Britain Academic Union Votes For Israel Boycott

Britain Academic Union Votes For Israel Boycott

For the third time since 2007, Britain’s largest academic union has voted to adopt an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

The resolution was passed Sunday at UCU’s annual conference in Harrogate, Yorkshire.

In voting to move forward with the sanctions, the University and College Union — which represents more than 120,000 academics across the United Kingdom — ignored the legal advice it received after the first boycott vote in 2007. Lawyers told the union then that a boycott "would be unlawful and cannot be implemented," according to the union’s Web site.

Academic Friends of Israel, a group formed in 2002 to fight academic boycotts of Israel by British organizations, moved quickly to condemn the University and College Union vote.

"I recognize of course that many of these issues are open to debate and discussion, and that legitimate criticism of Israel is acceptable," AFI director Ronnie Fraser told the Jerusalem Post. "But the recitation of a long list of allegations against Israel, and Israel alone, without any recognition that Palestinians might bear any guilt or responsibility for the current impasse, or for their own crimes against Israelis, is one-sided and anti-Semitic."

In other boycott news, the creator of the Linux computer operating system canceled three lectures at Israeli universities because of pressure from the Palestinian Authority.

Richard Stallman, an American, said his Palestinian hosts threatened to pull their financial support for his July trip if he spoke to an Israeli audience along with his planned lectures to Palestinian audiences, Haaretz reported Tuesday.

"They are unhappy that I offered to give talks at Israeli universities, and say they won’t buy the tickets if I’m going to do that," Stallman wrote in an e-mail to his Israeli coordinator.

Stallman said he will speak in the Palestinian regions as planned.

"I think it is best if I go and give the speeches they originally invited me to give," Stallman said. "I am sorry for the disappointment this will cause."

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