Britain should pursue partnerships with Israel in hi-tech and creative industries in open defiance of the boycott movement according to Culture Minister Ed Vaizey. Mr Vaizey, whose brief includes the culture and business departments, was speaking after returning from a fact-finding mission to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Palestinian territories.
Representatives of BBC Worldwide, Ogilvy, Samsung and Albion from the UK were taken to the hi-tech hub set up by British ambassador Matthew Gould and introduced to their Israeli counterparts. He said he was impressed by the work of software company NDS and Keshet Broadcasting, the originator of the show Homeland, which was adapted for US TV and is now being shown in the UK.
Mr Vaizey visited the recently opened Jerusalem Museum, Silicon Boulevard in Tel Aviv and held talks with Israeli Sports and Culture Minister Limor Livnat. He also made an agreement with Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon to establish an annual round of talks on the telecoms industry, with experts from both countries.
He said: "The BDS [boycott, sanctions and divestment] movement is a serious matter of concern to the Israelis. But it was important for me to emphasise that it does not have deep roots in the UK. Of the hundreds of universities in the UK, only a handful have taken this stance."
He said British and Israeli hi-tech companies often looked to Silicon Valley when there was the opportunity to find partnerships with each other much closer to home.
He said he would be using his influence to persuade hi-tech entrepreneurs in the UK to visit Tel Aviv. "There is no substitute for going over and seeing it. People need to get their hands dirty. This is a 'win-win' for both sides."
Mr Vaizey has always been an active champion of Israel and is a keen supporter of the Friends of Israel Educational Foundation.