Matthew Gould cautions on UK campus extremism image

Matthew Gould with Dan Grabiner (Photo: Jeff Newman / British Embassy)

Matthew Gould with Dan Grabiner (Photo: Jeff Newman / British Embassy)

The British Ambassador to Israel has questioned the image of university campuses in this country being "hotbeds of anti-Israel sentiment".

Matthew Gould cautioned that such an image was false and emphasised the importance of not overstating the problem and putting off Israeli students from studying in the UK.

He made the comments following a discussion with members of the new UJS committee during their trip to Israel.

Mr Gould has previously called for more academic cooperation between Israel and the UK and launched the UK-Israel Life Sciences Council in January.

The ambassador praised UJS for its excellent work and said he was looking forward to working closely with them in the future.

He said he had been reassured by the team that "the experience of the vast majority of Israeli and Jewish students on British campuses is a hugely positive one". Mr Gould also noted that no British university had backed a boycott of Israel.

Daniel Grabiner, the UJS president, said he shared Mr Gould's view that the vast majority of Jews and Israelis had a "perfectly normal student life" on British campuses, although he acknowledged that problems did occur at times.

Mr Gould's comments come a week after the National Union of Students disappointed many Jewish students by opting not to repeal a stridently anti-Israel policy adopted in May.

Liam Burns, the new NUS president, had previously assured that the measures – including a pledge to send British students on future flotillas to Gaza and build links with the Hamas-backed Islamic University of Gaza - would be diluted or even overturned as soon as possible.

Last updated: 12:16pm, August 2 2011