Britain's primary faculty union has announced that it will reconsider a call for scholars to boycott two Israel universities.
The boycott -- of Bar-Ilan University and the University of Haifa -- was announced last month, to protest what the union, the Association of University Teachers, considers to be the universities' complicity in actions that deny basic rights to Palestinians. The boycott was immediately denounced by many academics -- including a number of education leaders in the United States -- as inappropriate.
Numerous petitions have been organized by academics against the boycott. The American Association of University Professors has been among the groups that have called for the British union to reconsider. The Israeli universities have also issued statements noting that they were never given an opportunity to tell the British scholars why they did not deserve to be boycotted.
The University of Haifa issued a statement that it was "saddened and not a little outraged by the utterly unjust action," and said that the union's stance was "devoide of empirical evidence and violates the principle of due process."
The British press has extensively covered the criticism of the boycott, and this has led some union leaders to reconsider. At the same time, however, others have strongly defended the boycott as a necessary step to counter Israeli actions.
An article in The Guardian provides an overview of the British union's politics and procedures that will be used in the next vote on the boycott, scheduled for May 26.