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Outrage over boycott

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2007-05-31



British Jewish groups have voiced their outrage over the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) to vote in favour of a planned boycott of Israeli academics and institutions.

Delegates at the Union's conference in Bournemouth backed the motion for a boycott by 158 votes to 99, with 17 abstentions.

"Now is the time to strengthen the kinds of relationships that will bring all sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict together and, in this country, create a better understanding of the complex issues through that engagement," said Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. "We call upon the Union’s leadership and all members who are rightly outraged by the decision, to work towards a reversal of this policy."

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt said of the vote: "Today's motion on boycott means all branches now have a responsibility to consult all of their members on the issue and I believe that every member should have the opportunity to have their say. The earlier motion means that any future calls for a boycott must pass key tests before a boycott can implemented."

A campaign organisation, Fair Play Campaign Group (FPCG) set up by the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council is lobbying decision makers and the public as to why any boycott of Israel is wrong.

Benjamin added that the boycott: "defies common sense and will bring the British academic community into disrepute".