London mayor Boris Johnson called boycotters of Israel “foolish” while visiting Tel Aviv on a trip designed to attract Israeli high-tech companies to his city, the Associated Press reported Monday.
The mayor of London has lashed out against boycotters of Israel as “lefty academics” who wield no real influence. …
Johnson said, “I cannot think of anything more foolish” than to boycott “a country that when all is said and done is the only democracy in the region, the only place that has in my view a pluralist open society.”
“Can you have innovation without democracy? I don’t think so,” Johnson said. He also noted that there were more Israeli companies listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2014 than that of any country other than England.
Johnson led a delegation of London businesses that were seeking to do business with Israel, as The Jerusalem Post reported.
In a meeting at Google Campus in Tel Aviv, British companies on the delegation mingled with Israeli start-ups.
James Layfield, who runs a shared workspace called Central Working, said he is seeking to expand to Tel Aviv. He also announced plans to bring 20 Israeli start-ups to London to work with the company, which bases its revenue on facilitating business connections.
Neil Small, the director of virtual reality architecture start-up Lucid, said he hopes to learn the Israeli market and explore local technology.
Johnson’s trip to Tel Aviv coincided with the announcement that London will hold a Tel Aviv-themed festival in 2017. The Jewish News reported more:
The Israeli Embassy’s cultural department, which is drawing up the plans, hope the Tel Aviv in London festival will highlight how the city has become a thriving and vibrant hub for the creative arts.
Johnson said: “I am pleased to see the Embassy of Israel’s ambitions to bring a festival of Israeli culture to London in the summer of 2017. I hope this festival will demonstrate the spirit and diversity of Tel Aviv and showcase both London and Tel Aviv as two tolerant and vibrant cities.”
Johnson is the latest notable British figure to express disapproval of the anti-Israel BDS movement.
Literary figures J.K. Rowling, Simon Schama, and Hillary Mantel were among more than 150 British artists to sign a letter last month declaring that “cultural boycotts singling out Israel are divisive and discriminatory and will not further peace.” A week later, while attending the Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles, Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren told an interviewer, “I completely agree with Hilary [Mantel] and J. K. Rowling, a cultural boycott is really a bad idea.” Earlier this week, Lord Robert Winston, a pioneer in the field of in-vitro fertilization, said that the BDS movement consisted of “mostly second-rate academics from minor universities who have never done anything.”
David Quarrey, Britain’s ambassador to Israel, spoke for his government last month when he said that the United Kingdom “firmly opposes” boycotts of Israel….As [Prime Minister] David Cameron has said, the UK government will never allow those who want to boycott Israel to shut down 60 years worth of vibrant exchange and partnership that does so much to make both our countries stronger.”
[Photo: Isaac Harari / Flash90 ]