Lec­tur­ers back Is­rael academia ban

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ROSA DO­HERTY

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

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