Members of Britain’s Labor Party spoke out against a proposed academic boycott of Israel.
At Monday’s Labor Party Conference fringe meeting British Minister for Higher Education and Universities, Bill Rammel, called the proposed University and College Union (UCU) academic boycott of Israel “politically self-indulgent” and said that peace in the Middle East would be achieved by “the politics of engagement, not the politics of isolation.”
The conference, entitled “Academic Boycott: a Flawed Approach” was jointly organized by the Jewish Labor Movement and the Stop the Boycott Campaign.
Professor Drummond Bone, Vice Chancellor of Liverpool University and outgoing Chair of the Universities UK higher education action group, said the boycott movement has a “sinister edge” and stressed that not one of the more than 140 Vice Chancellors in the UK supported it.
Responding to pro-boycott activists who challenged the speakers, Jeremy Newmark, Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership council, pointed out that they sought to deny Israeli academics the same freedom of expression that they enjoyed. Wes Streeting, Vice President (Education) of the National Union of Students (NUS) highlighted the potential negative impact of the boycott on Israeli and Jewish students in the UK.