FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 30, 2010
Contact: Ziyaad Lunat
British Academic Union Severs Ties with Israel’s Histadrut and Boycotts Ariel College
MANCHESTER (UK) – Delegates at the University and College Union (UCU) Congress voted this afternoon to sever ties with Histadrut, Israel’s organization of trade unions. The UCU became the first trade union in the West to "sever all relations with Histadrut, and to urge other trade unions and bodies to do likewise."
This historic decision is a response to a Palestinian call of 2005 to isolate Israel internationally until it abides by its obligations under international law. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, modeled after the South Africa anti-apartheid movement, has grown in support since Israel’s Gaza offensive of 2008/09.
A number of trade unions, including the British Communications Workers Union (CWU) and others in Belgium, Spain, France, and Norway have been critical of Histradut’s unqualified support of Israel’s policies against Palestinians, particularly its support for the Gaza offensive. The Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) has recently decided to review its relations with the Histadrut with a view to severing them. The UCU has become the first to take the step.
Delegates also agreed to take measures leading to a boycott of Ariel College, an Israeli academic institution located in an illegal colony of the same name in the occupied West Bank. The resolution called for commencing "the investigatory process associated with the imposition of a boycott of Ariel College." The UCU approved a resolution in 2008 to "consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions". The Association of University Teachers (AUT), now merged into UCU, had voted in 2005 to boycott two Israeli universities. After intensive pressure from Israel support groups, AUT was forced to rescind its boycott. Debate has been raging in the union for years about the merits of an academic boycott of Israel.
In a statement the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) said, “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.”
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Note to Editors:
1. Full PACBI statement: http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1247
2. University College Union (UCU) is the largest trade union and professional association for academics, lecturers, trainers, researchers and academic-related staff working in further and higher education throughout the UK.
3. Recent BDS movement successes: musician Elvis Costello cancelled a scheduled performance in Israel earlier this month following an appeal by fans. Germany’s Deutsche Bank announced this week divestment from Israeli military company Elbit Systems.