Speaking out against boycotts of Israel, the Mayor of London underlined: “I cannot think of anything more foolish than to say you want to have any kind of divestment or sanctions or boycott against a country that, when all is said and done, is the only democracy in the region, is the only place that has, in my view, a pluralist open society”.
He added: “Why boycott Israel? And by the way I think there is some misunderstanding over here about it. The supporters of this so-called boycott are really a bunch of corduroy-jacketed academics. They are by and large lefty academics who have no real standing in the matter and I think are highly unlikely to be influential on Britain. This is a very, very small minority in our country who are calling for this”.
He said: “With access to a world class talent pool and a booming digital economy, it is no surprise that Israeli tech companies are making London their home and choosing the London Stock Exchange as their international market for expansion”.
London is currently home to 141 Israeli tech firms, out of a total 239 Israeli companies with an office in the UK, according to data collected by IVC.
CFI Honorary President Lord Polak said about the Mayor’s visit to Israel: “Boris being here right now as the Mayor of the City of London, in the political cabinet, one of the key people in Conservative Party [is vital]. He is being updated about is going on here, having a look around Israel at the time of the rise of Daesh”.
While in Tel Aviv, Mr Johnson has also met Mayor Ron Huldai. Following the meeting, Mr Johnson announced plans for a festival celebrating Tel Aviv in London in 2017. Mr 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”.
Israel boasts one of the world’s leading tech sectors, and London has become the first choice for Israeli tech businesses looking to list on the stock market, according to the research compiled by London & Partners, the Mayor’s promotional company and IVC Research Centre.
Technology companies make up over three quarters of all Israeli companies listed on the London Stock Exchange and, over the last five years, they have raised over £240m through those listings. There are currently 16 Israeli tech firms listed across the London Stock Exchange’s markets with a combined market value of £3.7bn.
Mayor Johnson today visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, stating: “It is an incredibly emotional experience…There are many moments in the tour when quite naturally you find yourself starting to weep; it’s a very, very powerful thing. But it is also a very powerful historical resource with the names of the victims and all the evidence… Never underestimate the ability of people to forget or distort the record for political ends”.
Mr Johnson signed Yad Vashem’s Guest Book with a note saying that “one must never forget the truth of what happened”.
During a public discussion with the Mayor, former Israeli President Shimon Peres announced that he is planning a major conference in London focused on future innovation. Leading academics and scientists from across the world will be invited to the event, to be held next April.
Mr Johnson will also be visiting Jerusalem and Ramallah on his trip and is expected to take part in a football training session with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and a group of young Jewish and Muslim footballers who are part of a programme supported by the British Embassy.