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The Academic Friends of Israel -Update

The Academic Friends of Israel

P.O. Box 360                  Email: mail @ academics-for-israel.org
Harrow                   Website: www.academics-for-israel.org
HA3 9WY


                                                                                      16th May 2005
Dear Colleagues,

This update covers the latest developments in the press relating to the AUT Israel Boycott, NATFHE and SOAS.

1. The pro-boycotters have started a press offensive with articles being published in the Times Higher Educational supplement and the Independent:


Why we support the Israeli university boycott
By David Seddon & Martha Mundy

appeared in the Independent

Sanctions can work... by Stephen and Hilary Rose
appeared in the Times Higher Education Supplement [THES]
 

2. NATFHE
The other academic Trade Union in Britain NATFHE is to have its conference at the end of the month; the THES has published two articles about my motion tackling the rise in anti Semitism in the UK.
"Natfhe tackles rise of racism" THES 130505


White activist qualifies as "Black" THES 130505

These articles are below as there are no web links to them. NATFHE which is more pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel that the AUT is due to merge with the AUT next year.  Melanie Phillips has written a critique of NATFHE and its General Secretary which can be found at:
http://www.melaniephillips.com/diary/archives/001192.html

Also from this week's THES:

 The AUT's boycott of Israeli academics is supported by just 16 per cent of UK students accord­ing to an exclusive Opinion Panel poll for The Times Higher.

The poll found that 41 per cent of students feel that British acade­mic institutions should not "boy­cott their Israeli counterparts". While 16 per cent said they should and 42 per cent "don't know".

 

3. SOAS


The Board of Deputies of British Jews has issued a dossier to SOAS Director Colin Bundy, using evidence and personal statements collected from many SOAS students, detailing suspected breaches of the School's own rules.

UK student warned to stop protesting anti-Semitism

Jerusalem Post

 

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1115867640272&p=1111893688901

 

"Soas faces action over alleged anti-Semitism" The Guardian

http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/news/story/0,,1481646,00.html

Finally I came across a website  called Boycott Israel which aims to help people who want to boycott produce from Israel and illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, by providing sources of information about companies, products etc. It also wants to act as an educational resource...

 

Regards

 Ronnie Fraser

The Times Higher Education Supplement: "Natfhe tackles rise of racism"

 Phil Baty

Published: 13 May 2005

 Lecturers' union Natfhe is expected to condemn the rise of anti-Semitism across UK university campuses at its annual conference later this month, writes Phil Baty.

The move comes as the Association of University Teachers feels the fallout of its decision to boycott links with academics from two Israeli universities.

A motion backed by Natfhe's national executive to be put to the Eastbourne conference at the end of May warns that anti-Semitic incidents are increasing and that prejudice against Jews is "becoming acceptable in the UK".

The Natfhe motion calls for new guidelines and training programmes to counter prejudice. It will be debated days after the AUT holds a one-off council meeting on May 26 to reconsider its decision to boycott Haifa and Bar-Illan universities - a move that some critics have condemned as anti-Semitic. Natfhe and the AUT are due to merge next year.

While the AUT has been criticised for its boycott plans, three years ago Natfhe passed a broader motion agreeing that UK education institutions "be urged immediately to review - with a view to severing - any academic links they may have with Israel".

The union later said it had "moved on" from the motion, and encourages links with institutions that "help build a positive relationship between Israel and Palestine".

According to the Community Security Trust, there were 532 anti-Semitic incidents recorded in 2004 - the highest total since records began in 1984 and 42 per cent more than in 2003. Incidents include assault, damage to property and abusive behaviour.

NATFHE's motion says that "universities and colleges must ensure that staff and students work in an atmosphere free from discrimination and intimidation".

Ronnie Fraser, founder of the Academic Friends of Israel, first suggested the Natfhe motion condemning anti-Semitism. He said that prejudice usually sprang from ignorance, for example where universities failed to acknowledge that religious commitments may prevent Jewish Orthodox students attending exams on Saturday.

 It emerged this week that the Board of Deputies of British Jews has met education officials to discuss concerns about incidents at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Five Jewish students at Soas have made formal complaints about six incidents at the school, including the screening of a pro-Palestinian documentary, Jerusalem, the Promise of Heaven, in the Soas common room in February. The board says the film refers to Jewish prayer as "satanic".


Colin Bundy, director of Soas, said: "The communication from the Board of Deputies is receiving careful and detailed attention and it would be inappropriate for me to discuss a response before they have received it."

 
 White activist qualifies as "Black"

The Times Higher Educational Supplement

Phil Baty

May 13th 2005

A white Jewish lecturer has revealed how he had to declare himself "black" to join an equal opportunities committee of lectur­ers' union Natfhe.

Barnet College lecturer Ronnie Fraser got himself elected to the "black members" section of the union's London Region equality committee to raise concerns about the representation of Jewish interests by the union.

He said the group was technically open only to "women, gay, lesbian, disabled or black" members of the union, but he established that the definition of "black" members was wide enough to include Jews as an ethnic minority that suffers racism.         

"I believe head office had to ask its lawyers if I could be accepted as a black member, and they said the union had to accept me," Mr. Fraser told The Times Higher. "So I'm black."

 Mr. Fraser has been lobbying Natfhe over its representation of Orthodox Jewish members since 2002 when the union called for a review of links with Israeli uni­versities, leading to their possible severance, in protest at Israel's policy on Palestinians.

He has successfully fought against holding regional activists' meetings on the Jewish Sabbath and has helped to get measures to counter anti-Semitism in the Union's rulebook.

 Mr. Fraser has secured national executive backing for a landmark motion condemning anti-Semitism. It will be debated at NATFHE's annual conference in Eastbourne later this month 
 

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