by Will Woodward | The Guardian | 5 May 2003
A university lecturers' union will debate a call for an academic boycott of Israel at its annual conference in Scarborough this week.
The executive of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) is opposing a motion to be put before delegates on Friday by Sue Blackwell, a pro- Palestine campaigner from Birmingham University.
The motion says: "In view of Israel's repeated breaches of UN resolutions and of the Geneva conventions, council urges all UK institutions of higher education, all AUT local associations and all AUT members to review immediately, with a view to severing, any academic links they may have with official Israeli institutions, including universities."
The debate will revive the controversy over the decision last year by Mona Baker, a professor at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (Umist), to drop two eminent scholars from the boards of her privately-run translation journals because they worked at Israeli universities.
Umist criticised her move and launched an inquiry, after which it said it had no grounds for any action against her.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the AUT, told the Sunday Telegraph: "The AUT is a broad church and contains a wide spectrum of views on numerous matters. This subject will be fully debated and I am sure those who feel strongly about the issue will put their arguments forward."
The AUT conference, which begins on Wednesday, will also debate calls for an eventual merger with Natfhe, the other lecturers' union, which has 47,000 members in colleges and 20,000 in mainly newer universities. The AUT has 46,000 members, mainly in older universities.