Universities U.K., an umbrella group representing 133 British universities, has come out against the decision by the country’s largest student union to boycott Israel a day earlier, saying that academic boycotts are “inimical” to academic freedom.
“The board of Universities U.K. is committed to the free exchange of ideas between universities and between academics, regardless of nationality or location,” the group said in a statement. “The board therefore firmly opposes academic boycotts on the basis that they are inimical to academic freedom, including the freedom of academics to collaborate with other academics.”
On Tuesday, the U.K.’s National Union of Students (NUS), which represents millions of students at universities across that country and is the largest British association of its kind, passed a resolution to affiliate with the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision “hypocritical” for singling out the Jewish state after NUS previously rejected a resolution condemning the Islamic State terror group.
“They boycott Israel but they refuse to boycott ISIS. That tells you everything you want to know about the BDS movement,” Netanyahu said.
The British government also criticized the NUS decision, with Deputy U.K. Ambassador to Israel Rob Dixon saying the country “firmly opposes calls to boycott Israel” and is “deeply committed to promoting the U.K.’s trade and business ties with Israel.”