British academic union drops Israel boycott


LONDON (JTA) — Britain’s University and College Union dropped its threat of boycotting Israeli academic institutions following legal action by some of its members.

Two professors from Oxford University, Michael Yudkin and Denis Noble, threatened to sue their own union over the boycott call. Their lawyers sent a letter to the union advising that a boycott would contradict the union’s own rules as well as British law.

During UCU’s annual conference in May, the union voted to “disseminate the testimonies” of a UCU delegation to Palestine and to use the testimonies to “promote a wide discussion of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions.” This was widely interpreted as a call to boycott Israeli universities. The motion also demanded that Ariel College in the West Bank “be investigated under the formal Greylisting Procedure” – a prelude to boycotting the college.

This week, the union’s national executive committee decided not to implement the resolution as planned.

The two members who threatened to sue the union over the boycott said they’d resume their effort to sue if there were any future attempts at boycott Israeli academic institutions.

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