15:42 , 06.11.06
UK ban of Israeli academics lifted
Merger of two UK teachers' unions leads to cancellation of boycott on Israeli academics
A boycott of Israeli academics declared by a UK teachers' union in May was cancelled on Sunday after the union's merger with a lager body whose delegates oppose the motion.
The boycott was also partially lifted because of a campaign against the move by academics in Israel, Britain and the United States.
Israeli academics, however, remain pessimistic.
The University and College Lecturers' Union (NATFHE) voted for a motion that urged its members to boycott Israeli academics who do not condemn Israel's "apartheid policies."
The Association of University Teachers, a larger union with whom NATFHE merged to form the University and College Union, threatened to cancel the merger if the boycott is not lifted.
'A smart decision'
Chairman of Knesset Committee for Science and Technology, MK Zevulun Orlev, welcomed the decision saying, "sanity and morality transcended anti-Semitic trends. I welcome the victory of academic freedom."
Prof. Shlomo Grossman, Vice chairman of Planning & Budgeting Committee at the Council for Higher Education, welcomed the move: "The boycott constitutes grave discrimination against Israel. I am glad they reached the conclusion that it is impossible to mix research, academia and politics. I think this is a smart decision, and I hope we won't have to deal with boycotts of the kind in the future."
Professor Yosef Yeshurun, the rector of Bar-Ilan University and chairman of the Council for Academic Freedom, said "I pleased with the decision and I thank all the organizations in Britain, the United States, and in Israel who helped in the effort.
Special thanks to Dr. Anthony Julius for his court battles against the organizations' management. We don't believe in these academic boycotts but in open dialogue, which is the only way to establish relations. Every academic boycott is detrimental to relations, to the advancement of peace."
"The Bar-Ilan University Council for Academic Freedom is obligated to continue to struggle against academic boycotts, protect academic freedom and monitor other covert or open boycotts around the world, as well as inform the public in Israel and around the world of such cases."
Yeshurun added: "We will continue to follow the UK teachers' union in order to prevent another attempt to boycott Israel. Our British counterparts are doing the same while communicating with the organizations.”