"Sydney University academics have narrowly voted against supporting or even discussing boycotts of Israel, after the head of their union staged an unusual intervention which left the faculty deeply divided. A general meeting on Wednesday saw a motion to continue a discussion of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign defeated by 68 votes in favour to 56 against, after a vigorous debate. A second motion put by the general secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union, Grahame McCulloch, to not endorse BDS or devote union resources to debate it, was passed by a similar margin... Mr McCulloch is understood to have told the closed-door meeting that launching a debate about the BDS campaign would prove divisive at a time when the union needed unity to fight immediate issues like federal budget cuts..." (Unionists at Sydney side-step debate on Israel boycott, Ean Higgins, The Australian, 6/6/14)
OK, so that's the official line, is it? The NTEU must stick to "immediate issues like federal budget cuts"?
Another iteration of same came from Sydney University Professor Dianna Kenny:
"I believe that the proper agenda of the NTEU is the survival of higher education - particularly in light of the... budget." (Academics at war over Israel boycott, Ean Higgins, The Australian, 4/6/14)
If the NTEU general secretary or the 68 Sydney University staff who voted to gag discussion on this issue as a distraction from "the proper agenda of the NTEU," defined as "budget cuts," maybe the National President of the NTEU, Jeannie Rea*, should be censured for devoting union time and resources to her recent (2/6) condemnation of the military coup in Thailand, which can be read at the NTEU's website under the heading: Condemnation of the coup in Thailand.
But is the old core business furphy really just a cover for someone with a soft spot for Israel? The following sentence from Higgin's 6/6 report suggests so:
"[McCulloch] suggested supporters of BDS were really pushing a radical 'one state' outcome in the Middle East."
[*"NTEU president Jeannie Rea said Sydney University had a 'good record' on supporting freedom of intellectual inquiry." (Dalai Lama's office 'suggested' venue change, John Ross, The Australian, 19/4/13) Not any more!]