British lecturers meet to vote on Israeli academic boycott

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Lecturers have overturned a controversial boycott of two Israeli universities at a special council meeting in central London. The universities, Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities, were boycotted for alleged complicity with anti-Palestinian policies.

Around sixty Jewish students and supporters from the National Union of Students gathered outside the meeting to protest the boycott. The day passed peacefully with a large police and security presence.

The boycott, passed by the Association of University Teachers (AUT) in April, split academics, filled education news sections and caused debate around the world.

Speaking at a press conference after the vote, Dr David Hirsh of Goldsmiths College, London, said: "This has not been a victory for Ariel Sharon, the settlers or the [separation] wall. It has been a victory for the cultural, democratic spaces where Jewish and Palestinians study side by side rather than demonising each other."

He added: "There has got to be a mass movement for a just peace."