Bill Rammell: UK government opposes boycott
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Yuli Tamir: continued cooperation
Photo: Yaron Brenner

British minister says academic boycott wrong

Bill Rammell, UK minister for higher education, says dialogue, not boycotting will promote peace

Bill Rammell, the British minister for higher education visited Israel Sunday to discuss the British University and College Union's (UCU) decision to call for a boycott of Israeli academia.


Like British premier, Tony Blair, Rammell said he was deeply troubled by the boycott call.


During a meeting with Education Minister Yuli Tamir at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem he said that this was a serious matter, and that imposing a boycott was not the right step. Instead, he said, the two sides should promote dialogue, the necessary element for peace. 


He added that the British government opposed to an academic boycott on scientists in Israeli academic institutes.


Last month, the UCU announced that it suggested boycotting Israeli members of academia and educational institutes due to the "Israeli occupation policy" in the West Bank and Gaza. 

Bill Rammell (center) with Yuli Tamir (right). (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


The decision provoked a strong protest in Israel, where critics of the boycott call said the UCU was acting out of ignorance.


Rammell stressed that the government honored academic freedom and was disturbed by several matters. He said that, as a friend of Israel and the Palestinians, he believed that both sides should be encouraged to promote peace.


He emphasized that the British academia supported Israeli and Palestinian academic activity in Britain.


According to Rammell, Britain wanted to attract Israeli students to its campuses; it wanted to collaborate. He said that the academia should promote such cooperation around the world.  


Tamir and Rammell discussed a series of joint academic activities, to prove de facto cooperation. "The British government's statements regarding academic cooperation with Israel de-legitimize the boycott, and the academic institutes will most probably continue to work with Israel," Tamir said.


"The State of Israel firmly objects to any steps involving boycotts to express a political standpoint and to create a reality that is inconsistent with academic freedom," she added. "I would like to thank the British government for its unequivocal stand on the boycott and we will work together to remove its threat and to develop cooperation between us."


פרסום ראשון: 06.10.07, 13:39
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