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U.K. academics back boycott of Israel

A union of academics in the United Kingdom voted to recommend a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.By a vote of 158 to 99, the University and College Union said Wednesday there should be a “comprehensive and consistent boycott” of Israel in protest of its occupation of land claimed by Palestinians and condemned the “complicity” of Israeli academics in government policies, the Guardian reported. The union’s leadership must now circulate calls for a boycott of Israeli universities to all UCU branches throughout the country.Delegates to the union’s conference in Bournemouth adopted the motion despite earlier comments by its general secretary, Sally Hunt, who said it was not a priority for the union.Jewish leaders reacted with outrage to the move. Jeremy Newmark,
chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, called the resolution
“an assault on academic freedom” that “damages the credibility of
British academia.”Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of
Deputies of British Jews, called on the union’s leadership and
membership to work to reverse the policy.Explaining why Israeli universities should be targeted, Michael Cushman of the London School of Economics said those institutions are symbols of Israeli national identity. “Senior academics move from universities into ministries and back again,” Cushman said during the hourlong debate. “Regularly, lecturers take up their commissions in the Israeli Defense Forces as reserve officers to go into the West Bank to dominate, control and shoot the population.”

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