BUCU Motion: Protect the academic freedom to support the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle

This Branch notes:

  • The attempts to intimidate and silence Palestinians around the world, including the murder of a child in Chicago and the cancellation by the Frankfurt Book Fair of a ceremony to honour the author Adania Shibli.
  • Similar attempts in Britain, including: HMG’s demand that civil-society institutions side publicly and overtly with the Israeli state; the Home Secretary’s threatened restrictions on displaying the flag of Palestine; recent arrests of protestors for no other reason than that they wore the keffiyeh and/or held a Palestine flag; the police-enforced cancellation of the launch by the Jewish American journalist Nathan Thrall of his “A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: A Palestine Story.’
  • The proliferation of McCarthyite attacks on academic freedom across UK campuses, whipped up by national newspapers, which have targeted academics and suspended students and student societies who have expressed support for the Palestinians’ anti-colonial struggle.
  • The statement by BRISMES on “the Attack on Free Speech on UK Campuses

 This Branch believes:

  • Freedom of speech and association are the lifeblood of a functioning democracy.
  • Governments should not use war as a pretext to clamp down on protest.
  • Trade unionists should defend the right of students and academics to express solidarity with Palestinians, at this time when the freedom to do so is increasingly being curtailed by universities and the British government.
  • Attempts by the Israeli government and its supporters to define antisemitism in ways that prohibit criticism of Israel signify the attempt to silence defenders of Palestinian rights, and, in practice, debase the struggle against antisemitism itself.

Brunel UCU resolves to:

  • Call on Brunel University to reassure academic staff that the right to education, freedom of speech, and academic freedom will be protected.
  • Give its full support to UCU’s national policy to protect students and staff who find themselves under attack for expressing support for the Palestinians’ anti-colonial struggle.

[Passed at a quorate branch meeting: 23.10.23]