Oxford's first Israel chair

Oxford University, I hear, is on the verge of appointing its first Professor of Israeli Studies - worthy of note because there is only one other chair in the subject in Britain and its incumbent is retiring in autumn.

The Oxford chair is being named in memory of the philanthropist Stanley Lewis, who died in 2009, and has been made possible by a £3 million endowment from his family foundation.

An active Zionist who served on the board of two Israeli universities, Mr Lewis built up the fashion company Foschini and in 1970 acquired the Israel travel firm Peltours.

His son Michael chairs the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, the think-tank founded by Lord Weidenfeld.

The publishing peer, who has been championing the cause of Israel studies, called the creation of the Oxford post a "landmark decision", remarking that "nothing is more conducive to fighting the boycott".

    Last updated: 12:02pm, April 14 2011