Petition of NTEU Members for a Union-Wide Debate on BDS

The illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory constitutes a serious and ongoing violation of Palestinian people’s human rights. It also imposes restrictions on their academic freedom, including their ability to study, teach and conduct research. This places the question of Israel/Palestine squarely within the ambit of NTEU business.


In recent years Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions tactics (BDS) have come to the forefront of the global campaign for Palestine solidarity. In 2005 over 170 Palestinian civil society organisations, including the Federation of Unions of Palestinian Universities’ Professors and Employees, called on the international community to adopt BDS. In light of the ongoing oppression of Palestinians, particularly the horrific Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014, the NTEU has an obligation to take a position, as have many Australian unions to date.

Australian universities present a number of potential opportunities for BDS tactics through their links with a broad range of Israeli institutions, and through opportunities they provide to Israelis which are not available to Palestinians. These include exchange and scholarship arrangements and institution-level research partnerships.

Accordingly we, the undersigned members of the NTEU, call on the national and branch leadership of the National Tertiary Education Union to:

1. Open a broad discussion among members at local branch level about how to respond to the BDS call.

2. Facilitate this discussion by communicating with members about BDS via email and other means, informing them of BDS-related events on campus, and allowing space at branch meetings for a full, diverse and balanced airing of the issue.

3. Hold a vote on whether to endorse BDS and if so, in what form, at branch level within a time frame appropriate for each branch that allows for a thorough discussion of the issue.

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