U.K. union bars Israeli expert from conference on conflict resolution (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Anshel Pfeffer 04/30/12)
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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
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
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
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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