Top judge: Israel boycotts are 'absurd'

One of Britain's leading judges, Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger, has dismissed the idea of an academic boycott of Israel as absurd.

Speaking at the annual legal dinner of the British Friends of the Hebrew University in London last week, he recalled his visit to Jerusalem this year to deliver the Lionel Cohen lecture on behalf of the Friends.

"Boycotts, particularly in the academic world, seem to me not merely wrong in principle, given the academic world should be devoted to freedom of speech and freedom of movement," he said. "But like so many boycotts, it would harm precisely the people whom those supporting the boycott would most approve."

Talking to people at the Hebrew University had brought home "the absurdity of the notion of any boycott".

His visit had been "enjoyable, educational, thought-provoking, memory-inspiring, uplifting and humbling".

Lord Neuberger has longstanding links with the Hebrew University. He married his wife Angela on its campus in 1976 and his father, Professor Albert Neuberger, was a chairman of the British Friends.

He lavished praise on the legal aid clinics staffed by law students from the university which offer free advice to those who cannot afford it.

The clinics were "something which we really could do with in this country. We have a great deal to learn from Israel."

    Last updated: 3:02pm, November 18 2010