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Dear Paul Mackney,


I am an active member of Natfhe and long time Chairperson of
the BCUC High Wycombe Branch of Natfhe.
I was concerned to hear(although not by the courtesy of any
official channels)
that Natfhe is considering at its conference this weekend
supporting
the motion passed by the AUT at its recent conference, to
boycott two Israeli
Universities. I wish to point out that at no time has my
branch been consulted or informed that this was going to be
proposed and must therefore presume that the same
unrepresentative
group of people have chosen to yet again split the
membership
on issues which are inaccurately explained, shunned by the
National
Union of students and all fair minded people who want to see
a just
peace in the Middle East.
Regional Council meetings with inadequate notice, held on
Saturdays
without advance notice of motions show continued contempt
by some for the
membership.
As a lifelong trade unionist and academic, I am saddened
that at a time when Israel and the Palestinian authority
have restarted meaningful talks, the AUT should have voted
to take action to boycott Bar Ilan and Haifa Universities.
For those who really wish to see a just solution for the
Palestinian people and genuine peace and security for the
Jewish State of Israel, then discussion and negotiation are
the only way forward, not boycotts and action against
Israeli academics which in my view as a British trade
unionist can only be described as racist in accordance with
UK and European law.
I had thought that Natfhe was now taking a more even handed
approach
and was wishing to see cooperation between Palistinian and
Israeli educators
In the recent past, many AUT and some of our members have
been the most
vocal about academic freedom, only now for their own dark
purposes, appear to be willing to deny the Jewish state of
Israel and its academics the same rights.
Unlike some of the Natfhe activists who seem to be happy to
be
unrepresentative of the membership and to insist on the
archane undemocratic structures (Region and
Conference"representatives")
hard working branch officers such as myself would be pleased
to see as
much effort from all of these people on the key issues which
directly
affect our members.
I am ashamed to be associated with those who appear to
only pay lip service to equal opportunities and racism,
conveniently having a blind spot towards the complexities of
the Middle East and the rights of the Palestinian people to
self determination in their own state which recognises the
rights of the Jewish State of Israel to peaceful
coexistence.
I understand that those opposed to the boycott motion at the
AUT
were not allowed to put their point of view
and point out the inaccuracies in the case of the boycott
supporters. By not allowing all branches to see motions of
this
sort before they go to conference, Natfhe continues to
reinforce its
lack of commitment to the membership in terms of democracy
and continues
to act a in a cynical unrepresentative way.
In my opinion, the action of the AUT supported by some
Natfhe "representatives"
would be more fitting at the conference of ignorant racists
and the BNP
rather than an informed HE academic trade unions.
Despite your own view on these issues, I urge you not to
allow Natfhe to become embroiled in a policy which no self
respecting
branch officer would ever defend a member who fell foul of
their
management over and for which Natfhe could offer them no
defense whatsoever.
At a time of growing anti semitism in some of our education
institutions and generally in UK society, the attitude
displayed towards Israel cannot be divorced from this.
Should Natfhe pursue its continued unrepresentative and
intemparate view towards Israel, I for one will publically
disassociate myself from it.
I should be pleased to receive a response from you so that I
can fully inform my Branch members.

Best Wishes,

Stephen Soskin

Stephen Soskin MA, Cert Ed.,ILTM,FInstTT
Principal Lecturer and Chairperson
Natfhe BCUC
High Wycombe Branch
Faculty of Leisure and Tourism
Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College
Queen Alexandra Road
High Wycombe
Buckinghamshire
HP11 2JZ

 

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