(photo credit: AP [file])
A forum entitled "Why we must boycott apartheid Israel" was held at the University of London's student union to tie in with the trial at Uxbridge Magistrate's Court of seven activists accused of blockading the UK offices of Agrexco, an Israeli agricultural export company, in 2004.
Dr. Ghada Karmi, a Palestinian writer and academic living in London, told the audience of about 60 people that a boycott and sanctions against Israel must focus on attacking support for Israel.
"Israel must be a pariah until they learn to be civilized," she said at the forum, which was hosted last week by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, a pro-Palestinian non-governmental organization.
Introduced as an expert witness at the trial, Dr. Uri Davis, academic and author of the book Israel: An Apartheid State, called for a boycott.
"We must boycott and disinvest in Israel until the rogue government submits to the values of human rights, international law and UN Resolutions 181 and 194," he said.
Questions have been asked by community leaders as to why such a controversial subject was allowed to go ahead on a university campus.
In January 2005 British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks unveiled a plaque at the University of London Union celebrating the "values of mutual respect and recognition exemplified by ULU."
Samuel Thomas, vice-president of the student union, said, "Like many academic institutions, ULU hires rooms to a wide variety of organizations. The views of these groups do not necessarily reflect ULU policy. However, our commitment to free speech and debate means that we are prepared to encourage a diversity of views.
"We will only refuse room hire if there is strong, conclusive evidence that a group is likely to incite hatred or to disrupt public order," he added.
Mitch Simmons, campaigns director of the Union of Jewish Students, said, "While it's nothing new to see them on campuses, it is positive to see their numbers don't seem to be increasing. Their talks are constantly attended by Jewish students willing to challenge the vile rhetoric of these people," he added.