Basically, the line up is this:
The elected General Secretary of the UK universities' union, Sally Hunt, is against the proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions. As she rightly says, the huge membership of the union as a whole doesn't support it.
Quite right, but of course neither did the entire membership support such other crackpot policies as helping to support the Stop the War Campaign and affiliating to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign as the predecessor union NATFHE was signed up to for years. Such considerations have never stood in the way of either of this union's predecessors before when it comes to hard-left inspired motions about international politics.
However, there is a motion up calling for any boycott motion to be put to the entire membership for a vote before it is ratified. It comes from a tiny college in Canterbury, where a leading moderate former NATFHE president is an influential figure. Would that motion get passed? Again, such is the outcome of the vote to the new UCU executive, packed as it is with hard left activists and members of the SWP that I find it difficult to believe that the new "Congress" (interestingly Stalinist term for a union conference) with its new and so far successful hard left caucus will support it.
Finally, here's the motion itself, put up by Brighton University and supported by one other large third rank university branch. Plus there's a host of supporting motions of various levels of intensity--one or two seeking to change the wording or leave out one of the more inflammatory paragraphs here or there.
30 - Composite: Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions (University of Brighton, Grand Parade; University of East London, Docklands)
Congress notes that Israel's 40-year occupation has seriously damaged the fabric of Palestinian society through annexation, illegal settlement, collective punishment and restriction of movement.
Congress deplores the denial of educational rights for Palestinians by invasions, closures, checkpoints, curfews, and shootings and arrests of teachers, lecturers and students.
Congress condemns the complicity of Israeli academia in the occupation, which has provoked a call from Palestinian trade unions for a comprehensive and consistent international boycott of all Israeli academic institutions.
Congress believes that in these circumstances passivity or neutrality is unacceptable and criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-semitic.
Congress instructs the NEC to
circulate the full text of the Palestinian boycott call to all branches/LAs for information and discussion;
encourage members to consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions;
organise a UK-wide campus tour for Palestinian academic/educational trade unionists;
issue guidance to members on appropriate forms of action.
My reading of the track record is still that the motion for the boycott will pass, and the one to put it out to the whole membership will be lost.
Once again, it would be wonderful to be proved wrong.
Either way, we'll know by 7pm tonight.