The president of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies’ Jewish Society has warned an anti-Israel boycott will lead to a deterioration of relations between Israeli and Jewish students and other groups.
SOAS voted to boycott contacts with all Israeli academic institutions, including Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.
But J-Soc president Moselle Paz Solis described the ballot as ‘divisive’ and ‘discriminatory’.
And she plans to take Jewish students’ concerns to SOAS director Paul Webley.
She told the Jewish Telegraph: “He has a duty of care to foster good relations between different religious and ethnic groups. This referendum does the opposite.”
The ballot had been organised by the university’s Student Union on advice from the BDS movement as part of Israel Apartheid Week – and encompassed not only students, but also academics and non-teaching staff.
The ballot passed with a 75 per cent majority.
SOAS academic Professor Colin Shindler told the Jewish Telegraph that the BDS movement had “singularly failed to make any impact on the changing politics of the Jewish state despite its ongoing self-congratulation”.
He added: “While they may consider their campaign as ‘intellectually satisfying’, it is politically daft.”
A SOAS official explained that while the poll has been described as a referendum by the Students’ Union, SOAS itself had no involvement in it nor had they endorsed it.
And he said fewer than 30 per cent of the SOAS community had participated in the vote.
A spokesman for Fair Play Campaign – an organisation established to combat BDS and associated activity – said they were disappointed, but not surprised.
He said: “SOAS should be proud of its connection to a fine academic institution like Hebrew University and the opportunities this has afforded many SOAS students to enrich their understanding of the Middle East through study in Israel.
“We look now to the management of SOAS to guarantee that students of Hebrew at SOAS will still have the opportunity to study at the Hebrew University as a part of their courses.”
Board of Deputies vice-president Alex Brummer said: “The motion to cut ties with the Hebrew University is particularly regrettable as this is an institution with both Jewish and Arab students and one which works closely with Palestinian institutions, particularly al-Quds University.”
Source: Jewish Telegraph