British union may be dropping boycott plan

The proposal by Britain’s largest academic union to boycott Israel appears to be dead.

The University and College Union announced Sept. 28 that union leaders, after consulting with lawyers, had determined a boycott probably would breach British anti-discrimination laws and the union’s own guidelines.

As a result, the union canceled plans to hold debates around the country on the efficacy of the boycott, first proposed at its annual congress in May. The proposal had been roundly condemned by Jewish groups and a number of union leaders, including unions in the United States.

The legal opinion that dealt the boycott its crippling blow stated: “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 boycott had been proposed to protest what union members called the “denial of educational rights” to Palestinians. The UCU said it will now “explore the best ways to implement the non-boycott elements of the motion passed at Congress.”

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