PRESS RELEASE from Birmingham Association of University Teachers

In April this year, the Association of University Teachers voted at its annual Council meeting to boycott two Israeli universities: Bar-Ilan and Haifa. The AUT boycott was subsequently overturned at a Special Council meeting in May but it continues to be a hot

Two key figures in the controversy are now to debate the issue at Birmingham University on 15th November:

* Dr. Ilan Pappe, a historian at the University of Haifa, is one of the leading voices within Israel supporting divestment, boycotts and sanctions as the only way of ending the occupation of the Palestinian territory. He also defended a student whose MA thesis documented an alleged massacre of Palestinian villagers in 1948. He says that for his position he has been persecuted by his university. The AUT decision to boycott Haifa University stemmed from this perceived harrassment.

* Dr. David Hirsh, a sociologist at Goldsmiths College, London, was one of the leading opponents of the campaign within the AUT for a cultural and academic boycott of Israel. He is in favour of closer links between British, Israeli and Palestinian researchers, thinkers, musicians, artists, writers and students. He is editor of the Engage website (, which, he says, \”challenges contemporary antisemitism on campus, in the labour movement and in wider society\”.
He says that he is \”is in favour of a just peace agreement between Israel and
Palestine\” and he rejects what he characterises as \”the demonization of Muslims, Jews, Palestinians, Arabs, Israelis and \’Zionists\’.\”

The two will be going head to head at Birmingham University on Tuesday 15th November at 6 pm in the Avon Room on the Edgbaston campus. The meeting is
open to the public.

Notes to editors.

1. The institutions and academic disciplines of the two speakers are given here for information, but please note that they are both speaking in a personal capacity and in no way representing their institutions!

2. The meeting will be held on Tuesday 15th November in the Avon Room, University of Birmingham, starting at 6 pm. It will be chaired by Dr. William Edmondson, Vice-President of Birmingham AUT.

3. Members of the Press with a valid NUJ membership card are welcome, but they are requested to inform both BAUT ( and the University Press Office (0121-414-6681) in advance.

4. For further information contact: Sue Blackwell, BAUT Press Officer 0121 414 3219
Or BAUT office on 0121 414 6895