Boycott the unfair AUT boycott 3

April 29, 2005

There are very many differences between the academic boycotts of the South African universities under apartheid and the recent AUT boycotts of Israeli universities. Here is just one difference: there was no body of educated opinion in the UK, or in the AUT in particular, that supported apartheid.

But the case of Israel, and Israeli universities, is essentially contested, with significant numbers of educated people in the AUT taking opposing views. Adopting a position on a divisive political issue is irrelevant to the principal purposes for which the AUT was set up.

The proper course of action should have been to adopt no official union position at all, leaving individuals to pursue their political aims in other venues.

I have been an AUT member for some 35 years. For the first time, my union has certainly alienated me; I feel uncomfortable as a member. I see the boycotts as discriminatory, picking relatively minor issues as a thinly veiled guise under which to pursue a strictly political vendetta against a single country.

Even if the allegations were true, one could find those and very much worse in universities in every country, but about them, not a union peep.

David-Hillel Ruben
Birkbeck, University of London

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