimes in the occupied and besieged Gaza strip, has been condemned by a number of trade unions, including the British Communications Workers Union (CWU)  and others in Belgium, Spain, France, Norway and around the world. The Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) has recently decided to review its relations with the Histadrut with a view to severing them.
PACBI applauds the UCU’s reaffirmation of its determination to implement BDS measures within the existing constraints. On a practical level, we appreciate the decision "to seek in conjunction with other trade unions, nationally and internationally, to establish an annual international conference on BDS, a trade union sponsored BDS website and a research centre on commercial, cultural and academic complicity with Israeli breaches of international law." These resolutions will have a far reaching impact on enhancing the global BDS movement, particularly in providing the needed resources for furthering the academic boycott of Israel. The Congress’s decision to campaign actively against the EU-Israel Association Agreement in coordination with other trade unions and solidarity movements is another milestone that responds to a central appeal of the Palestinian civil society BDS campaign. We also appreciate the UCU’s decision to work with other bodies in supporting the membership of the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) in Education International.
Through these decisions, the UCU joins other UK and international unions and public bodies in endorsing and implementing BDS. Most recently, the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) reaffirmed in its annual meetings its BDS policy. Days earlier, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) had also reaffirmed its own overwhelming support for BDS. The British TUC has also launched with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) an important drive aimed at implementing a wide boycott of Israeli colonies’ products and services, as a first step towards a more comprehensive application of BDS, as called for in the TUC’s last congress.
Creative and effective realization of BDS policies has become a theme among trade unions and TU federations from South Africa’s COSATU to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). In 2009, Hampshire College in the US became the first in the West to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. Many other universities in North America are witnessing similar divestment campaigns at various stages of development. Norway and Sweden have recently divested their respective pension funds of all stock in Elbit Systems, a leading Israeli military manufacturer implicated in violations of international law. Besides the UK, campaigns supporting PACBI’s Call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel have sprung up in the US, Spain, France, Italy, India, Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, among other countries. Leading cultural figures of the calibre of Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron and Carlos Santana have heeded the call to cancel performances in Israel in protest over its persistent suppression of Palestinian rights. Some of the largest supermarket chains in Italy have decided to stop carrying Israeli colonies’ products.
PACBI especially welcomes the UCU Congress resolution to "commence the investigatory process associated with the imposition of a boycott of Ariel College," a college-colony built on occupied Palestinian territory, as a first step in implementing the academic boycott against the Israeli academy. It is worth noting that the Spanish Government had excluded an Israeli academic team from Ariel College from a sustainable architecture competition last year for the same reasons. All Israeli universities are deeply linked to the military-security establishment, playing indispensable -- direct and indirect -- roles in perpetuating Israel's decades-old violations of international law and fundamental Palestinian rights. No Israeli university or academic union has ever taken a public position against the occupation, let alone against Israel's system of apartheid or the denial of Palestinian refugee rights. Israeli universities are profoundly complicit in developing weapons systems and military doctrines deployed in Israel's recent war crimes in Gaza ; justifying the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land and gradual ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians ; providing moral justification for extra-judicial killings and indiscriminate attacks against civilians ; systematically discriminating against "non-Jewish" students in admissions, dormitory room eligibility, financial aid, etc.; and many other implicit and explicit violations of human rights and international law. 
Finally, we salute the UCU membership for its effective and consistent solidarity in pushing BDS forward and for its politically and morally sound contribution to the struggle to end oppression and uphold universal human rights for all.
 See, for example, the following incriminating evidence against Tel Aviv University's partnership with the Israeli army and weapons industries:
 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1062127.html and Reuven Pedatzur, The Israeli Army House Philosopher, Haaretz, 24 February 2004.
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