Fair Play leaders plan their strategy
Anti-boycott campaigners meet academics from Israeli universities
REPRESENTATIVES OF the newly launched Fair Play Campaign Group, an offshoot of the Jewish Leadership Council, have met the heads of Israeli universities to co-ordinate responses to any future academic boycott of Israel.
Co-chairs Henry Grunwald QC, president of the Board of Deputies and Brian Kerner, from the Jewish Leadership Council, met senior officials and academics from Israeli universities together with representatives of other Jewish community organisations and trade unions.
Participants included Menachem Magidor, President of the Hebrew University, Professor Jonathan Rynhold, executive member of the International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom, and Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council.
Mr Grunwald and Mr Kerner stressed the importance of preparing for this year’s conference of the newly merged UCU, the union of academic lecturers, where it is likely that a boycott motion will be proposed. Each Israeli university agreed to appoint a key person to be responsible for dealing with proposed academic boycotts.
These people will co-ordinate with the UK groups. It was also agreed that there would be an effort to increase the number of senior Israeli academics visiting the UK during 2007. The group was launched in the face of efforts by pro-Palestinian groups to persuade professional bodies in Britain to cut ties with Israel.
It will act as an early warning system and, according to Board of Deputies chief executive Jon Benjamin, allow them “to properly marshall our responses”.