Blair: ‘Drop the boycott – it’s no good for peace’Out of all those links I couldn't find any to support any kind of boycott or any campaign against Israel by Jews. This paper calls itself the Jewish Chronicle. It used to call itself "the organ of British Jewry." Clearly it is the in house paper of the zionist movement. I think I read that it was bought out in 1913 by a consortium of zionist businessmen. Whether it changed hands since then I don't know but it clearly cannot accommodate the range of opinions held by Jews (unless, of course, I missed something in which case I'll be happy to correct). It is also indicative of the panic that zionists are now in that they refuse to run arguments in favour of campaigning against Israel in spite of the fact nearly all zionists say nowadays that they support the two state solution that Israel could have accepted at any time in the last 40 years and certainly since the PLO leadership accepted the two states idea.
By Bernard Josephs and Leon Symons
You have entered a subscription free zone. This story is from www.thejc.com – the website of The Jewish Chronicle Newspaper:
TONY BLAIR has led the worldwide condemnation of the British academics’ union supporting moves towards a boycott of Israeli universities.
In the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Blair called on the University and College Union to drop the resolution, passed at its annual meeting last week.
“I hope very much that the decision is overturned because it does absolutely no good for the peace process or indeed for relations in that part of the world,” Mr Blair told MPs. “The only solution ultimately is to relaunch the framework for a negotiated peace with a two-state solution at the heart of it.”
He also discussed the issue in a telephone call with Israel premier Ehud Olmert on Wednesday. According to a statement from Mr Olmert’s office, the boycott proposal did not reflect British public opinion, nor that of British universities.
Another sign of government displeasure was Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell’s acceptance of an invitation from Israeli Ambassador Zvi Heifetz to visit to Israel on Sunday to meet senior officials and university heads. A Parliamentary motion tabled by Labour Friends of Israel chair Jane Kennedy regretting the passing of the UCU resolution gathered 37 signatures within an hour of its presentation.
As Nobel Prize winners, research bodies, British and American Jewish leaders and Israeli politicians and academics added their voices to the protests, the executive of the embattled union was due to meet today to discuss its next move.
A spokesman insisted on Wednesday: “There is no boycott. The decision made was that there will be discussions at all our branches around the country.”
UCU has received a large number of letters and emails, “some very rude, others keen to engage in debate. But there have been no resignations.” However, King’s College London computational linguistics professor Shalom Lappin has told the JC that he has resigned from UCU because of the boycott motion and has urged colleagues to do likewise.
The UCU spokesman denied that the union had deliberately snubbed Gregg Rickman, the US special envoy for monitoring and combating anti-Semitism, who spent three days in Britain this week.
Dr Rickman claimed that the union had pulled out of a meeting with him. UCU maintained that it was “a clash of diaries. The request was made at the last minute and people were very busy after the congress.”
The New York based Anti-Defamation League took out display advertisements in The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Financial Times and today’s JC pointing out that, at a time when journalists were being arrested in Iran, activists tortured in Zimbabwe and 400,000 people murdered in Darfur, “British unions have singled out Israel for boycott. That’s antisemitism.”
Organisations such as UCU and the National Union of Journalists (which voted at its conference to boycott Israeli goods) “should be embarrassed”, the ADL declared.
UK national newspaper leader writers were briefed by London Israel Embassy officials, who were understood to be pleased that most editorials were highly critical of the boycott.
A number of anti-boycott petitions were launched on the web. One,w by an organisation calling itself the Peace in the Middle East Society, attracted more than 13,000 supporters by Wednesday.
Underlining the seriousness of the threat, Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks told the JC that the UCU vote was “part of a deeply disturbing trend which will do nothing to advance peace in the Middle East and do a great deal to harm the integrity of academic life in Britain”. The Chief Rabbi will be writing on the issue in next Friday’s JC.
Following criticism of a slow response from British Jewish leaders, a long-term campaign was launched by the Britain-Israel Communications and Research Centre (Bicom) and the Jewish Leadership Council.
Bicom chief Lorna Fitzsimons said the aim was to mobilise senior MPs and “celebrity” academics to press the case against the boycott motion.
A website, stoptheboycott.org, due to go live today will provide information and advice to people wanting to join the campaign. A fundraising effort was also under way. “We are in this to win and campaigns like this do not come cheap,” Ms Fitzsimons pointed out.
“The aim is to persuade [UCU general secretary] Sally Hunt to do as she promised in her election manifesto and hold a ballot of all UCU members on the boycott motion.”
Also key to the fightback were the academics behind Engage, the website which combated earlier moves to boycott Israeli universities. David Hirsh, the University of London sociology lecturer who edits the site, warned that the anti-Israel movement was at “critical mass” on the left and in the trades-union movement.
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See more Boycott stories
UK leaders quiet... as Americans fight back
‘Academic Freedom cannot be undermined'
‘The UCU decision is shameful and goes against intellectual pursuit'
So what is the Board of Deputies doing to fight Israel’s corner?
What they want you to boycott...
*Jewish National Fund website