The JC today identifies the key players in the escalating British campaign to boycott Israel. Our investigation shows that many are Jewish or Israeli, and that they justify their stance as part of the struggle for Palestinian rights and ending Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.A high proportion are deeply involved in UCU, the University and College Union, which last month sparked an international outcry by voting to facilitate a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.Anti-boycott figures suggest that the campaign has been fuelled by a well-organised mix of far-left activists and Islamic organisations. In reality, the main proponents are a loosely knit collection of academics and trade unionists linked to groups such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for the Boycotting of Israeli Goods, and Bricup, the British Committee for Universities of Palestine.Israeli Haim Bresheeth, professor of media and culture at the University of East London, seconded the UCU motion, which called for consideration of the morality of ties with Israeli academia and for discussions on boycotting...Prof Bresheeth told the JC that a boycott was not an easy decision. "I am Jewish and an Israeli, and I don't wish harm on either side. But how long can this occupation go on?..."Bricup has a large number of Jewish supporters, among them husband and wife Hilary and Steven Rose. Hilary, a professor of social policy at Bradford University, is Bricup's co-convenor alongside Prof Jonathan Rosenhead. Her husband, an Open University biology professor, is the organisation's secretary. They have been active in the boycott movement since 2002.
In an online article, Steven Rose wrote: "It really isn't good enough to attack the messenger as antisemitic or a self-hating Jew rather than deal with the message that Israel's conduct is unacceptable."Prof Rosenhead, of the London School of Economics, hails from a "solid Zionist and Jewish background". Bricup, he said, had been involved in the discussions about the writing of the UCU motion. "The reaction from the community was what you would expect, but we are looking forward to the debate. It was a triumph that Israel came into existence but not this Israel."
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