Boycott Debate Is Back

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One of Britain's two major faculty unions — the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education — is getting ready to vote on a resolution that would call on members to consider staying away from Israeli colleges or professors unless they specifically oppose a series of policies opposed by the union. The proposal has reignited tensions over anti-Israel boycotts that became quite intense last year when the other major union in British academe started its own boycott and then called it off — amid widespread criticism from American faculty groups.

The latest boycott proposal — which will be voted on later this month and which calls Israel’s policies ones of “apartheid” — differs from last year’s in several ways. Last year’s boycott was stated as general policy, but applied only to two Israeli universities: Bar-Ilan University and the University of Haifa. This year’s resolution is at once more narrow and more broad. It calls only for individual faculty members to consider “their own responsibility” and to “consider the appropriateness of a boycott.” But it appears to apply to all Israeli academics and institutions — and it exempts those Israeli academics who “publicly dissociate themselves” from the positions of the Israeli government.

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