A leading union in the UK, the Association of University Teachers (AUT), has voted to launch immediate boycotts of Haifa and Bar-Ilan Universities and to disseminate to all its branches for consideration the Call for Boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The vote on the 22nd of April marked a historic moment in the global movement to isolate Apartheid Israel as a means of forging effective solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, self-determination and sovereignty.
Organizers of the boycott see it as the first stage in the movement to initiate a comprehensive boycott of Apartheid Israel, in the same vein in which the racist regime of South Africa was targeted in the 1980s.
The boycott, which is now official union policy, follows the calls made from a group of 60 Palestinian academic and cultural bodies known as the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Supported by a host of civil society organizations, including the Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, PACBI stated::
âWe, Palestinian academics and intellectuals, call upon our colleagues in the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israelâs occupation, colonization and system of apartheidâ
Aside from passing the boycott motions, the debate focused on the oppression, violence and colonialism carried out by the Occupation Forces, symbolized by Zionist projects such as the Apartheid Wall. Furthermore, a decision is expected shortly on whether to boycott the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Delighted that these motions was passed by the AUT delegates, PACBI were quick to note the significance of the vote:
âFrom now on, it will be acceptable to compare Israelâs apartheid system to its South African predecessor. As a consequence, proposing practical measures to punish Israeli institutions for their role in the racist and colonial policies of their state will no longer be considered beyond the pale.â
The motions represent a historic moment in the trajectory of the global movement to isolate Apartheid Israel, using concrete and effective measures. Solidarity activists within the AUT will now prepare work to extend the academic and cultural boycott of Apartheid Israel to all institutions.