343 UK scholars pledge boycott of Israeli universities


(JTA) — More than 300 scholars affiliated with British academic institutions signed a letter pledging not to cooperate with Israeli academic institutions.

The letter, which was signed by 343 scholars, was set to appear on Tuesday in a full-page ad in The Guardian, according to organizers of the letter of commitment.

“As scholars associated with British universities, we are deeply disturbed by Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, the intolerable human rights violations that it inflicts on all sections of the Palestinian people, and its apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement,” the ad reads.

The signers declared that they would not “accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions; act as referees in any of their processes; participate in conferences funded, organized or sponsored by them, or otherwise cooperate with them.”

But academics wrote that they would, “however, continue to work with our Israeli colleagues in their individual capacities.”

Among the signers are Tom Kibble, a prominent British theoretical physicist at Imperial College London; Timothy Shallice, a past director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, and Iain Borden, former head of the Bartlett School of Architecture.

Ronnie Fraser, director of the Academic Friends of Israel organization, said in a statement that the number of signers represents less than a quarter of 1 percent of the 194,245 academics working in the United Kingdom, which he said constituted a “statistically insignificant minority.”

Simon Johnson, chief executive of Britain’s Jewish Leadership Council, accused the signers of employing double standards.

“These academics should realize that boycotts are divisive and discriminatory and do nothing to advance peace or improve the lives of Palestinians,” he wrote in a statement Monday.

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