The recommendation to impose an academic boycott on Israel by the British University and College Union (UCU) joins a similar list of decisions taken by workers' unions in Britain and other places worldwide such as Canada and South Africa.
The British Association of Journalists took a decision to boycott Israeli products. The General Workers' Union in Britain is set to convene to discuss a similar boycott. The British Association of Architects is seeking to boycott Israeli architects, as according to the Association they assisted in building the separation fence, which it terms the "apartheid wall."
The British Medical Association is proposing to boycott Israeli doctors because it argues they are partners to "war crimes." The trade unions in Britain have turned into anti-Semites the likes of which can only be found in Arab and Muslim states.
The radical Left that stands behind the initiatives to impose boycotts on Israel is attempting to create the impression that it is only harshly criticizing Israeli policies vis-Ã -vis the Palestinians. In fact, it is negating Israel's right to exist and is conducting the harshest campaign of demonization and de-legitimization since the UN ruled that Zionism was racist.
The boycotts are the result of several causes, including fervent Palestinian activity in the public diplomacy sphere referred to as PR (hasbara) in Israel. The Palestinians have joined the radical Left, which has succeeded in taking over trade unions in several Western countries. They are also assisted by several dubious Jews and Israelis. On the other hand, Israel has neglected this front, which has become a key tool in running foreign and defense affairs.
Counter boycott not the answer
The threat of boycotts against Israel is serious; it should, therefore, be dealt with efficiently and wisely. A "counter boycott" proposed by several Knesset members is not the appropriate answer. The cabinet, the Prime Minister's Office, the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport should be involved as little as possible.
Non governmental offices are much more reliable than government ministries; therefore, they conduct more efficient public diplomacy. The struggle against the academic boycott should be conducted by the International Advisory Board on Academic Freedom headquartered at the Bar Ilan University and by academic organizations in Israel. The campaign against the British Association of Journalists should be conducted by the Israel Association of Israel Journalists and so forth.
The Histadrut Labor Federation, which maintains close ties with workers' unions worldwide, could also assist. All these efforts will be costly and therefore the government should designate appropriate funds.
Substantially expanding scientific cooperation between Britain and Israel would be the best answer to the British academic boycott. The British government and leading British universities oppose the boycott.
Together with the Israeli government and Israeli universities they should allocate the required resources and prove in the coming years that the boycott decisions will lead to the opposite outcome - the strengthening of scientific cooperation between the two countries.