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Israeli students in Belfast visit as teaching union's call for boycott criticised

By Anna Maguire

A teachers' union has been criticised for calling for an academic boycott of Israel as students from the Jewish state met local political representatives at Stormont yesterday.

Yedida Jacobs and Paz Ben-Nissan will also meet Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir at City Hall this morning.

The 17-year-olds are on a whistle-stop tour of the province organised by Northern Ireland Friends of Israel.

Steven Jaffe, the group's co-chairman, used the visit to highlight a call by the Republic's Teachers' Union of Ireland for an academic boycott of Israel.

The union called for a cessation of all cultural and academic collaboration between Israel and Ireland, including student exchanges.

Mr Jaffe said the call was a bid to ban any cultural exchanges between the two countries, irrespective of the politics of the individuals involved.

Yedida and Paz said they could not understand the move by the teaching union.

Asked about their impressions, Yedida said: "I was surprised to see how alive the conflict still is here – to see the graffiti. We have heard that there are Israeli and Palestinian flags here, which is strange.

"But it's been very inspiring to see that people here have a lot of hope for peace," she added.

Asked what their hopes are for their country, Yedida and Paz replied: "To have peace in the region."

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