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Opposing Israeli boycott

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2007-05-17



A delegation of top academics from Israel have arrived in the UK to hold meetings with fellow academics and members of the University and College Union to explain why it is unjustified to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

The visit, organised by The Fair Play Campaign Group and The International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom comes less than two weeks weeks before a vote to boycott Israel by the Union.

The delegation will be travelling across the UK to meet with both supporters of a boycott as well as those who oppose it.

Among those who arrived from Israel are Professor Daphna Erdinast-Vulkan of Haifa University and English-born Dr. Jonathan Rynhold and Professor Miriam Shlesinger of Bar Ilan University who was previously head of Amnesty International in Israel.

"A boycott against Israel is discriminatory and it will achieve no useful purpose," said Shlesinger. "It discriminates against individual people and individual institutions and it will deprive me of my academic freedom."

She added: "Many academics like myself are acting on behalf of the causes that the UCU and others espouse except that by deterring us from doing this, they are achieving the exact opposite."

Jeremy Newmark of The Fair Play Campaign Group and chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council said of the delegation arriving in the UK. "They have taken their perspective into the heart of the pro-boycott camp and made a huge contribution to our collective work to promote academic freedom and oppose discrimination in this country.”

Adding his comments, Rynhold said: "We hope that the delegation will succeed in bringing our message to British academia – that a boycott defies the universal principle of academic freedom, is a form of discrimination against Israel and will ultimately prove counter-productive to peace and reconciliation."