Mayor of London Boris Johnson told reporters in Tel Aviv on Monday that a boycott of Israel in Britain would be “completely crazy,” the UK Jewish News reported.
This comes mere weeks after 343 British academic professionals took out an advertisement in the Guardian calling for an academic boycott and divestment from Israel.
But, Johnson said, there was a misunderstanding in Israel about the scope of the boycott, which he said was only supported only by a “few lefty academics” in “corduroy jackets.”
“Not that there’s anything wrong with wearing a corduroy jacket, I hasten to say,” he quipped, but added that those left-wing academics have “no real standing in the matter” and are highly unlikely to be influential in Britain.
Johnson questioned in front of reporters the logic of disregarding one of the Middle East’s only democracies.
“I cannot think of anything more foolish than to say that you want to have any kind of divestment or sanctions or, whatever, or boycott against a country that when all is said and done is the only democracy of the region. Is the only place that has in my view a pluralist, open society. Why boycott Israel?” Johnson told London-based Channel 4 news.
Among those who signed the ad in the Guardian earlier this month were academics from Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics. Additionally, some non-academic activists — like Roger Waters of Pink Floyd-fame — have used celebrity status to promote an Israel boycott over claims of human rights abuses against the Palestinians.
But, certainly the boycott did not figure in Johnson’s agenda of deepening trade ties between his city and Tel Aviv, where he was set to address an audience of 300 on just that issue.
Meanwhile, Johnson and his Tel Aviv counterpart, Ron Huldai, announced a major festival celebrating the White City in London in 2016.
Watch a video of Johnson’s comments below: