The Academic Friends of Israel
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
No. 66, 2 March 2008 / 25 Adar Rishon 5768
The Academic Boycott of Israel: A Review of the Five-Year UK Campaign to Defeat It
- On 28 September 2007, Britain's University and College Union (UCU) announced that, based on legal advice, an academic boycott of Israel would run a serious risk of infringing UK discrimination legislation and could not be implemented. The call for an academic boycott of Israel was a political move that from the start had very little chance of success as 60 percent of UK universities have joint programs and links with Israeli universities. Israel's enemies, however, used it to draw attention to their campaign for Israel's delegitimization and destruction. The success of the boycott campaign is not the number of actions that have succeeded but the fact that the issue is in the public domain.
- The Israeli response to the boycott movement from 2002 to 2005 was haphazard and uncoordinated. Once the boycott motion of the 2005 Association of University Teachers (AUT) Congress had been overturned, Bar-Ilan University formed the International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom, which provided the main Israeli response. Yet it was only in February 2007 that the Israeli universities decided that the IAB should coordinate and speak on behalf of all of them.
- Nearly 35 years of often unquestioned British trade-union support for Israel and the Histadrut ended in 1982 when the Trades Union Congress passed its first congress resolution critical of Israel, which also recognized the Palestinian people's right to self-determination. From that point on, many British unions have given support to the Palestinians and the boycott campaign while passing resolutions that are highly critical of Israeli actions in the "occupied" territories.
- There is an urgent need for a proactive strategy especially on the part of the UK Jewish community to build positive relationships with the leadership of institutions, trade unions, and professional bodies, something that has been lacking in recent years in the UK. It will be important to promote the positive side of Israel, for example, its academic excellence. The UK community also needs to monitor and record what is said by well-known anti-Zionists and boycotters, and to publish academic critiques of this propaganda……….
An earlier essay The Academic Boycott of Israel: Why Britain? also by Ronnie Fraser has been has been updated and published by The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in the book; Academics against Israel and the Jews edited by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld [ISBN 978-965-218-057-5, 276 pp.]
The book can be purchased from the following places:
In Israel: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org
In USA: Center for Jewish Community Studies, email@example.com
Via the Internet: Scholars for Peace in the Middle East or Amazon
The essay can also be also be found at on the Academic Friends of Israel website; http://www.academics-for-israel.org/Academic%20Boycott%20of%20Israel%20-JCPA%20updated%202007.doc
Patron: The Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld - Chairman of the Board of Fellows, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Henry Grunwald Q.C. - President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews
John D A Levy - Director of the Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East
Andrew R. Marks, M.D. - Columbia University, USA
Dr Robin Stamler
Professor Leslie Wagner CBE
Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham
The Academic Friends of Israel Ltd is limited by guarantee and registered in England No 5297417.