Israeli professor has UK workshop cancelled after union opposition


A youth wearing a gas mask and holding the Palestinian flag looks on during clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians and foreign activists along the controversial separation barrier close to the village of Bilin, just west of the city Ramallah in the West Bank, on April 13, 2012.



LONDON, UK – A workshop on conflict resolution set to be given by an Israeli lecturer in England's north-western city of Manchester next week has been cancelled by the British National Health Service due to opposition from participating trade union members.

Professor Moty Cristal, an expert on crisis management and negotiating skills, had been invited by the Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust to lead a class for managers and union officials entitled “The Role of Negotiation in Dealing with Conflict.”

But he received an email on Friday cancelling the event following pressure from members of UNISON, the UK’s largest trade union, “on the grounds that it is [the union’s] policy and also that of the Trades Union Council to support the Palestinian people,” Haaretz reports.

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Cristal, who has worked with Palestinian groups and human rights organizations, told The Guardian he was “furious from a professional point of view and deeply disappointed from a national point of view.”

“I have always been perceived first and foremost as an expert, rather than as an Israeli. But here people didn’t have the wisdom to look behind the Israeli flag to my professional contribution,” he said, adding that in his lectures he stressed the “importance of having dialogue between people with different ideas.”

A spokeswoman for UNISON – which represents 1.3 million public sector workers – confirmed that its members had requested that Cristal’s invitation be withdrawn.

Amir Ofek, the press attaché at the Israeli Embassy in London, told The Jewish Chronicle that “the cancellation of a private expert simply due to his citizenship or ethnic identity is a racist policy in every way.” 

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