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U.K. union bars Israeli expert from conference on conflict resolution (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Anshel Pfeffer 04/30/12)Source: http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/u-k-union-bars-israeli-expert-from-conference-on-conflict-resolution-1.427188 HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
A master-class on conflict resolution that was set to be given by an Israeli lecturer in Manchester next week was canceled by the British National Health Service, after trade union members who were to take part in the class objected to participating in a workshop with an Israeli expert.

Moty Cristal, an Israeli expert on negotiating skills and crisis- management, was to have taught a class entitled The Role of Negotiation in Dealing with Conflict, as part of a workshop on conflict resolution for health-trust managers and union officials. The workshop is being organized by Manchester Mental Trust, part of the NHS.

Cristal has worked in the past with Palestinian groups and human- rights organizations, and has lectured on his field on numerous occasions in Britain, including a lecture to the Muslim Council of Britain. Despite this, he received an e-mail on Friday from Manchester Mental Trust chief executive Jackie Daniel that Cristal´s expertise was no longer required, following pressure by members of UNISON, Britain´s largest trade union, which represents 1.3 million public service workers. The message said the class was being canceled "on the grounds that it is [the union´s] policy and also that of the Trades Union Council to support the Palestinian people."

While the council has voted in the past against general boycott resolutions of Israel (while boycotting goods manufactured in West Bank settlements ), the UNISON National Delegate Conference has repeatedly voted in favor of a general boycott, despite the recommendation of its national executive to "critically engage" instead with Israelis and Israeli organizations, including the Histadrut.

The lecture by Cristal had been organized and sponsored by the NHS, which is owned by the British government and does not boycott Israel in any way.

Senior UNISON officials who were contacted by Haaretz were unaware of the decision, indicating that it was most likely reached following pressure by local officials in Manchester. At last year´s UNISON conference, the Manchester Hospitals branch of the union demanded a boycott, with branch secretary Frances Kelly saying that "it is time all world organizations decided to boycott all Israeli institutions implicated in the occupation and its practices."

Cristal responded to the cancelation by writing to Daniel, "In terms of your future bargaining position with UNISON, I believe that the last minute cancelation is perceived more of an appeasement toward UNISON, rather than a leadership call. Values-wise, unlike you, I am confident that the only way to resolve conflicts, let alone the Israeli-Palestinian one, is through effective communication and constructive dialogue, rather than violence or boycotts."

The Israeli Embassy in London said in response that "the cancelation of a private expert simply due to his citizenship or ethnic identity is a racist policy in every way. What is even more shameful is the fact this was supposed to be an NHS-sponsored workshop dealing, ironically, with negotiating and conflict resolution. It seems that those who canceled it are in urgent need of such training.

The NHS and UNISON did not respond to requests for comments. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 04/30/12)

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