343 university professors from the United Kingdom signed a letter supporting an Israel boycott, and the letter is due to appear as a full-page advertisement in the British Guardian Tuesday.
Simon Johnson, the Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, blasted the professors as being out of touch with academia – and supporting a crackdown on academic freedom.
“It is ironic that the signatories in tomorrow’s Guardian have ignored Universities UK, who earlier this year invested time and effort to oppose academic boycotts,” Johnson stated Monday night. “They have also ignored their colleagues from over 30 universities who have actively engaged, through BIRAX, in scientific cooperation with researchers in Israeli institutions – as well as the calls of the 150 writers, artists and musicians who last week promoted the benefits of continuing dialogue with Israel.”
“It seems that once again those who wish to improve the situation in the Middle East have looked for publicity rather than creating inclusive academic debate which will benefit society as a whole,” he added.”
“These academics should realize that boycotts are divisive and discriminatory and do nothing to advance peace or improve the lives of Palestinians. The double standards here are evident and cannot lead to any real progress on the issue.”
Calls for academic and cultural boycotts have become endemic in the UK, which has also seen spikes in pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic activity over the past year.
The Guardian appears to be a vehicle of choice for such letters; in February, 700 artists called for a cultural boycott of Israel in the popular paper.