UCU boycott is racist

July 24, 2008

I regret that Times Higher Education was not able to publish in full my remarks about the University and College Union ("Derecognise UCU over Israel motion, says Deech", 10 July). In calling for derecognition of the union, I pointed out that lawyers have advised that the UCU's attempted boycott of Israeli academics is racist under current legislation.

The action of the union cannot be labelled mere legitimate criticism of the policies of a foreign government because: it holds all Israeli academics responsible (imagine if all British lecturers were held personally responsible for UK policy in Iraq); and the union singles out Israel for punitive action - not China, not Sudan, not Zimbabwe, not Burma, not Pakistan nor any of the many countries that occupy, that deny human rights to their population, imprison university staff and students or deny women education. The UCU represents only minority opinion in this action but risks damaging the reputation of British universities worldwide.

Baroness Deech, House of Lords.

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