Boycott Plan of Israel Academics Rejected

The Associated Press 10th May(?)

LONDON (AP) - A teachers' union rejected a proposal Friday for British universities to sever all ties with Israeli academic institutions in protest of Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

Two-thirds of the 200 delegates at the annual conference of the Association of University Teachers voted ``no'' to the proposal put forward by a lecturer at Birmingham University.

Sue Blackwell, the lecturer in the English department, told the delegates in Scarborough, northeastern England, that just as Britain had boycotted South Africa it should impose one on ``today's apartheid regime.''

She claimed that from its inception Israel had violated U.N. resolutions and the Geneva Conventions regarding the rights of the Palestinians. She said the actions have drawn international condemnation.

``The question for us is what we can do to show our disgust at this abhorrent regime,'' she said. ``There has been half a century of human rights abuses by Israel. Isn't it time we took some action?''

Alan Waton, an executive member of the 46,000-strong association, warned that such a boycott would be counterproductive to the union's aims.

He said there were many Israelis within universities in Israel who sympathized with the Palestinians and that links with those people should be fostered rather than severed.

The International Academic Friends of Israel, an activist group based in New York City, condemned the proposal, saying its proponents ``join an increasing number of global scientists and academics who are using the politics of the Middle East as an excuse to boycott and ostracize their Israeli counterparts.''

Last year, hundreds of European academics called for a boycott of Israeli universities to protest the treatment of the Palestinians. The move led to the firing of two Israelis from British publications and prompted allegations of discrimination and intellectual censorship.

Delegate Simon Renton of University College London said the imposition of a boycott would be ``intolerant, arrogant and imperialistic.''

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