Foreign Ministry: New Israeli task force will confront British academic
(Communicated by the Foreign Minister's Bureau)
In the wake of the decision by Britain's University and College Teachers
Union (UCU) to boycott Israeli academics, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and
Education Minister Yuli Tamir convened a large, multi-body forum to discuss
the boycott and how best to respond.
"We must fight the boycott on every level and with all the means at our
disposal. This is an act of hypocrisy and hatred that must not be allowed to
raise its head, even if it comes from marginal bodies," said Foreign
Minister Tzipi Livni at a meeting which took place Thursday evening (7
June). "We must convince everyone who shares the values of Israel and the
rest of the free world to join this struggle. Whoever supports a boycott of
this type should know that there will be a price to pay. We cannot afford
not to act; we have an obligation to prevent the spread of this process. Our
meeting today is the beginning of a well-designed, coordinated action."
The Minister of Education Yuli Tamir, emphasized the need to show the world
that the British boycott is not a legitimate vehicle for protest. "The use
of a boycott is inappropriate, and it is important that Israel states this
unequivocally," Tamir said. "Our goal is to convince the British public to
reject the boycott of Israel."
The meeting, called to discuss possible political and PR responses to the
British call for a boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education,
medical institutions and labor unions, was attended by political and
academic leaders. In addition to Ministers Livni and Tamir and other senior
officials of the Foreign and Education Ministries, the participants included
the Chairman of the Histadrut Labor Union; heads of the Israel-Britain
Parliamentary Friendship Society, the Israel Medical Association and the
International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom; and the presidents of Tel
Aviv University, the Technion, and the Interdisciplinary Center-Herzliya. In
addition, the Students Union, various colleges and other government
ministries were represented.
It was decided to form a task force composed of representatives from all the
bodies that took part in the meeting, to be headed by Mr. Raphael Barak,
Deputy Director General for Europe at the Foreign Ministry. Ministers Livni
and Tamir charged the task force with implementing concrete recommendations
for dealing with the situation, with an emphasis on the Internet, working
through such voluntary bodies in Britain as friendship societies, the
British Jewish community, churches, labor unions, etc. The task force will
report to the ministers regularly.