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Hebrew University to host conference on ‘widening’ BDS campaign

Hebrew University will host a conference at the end of the month on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, a reflection of growing concerns amongst Israel’s political, cultural and academic elites about the Palestinian-led boycott.

The one-day event, ‘BDS: Why Are They Boycotting Israel?’, is being hosted at the university’s Truman Institute on December 29, and will be conducted in Hebrew.

According to a promotional flyer, the conference is divided into two main sessions, with the first looking at “Who are the BDS, and why do they boycott Israel?”

Speakers during this first discussion include government official Amir Ofek, director of the Civil Society Affairs department at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as Nachman Shai, a Labor MK in the opposition Zionist Camp, on “the field of parliamentary action.”

Other panellists include former Shin Bet officer Ronny Shaked, now a university research fellow, Technion University’s Professor Zvi Ziegler, who heads up the inter-university committee for action against academic BDS, and the Reut Institute’s Talia Gorodess, speaking on “the de-legitimization challenge facing Israel” (a concept that her institute helped popularise).

The second session looks at “the Israeli challenge to BDS”, and includes contributions from journalist and anti-BDS polemicist Ben Dror Yemini (on “the industry of lies”), the Truman Institute’s Tal Shenhav, and Hebrew University’s Professor Emmanuel Farjoun – who is in favour of boycott.

The panel also features Dana Barnett, of the right-wing Israel Academia Monitor group, and Gerald Steinberg, an anti-BDS activist and head of campaign group NGO Monitor (who will discuss “foreign government funding” of NGOs and BDS).

According to the conference’s Facebook event, the aim of the gathering is to examine questions such as how to prevent the “widening” boycott, how the impact of BDS is felt – including specifically in academia – and how the boycott is justified by its supporters.

With thanks to Ofer Neiman for translation.

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