What a boy­cott would have cost

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LEON SY­MONS

A LEAD­ING econ­o­mist has said that the UK econ­omy and em­ploy­ment in Bri­tain would suf­fer badly in the event of an aca­demic boy­cott of Is­rael.

Com­ment­ing on a new re­port high­light­ing the fi­nan­cial im­pact on Bri­tain if last year’s aborted aca­demic boy­cott against Is­rael had gone ahead, Jonathan Hoff­man, who has worked for the Bank of Eng­land and other ma­jor fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, said: “The UK econ­omy would suf­fer in the event of a hy­po­thet­i­cal aca­demic boy­cott.

“There would be third party reper­cus­sions — for ex­am­ple, from US foun- da­tions and com­pa­nies pulling out of Bri­tain, per­haps with le­gal en­cour­age­ment from Congress, which would mag­nify the im­pact.”

The re­port, which has been is­sued as a new boy­cott is threat­ened by the Univer­sity and Col­lege Union, con­cen­trates on fig­ures for 2006 and shows that Is­rael con­trib­uted di­rectly about £1.7 bil­lion to­wards Bri­tain’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct on a per capita ba­sis. This made Is­rael the UK’s 26th most im­por­tant trad­ing part­ner per capita, ahead of the USA, Ja­pan and South Africa.

It re­veals that there were more than 200 aca­demics and al­most 1,000 Is­raeli stu­dents work­ing here. It also ex­am­ined the jobs Is­raelis take as well as tourism and cul­tural and sport­ing links. The re­port es­ti­mates that there were roughly 14,000 Is­raelis liv­ing in Bri­tain, who con­trib­uted around £600 mil­lion to GDP in 2006.

The re­port was com­mis­sioned by the Bri­tain-Is­rael Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Re­search Cen­tre (Bicom) and was writ­ten by busi­ness anal­y­sis or­gan­i­sa­tion Ox­ford Eco­nomics. The JC un­der­stands that Bicom com­mis­sioned it last year to high­light the ef­fect that a full aca­demic boy­cott could have had, not just on academia but on eco­nomic links be­tween the two coun­tries.

Bicom de­cided to go ahead with the study de­spite UCU drop­ping, on le­gal ad­vice, its boy­cott plans. The UCU is re­viv­ing the boy­cott is­sue at its con­fer­ence at the end of this month.

Com­ment­ing on the re­port, Mr Hoff­man said: “The UK’s pop­u­la­tion is more than eight times that of Is­rael, so it is not sur­pris­ing that the pro­por­tion of UK GDP ac­counted for by eco­nomic links with Is­rael is small — £1.7 bil­lion is just 0.1 per cent of UK GDP. But this grossly un­der­es­ti­mates the loss that the UK econ­omy would suf­fer.

“In­sti­tu­tions from other coun­tries — for ex­am­ple, Canada, Aus­tralia and the Euro­pean Union — would quickly get drawn in. All in all, I be­lieve there would be a sig­nif­i­cant loss to UK GDP and to em­ploy­ment if the UCU was fool­ish enough to try again to in­tro­duce a boy­cott of Is­raeli aca­demics.”

Apart from eco­nomic in­for­ma­tion, the re­port re­veals that the vast ma­jor­ity of Is­raelis live in Lon­don and the South-East.

It fur­ther re­veals that in 2006, more than 40 per cent of Bri­tish-based Is­raelis were em­ployed as man­agers and se­nior of­fi­cials and 24 per cent in pro­fes­sional oc­cu­pa­tions.

The re­port also of­fered a com­pre­hen­sive list of joint An­glo-Is­raeli projects in a num­ber of fields, no­tably science.

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