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Anti-boycott effort gaining momentum

Opposition to the proposed British academic boycott of Israel is gaining momentum.A petition to the University and College Union, the association of British university teachers that recently proposed a boycott of Israeli universities, has received more than 22,000 signatures. On Wednesday, full-page ads opposing the boycott appeared in two major British newspapers. The ads, which included hundreds of signatories, were spearheaded by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.And Scholars for Peace in the Middle East is asking academics to declare themselves to be Israeli academics for purposes of the boycott, an effort led by an international coalition of Nobel laureates and such figures as Alan Dershowitz and Elie Wiesel. The group reportedly has garnered thousands of signatures endorsing a solidarity statement with Israeli academics. In response to the newspaper ads, UCU President Sally Hunt said debate on the boycott would proceed as planned. “This does not mean an academic boycott is currently in place or that UCU is committed to such a boycott in the future,” Hunt wrote in a letter published in the Guardian. Over the weekend, British Higher Education Minister Bill Rammel visited Israel and reaffirmed his government’s opposition to an academic boycott.