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British University and College Union (UCU): Speaking Out of Both Sides of Its Collective Mouth to Avoid Legal Consequences of Israel Boycott

Paris, 30 May 2008

Despite warnings from their own legal counsel that they would have violated United Kingdom anti-discrimination laws, the University and College Union
(UCU) has still reintroduced a motion to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

At the same time, Secretary-General of the Union, Sally Hunt, would hope to deter legal action against them by stating that the boycott is not "a major priority of the Union".

Aware that UCU extremists have betrayed the mandate to its members - to insure job security and obtain improved work conditions - the boycott issue may yet lead to a waste of resources in defence litigation and possible implosion.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has long monitored and challenged the continuing series of boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel, predominantly emanating from Britain.

Several of the boycotters are bending backwards in claims that the resolution "to consider the moral and political implications of education links with Israeli institutions" is not, in fact, a boycott!

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre believes that if it sounds like boycott, stinks like boycott and targets Israeli academics and their Jewish kin, then it is not only boycott: it is the exclusion and delegitimization of Jews in the manner of nineteenth century university antisemitism, euphemistically known as "numerus clausus".

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre pledges, through its British constituency, to stand by the victims of UCU antisemitism - whether Jewish members of the Union harassed on grounds of race, or Israeli academics discriminated on grounds of nationality. This is a sad day for British academia. As a British-born graduate of a leading UK university, my own pride in my alma mater - should it be complicit in this outrage - would be grievously impugned.

Dr Shimon Samuels
Director for International Relations, Simon Wiesenthal Centre

For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels at +33.609.77.01.58