International scholars’ group rips academic boycott of Israel


(JTA) — Scholars for Peace in the Middle East has condemned Britain’s largest academic union for voting to adopt an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

The international organization has also condemned the University and College Union for rejecting the European Union definition of anti-Semitism.

The resolution was passed on May 29 at UCU’s annual conference in Harrogate, Yorkshire. It is the union’s third such vote since it was established in 2006.

The Board of Directors of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East said in a statement issued June 7 that it: "Strongly condemns the Union of College and Universities vote on May 29, 2011 to promote the campaign to academically boycott Israel, despite advice from its own legal counsel which has advised it may be a illegal action based on discriminatory practices as well as being well beyond the scope of the charter of the union."

The statement also strongly condemned "the UCU voting to disassociate itself from the European Union (EU) Working Definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism on May 30, 2011 which signals to all that the Union does not take anti-Semitism seriously. In rejecting this working definition the UCU is promoting a hostile, anti-Semitic study and work environment for Jewish and Israeli students and faculty in colleges and universities throughout the UK who support the right of Israel to exist within safe and secure borders and who challenge those who would demonize, delegitimize and hold Israel to a double standard despite the Union’s protestations and rationalizations to the contrary."

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East represents about 55,000 university and college professors, researchers, administrators, teachers, librarians, and students on more than 3,500 campuses worldwide, according to its website.

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