British Society for Middle Eastern Studies distances itself from BDS vote
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British Society for Middle Eastern Studies distances itself from BDS vote

The nonbinding resolution claimed Israeli universities played a key role in the country's 'illegal military occupation', as the u-turn is welcomed by Jewish leaders

A Palestinian walks in front of the Dome of the Rock ahead of the prayers in Jerusalem, Friday, Dec. 8, 2017.  (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
A Palestinian walks in front of the Dome of the Rock ahead of the prayers in Jerusalem, Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies has distanced itself from an historic vote passed by members calling for an academic boycott of Israeli universities.

The group, which promotes study of the Middle East in the UK, said it did not “endorse” the indicative vote passed by a majority of members who attended its annual general meeting in Leeds on Monday.

The vote, which attracted media coverage in Middle East Eye and other publications, claimed Israeli universities played a key role in the country’s”illegal military occupation”, including developing weapons and rewarding students serving in the IDF.

But the society said in a statement yesterday that its position remains unchanged since it pledged in 2015 to remain “non-political” and oppose all measures restricting academic activity and cooperation within the Middle East.

Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman said she “welcomed” the statement, adding: “At a time of deep division and conflict in the Middle East, we should be building bridges and finding ways to bring societies together. Stifling academic freedom does nothing other than entrench the conflict and drive all sides apart.”

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