Lecturers back Israel academia ban
A CALL from hundreds of British university lecturers for an academic boycott of Israel has drawn a furious response from Jewish organisations, diplomats and senior rabbis.
A full-page advert in the Guardian on Tuesday was backed by 343 academics from 72 institutions, including Oxford University and Cambridge University.
They said they would refuse to work with Israeli universities, describing them as “deeply complicit” with alleged Israeli violations of international law.
Britain’s ambassador in Israel, David Quarrey, condemned the move and said the government “firmly opposes” the boycott call.
Mr Quarrey said: “We are deeply committed to promoting the UK’s academic and scientific ties with Israel, as part of the flourishing partnership between the two countries.”
The Israeli Embassy in London said theadvertwouldonlyhelp“sowhatred” and “slow the peace process”.
Simon Johnson, Jewish Leadership Council chief executive, called the advert both “divisive” and “discriminatory”, and said the backers had “double standards”.
He said: “It is ironic that the signatories in the Guardian have ignored Universities UK who earlier this year invested time and effort to oppose academic boycotts.”
Signatories of the anti-Israel Academic Commitment said they would not accept invitations to visit Israeli institutions or co-operate with academics in the country.
However there was confusion among those who had backed the boycott.
Leicester University Jewish history expert Claudia Prestel said she was unaware the commitment would appear in the Guardian.
Despite signing it, she said she was “not happy with an academic boycott. I think other options should be explored. The situation is complex and I am in two minds.”
David Mond, a professor at Warwick University, said he had signed “with regret and trepidation. The Israeli government and much of the Israeli public are so openly racist that an academic boycott now seems appropriate.”
He added: “I fear my signing the advertisement may upset friends, relatives and colleagues.”
Ilan Pappe: one of the signatories