Academic boycott campaign is finally defeated – morally, politically, legally

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[Hat tip and congratulations to Engage]

The campaign for an academic boycott of Israel has ended today in an absolute and final political, legal and moral defeat.

The University and College Union’s (UCU) own lawyers advised it that a policy to exclude academics who work in Israel from the global academic community – and to exclude nobody else on the planet – would have been a violation of equal opportunities legislation in Britain.

Given this legal advice, the leadership of the UCU had no choice but decisively to end the union’s flirtation with a boycott of Israeli academia. To persist in a ‘discussion’ of an illegal and discriminatory policy would have opened the union up to potentially fatal lawsuits on the grounds of unfair discrimination. Union members could have been held personally liable if they had ignored clear legal advice. The Opinion was given to UCU by a widely respected barrister.

UCU’s Strategy and Finance Committee voted unanimously today to end all consideration of the boycott proposal. The Opinion said:

“It would be beyond the Union’s powers and unlawful for the Union, directly or indirectly to call for or to implement a boycott by the Union and its members of any kind of Israeli universities and other academic institutions; and that the use of Union funds directly or indirectly to further such a boycott would also be unlawful.”

The Opinion also said:

“…to ensure that the Union acts lawfully meetings should not be used to ascertain the level of support for such a boycott.”

[continue reading]

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