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May 28, 2015 12:20 pm

President Rivlin Warns BDS Movement is ‘Strategic Threat’ to Israeli Academia

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin offered to be a “soldier” in combating what he warned is the rising trend toward the academic boycott of Israeli institutions.

Speaking from the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem on Thursday, Rivlin told the heads of Israeli universities and colleges that “I am a soldier in your army” in the fight against BDS efforts.

The Israeli president said he had expressed to several world leaders his concerns about “the way the civilized world is talking about academic freedom while infusing academia with politics.”

He said he never imagined a threat like the BDS movement to Israeli academia.

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“The atmosphere in the world is changing and a situation has been created in which we can’t not raise the issue as a very serious strategic threat,” said Rivlin.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Israeli university president’s committee and Haifa Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie told Rivlin that BDS activism has moved from the periphery of campus life to the forefront, and called for “strategic action.”

Hebrew University President Prof. Menachem Ben Sasson said most boycotts of Israeli academia were still quiet, with professors increasingly declining to come to Israel for academic conferences, for example.

Rivlin vowed to bring up the issue with diplomats in Israel and abroad, according to Israeli news portal Arutz Sheva.

“The struggle against academic boycott is a strategic issue and I will make sure to raise it at every relevant forum on the international relations level and other institutions,” said Rivlin.

“When I see the global concern against phenomena such as antisemitism I make it clear that antisemitism destroys the society in which it functions and no doubt there are aspects of this phenomenon in this issue as well.”

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