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Israel's academic unions are supporting UK academics in their current pay dispute
Added by David Hirsh on May 11, 2006 09:37:42 AM.
The boycott campaign is trying to transform NATFHE conference from an organising forum for our current pay dispute into an Israel-hating circus.

Meanwhile Israeli academics are supporting their British collegues in our current "action short of a strike" that is being organised by AUT and NATFHE.

Here is the letter from the Chair of the Coordinating Committee of Faculty Associations in Israel, Prof Zvi HaCohen, as posted on Labourstart:

to: Ms. Sally Hunt, General Secretary of AUT

Dear Ms. Hunt

I'd like to offer our support of the AUT struggle for a pay increase. We strongly believe that a nation's success is directly linked with the level of education provided to its people. Higher education is one of the best criteria for predicting national growth and success. This can hardly be done without properly compensating the faculty. We wish you success in your struggle for a reasonable salary, especially as I understand that the requested increase would come from top up fees, rather than directly from the employers. We too were involved in a prolonged series of negotiations lasting almost 5 years to improve our pension. It ended only after we have notified the universities and the ministry of treasury that unless the contract is signed we would declare an open ended nation-wide strike.
On behalf of my colleagues I'd like to wish you success.
Best regards

Prof. Zvi Ha Cohen
Chair, the Coordinating Council of Israel's Faculty Associations
Chair, BGU Faculty Association
Maks and Rochelle Chair in Desert Research
J. Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
Ben Gurion University

Jon Pike writes:

The Coordinating Committee of Faculty Associations is the organisation that Sue Blackwell and other boycotters declared ‘not to exist’ during last year's boycott battle. It is the organisation she refuses to recognise, or listen to. In this, she is at least consistent, since she denies the right of Israel to exist.

The Coordinating Committee of Faculty Associations is an ordinary committee representing ordinary academics in ordinary universities. In the past, it’s been involved in disputes just like ours, with the Israeli government, and doubtless it will be, again. The academics involved in the Israeli Faculty Associations recognise our dispute, and support us. But the boycotters want to exclude these academics – just at the moment that they express their solidarity with us in our dispute – from research collaboration, from journals, from conferences. The boycotters still pursue a covert campaign against individuals with affiliations to Israeli institutions, ignoring the opposition of the representative bodies of Israeli academics, ignoring the Faculty Associations, ignoring the Coordinating Committee, ignoring the widespread opposition of Israeli academics. These people, they still say, are uniquely complicit, are uniquely suborned, are different.

Here’s how I see it. There are some nasty characters in Israeli academia, some with racist views. (But this, is unfortunately, not unusual - recently a rather unpleasant racist lecturer came out of the woodwork at Leeds University). There are plenty of Israeli academics with whom I disagree politically – I was hoping for a Peretz victory in the general election. There are plenty more with whom I agree that Israel, embroiled in a nasty conflict with the Palestinians, is often, and in large measure, culpable in that conflict. I have ordinary political - and philosophical - arguments with my colleagues in Israel, and at Palestinian Universities as well, and those will continue. So will the straightforward expressions of solidarity from and to academics around the world when they try to improve their pay and conditions.