Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor renowned for his staunch defence of Israel and high-profile legal victories, including his role in the O.J. Simpson trial, vowed to “devastate and bankrupt” lecturers who supported such boycotts.
This week’s annual conference of Britain’s biggest lecturers’ union, the University and College Union, backed a motion damning the “complicity of Israeli academia in the occupation [of Palestinian land]”.
It also obliged the union’s executive to encourage members to “consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions”.
Prof Dershowitz said he had started work on legal moves to fight any boycott.
He told the Times Higher Educational Supplement that these would include using a US law – banning discrimination on the basis of nationality – against UK universities with research ties to US colleges. US academics might also be urged to accept honorary posts at Israeli colleges in order to become boycott targets.
“I will obtain legislation dealing with this issue, imposing sanctions that will devastate and bankrupt those who seek to impose bankruptcy on Israeli academics,” he told the journal.
Sue Blackwell, a UCU activist and member of the British Committee for Universities of Palestine, said: “This is the typical response of the Israeli lobby which will do anything to avoid debating the real issue – the 40-year occupation of Palestine.” Jewish groups have attacked the UCU vote, which was opposed by Sally Hunt, its general secretary.