UCU, the lecturers’ union, formed from the merger of Natfhe and AUT, meets in conference for the first time at the end of May.
The SWP have a softish motion for a boycott of Israel on the agenda (through Brighton University and UEL).
The motion includes the following stupidity, “Congress believes that in these circumstances [of Israeli occupation] passivity or neutrality is unacceptable and criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-semitic.”
Such a statement – that no criticism of Israel is anti-semitic – is no casual, sloppy mistake. The last Natfhe conference, in 2006, passed a similar clause, also from the SWP at Brighton University. (It was then subject to special pleading from NATFHE leader Paul Mackney, who claimed the sentence did not mean what it clearly does: that no criticism of Israel is anti-semitic).
In fact, much criticism of Israel is indisputably anti-semitic. Think of Iran’s Holocaust denial conference, Arab TV stations screening a dramatised version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or Ahmedinejad’s threat to wipe Israel off the map.
The SWP/Brighton motion squirms around, only demanding the circulation of the “Palestinian boycott call to all branches for information and discussion; [and to] encourage members to consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions.”
Delegates should support a Community Education Lewisham amendment which guts the boycott motion of its deeply offensive content.