U.K. education chief opposes boycott


A member of the British Cabinet said he opposes academic boycotts of Israel.

Newly appointed Education Minister Ed Balls offered the assurance in a meeting in London last week with Israeli Education Minister Yuli Tamir. It was the first public stance against the proposed academic boycott of Israel by Britain’s University and College Union taken by a member of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s new Cabinet.

Also last week, members of Parliament from all three major parties condemned the potential UCU boycott.

“Such boycotts threaten academic freedom and intellectual exchange, and cannot be acceptable,” said Iain Wright, under secretary of state at the Department of Communities and Local Government.

At a general congress in late June, the UCU passed a motion committing the union to further discussion of a boycott of Israel that would eliminate cooperation between Israeli and British academic institutions.

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