Nobel laureate stands up to boycott call

Weinberg skips conference, cites "anti-Israel...current in British opinion."

prof steven weinberg 298 (photo credit: Courtesy)
prof steven weinberg 298
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Boycotting Israel indicates a moral blindness for which it is hard to find any explanation other than anti-Semitism, Nobel laureate Prof. Steven Weinberg wrote in a letter explaining his reason for withdrawing from a July physics conference at London's Imperial College, the Guardian reported. Weinberg said he perceived "a widespread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic current in British opinion." Weinberg's announcement, which he said was triggered by a call from the National Union of Journalists to boycott Israeli products, comes a few days ahead of a planned vote on two separate motions for academic boycott by the University and College Union, the largest professional association for lecturers and researchers in British higher education.
  • Amnesty's moral blindness This was not the first time Weinberg has taken a strong stance against moves to boycott Israel. In 2005, the UK Association of University Teachers and Natfhe, two British lecturers' unions, passed a boycott motion, prompting Weinberg to cancel his participation in a conference at the University of Durham. The 2005 motion was later reversed following a storm of international protest. Last week, a delegation of senior Israeli academics concluded meetings with their British counterparts and with parliamentarians and journalists in an effort to persuade academics and members of the UCU to reject the boycott proposal. The Israelis' trip was organized by the Fair Play Campaign Group (FPCG,) part of the Board of Deputies of British Jews' campaign to combat initiatives to boycott Israel, together with the International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom (IAB,) set up by Bar-Ilan University in 2005 to respond to calls for boycotts of Israeli academics. Jonny Paul contributed to this report.