A master-class on conflict resolution for health-trust managers and union officials that was set to be given by an Israeli lecturer in Manchester next week was cancelled by the Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust after local 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”. 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 the company that organized the event, saying that his 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 cancelled “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, 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 Israeli Embassy in London said 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 cancelled it are in urgent need of such training.”
And Cristal responded to the cancelation by writing to Manchester Mental Trust chief executive Jackie Daniel:
“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.”