Wednesday, May 31, 2006

AUT SAYS NO TO NATFHE BOYCOTT

Via Engage, a statement from the AUT on the NATFHE boycott:
At its recent annual conference NATFHE passed a motion inviting their members to consider boycotting Israeli academics under certain circumstances.

AUT does not endorse this policy and is strongly advising its members not to implement it. In May 2005 AUT council overwhelmingly rejected an earlier decision to boycott two Israeli universities and reasserted its belief that freedom of expression, open debate and unhampered dialogue are prerequisites of academic freedom.

In addition, the meeting went on to set up a commission to investigate the whole issue of international boycotts. The report of the commission was agreed at May 2006 AUT council. It sets out a very careful, staged approach to boycotts which ensures that they are applied only in exceptional circumstances, are fully justified by the facts, and can be shown to be an effective way of furthering academic freedom and human rights.

The commission considered only the collective boycotting of institutions by the union's membership. It did not consider the boycotting of individual academics by individual union members. This tactic is fraught with difficulties and dangers and should not be followed by AUT members.

On 1 June AUT and NATFHE join to form the University and College Union (UCU). The NATFHE motion is not binding on the UCU. The AUT will argue for the UCU to adopt the report of its commission. It will not support or cooperate in any way with any attempts to implement the NATFHE motion in advance of the first UCU annual national congress in June 2007.
Sensible heads have prevailed at the AUT then.

Best comment on the boycott? Shuggy's:
Collective guilt is assumed, the boycott is collective punishment. The only way you can escape this is if you pass an ideology test - and pass it publicly.

Sort of Cultural Revolution-lite for the decaffeinated generation, which reminds me: do you think they'll be demanding Chinese academics expiate the collective guilt of their government's crimes through the public confessional?

Neither do I.

There are two walls under construction: one across occupied lands, another across unoccupied minds.
Nicely put.

Looks like this is something that isn't going to go away anytime soon. The same old arguments will be trotted out for and against the boycott. For those that want to relive them, halfway down this post is a round-up of a debate between Norman Geras, Eve Garrard and Richard Kuper that puts to bed at least one of the more popular pro-boycott arguments.

Academics should know better. In the words of Norm:
What a disgrace to the profession the NATFHE decision is.
Quite. But hopefully a disgrace that lasts but a few days.

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