union to debate boycott of Israel
Will Woodward, education editor
May 5, 2003
A university lecturers' union will debate a call for an academic
boycott of Israel at its annual conference in Scarborough this week.
The executive of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) is
opposing a motion to be put before delegates on Friday by Sue Blackwell,
a pro- Palestine campaigner from Birmingham University.
The motion says: "In view of Israel's repeated breaches of
UN resolutions and of the Geneva conventions, council urges all
UK institutions of higher education, all AUT local associations
and all AUT members to review immediately, with a view to severing,
any academic links they may have with official Israeli institutions,
The debate will revive the controversy over the decision last year
by Mona Baker, a professor at the University of Manchester Institute
of Science and Technology (Umist), to drop two eminent scholars
from the boards of her privately-run translation journals because
they worked at Israeli universities.
Umist criticised her move and launched an inquiry, after which
it said it had no grounds for any action against her.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the AUT, told the Sunday Telegraph:
"The AUT is a broad church and contains a wide spectrum of
views on numerous matters. This subject will be fully debated and
I am sure those who feel strongly about the issue will put their
The AUT conference, which begins on Wednesday, will also debate
calls for an eventual merger with Natfhe, the other lecturers' union,
which has 47,000 members in colleges and 20,000 in mainly newer
universities. The AUT has 46,000 members, mainly in older universities.