European academic association cancels conference in Israel

A European association of mental health researchers has cancelled plans to hold its next conference in Israel over fears of a backlash from the international boycott movement.

This is the first time that an organisation of this kind has walked back on an already approved decision to hold a conference in Israel, indicating that the campaign to boycott Israeli academics may be gaining traction.

The European Network for Mental Health Service Evaluation (ENMESH), which has 400 members, had decided at its last biennial conference that its next gathering would take place in Jerusalem. The official announcement was made on the closing day of the three-day conference.

However, Mike Slade, a professor of mental health recovery and social inclusion at the University of Nottingham who serves as chairman of the executive committee, sent a letter to members of the ENMESH board notifying them of his unilateral decision not to hold the conference in Jerusalem.

He explained in his letter, according to sources with whom it was shared, that this was essentially an attempt at damage control since he had received complaints about the chosen venue from several board members and anticipated a further backlash. He noted in the letter that if the organisation went ahead with plans to hold its next conference in Israel, it could expect to spend the next two years embroiled in controversy and under pressure from the boycott campaign.

The cancellation has sparked outrage among some members of the association: Bernd Puschner, a professor of psychiatry at Ulm University in Germany who serves as secretary of the executive committee, resigned in protest. So has David Roe, a professor of psychology at the University of Haifa, the Israeli representative on the executive board.

The decision has also prompted a letter of protest from the Israel Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, which has many members active in ENMESH. In the letter, Sylvia Tessler-Lozowick, chair of the Jerusalem-based organisation, referred to the cancellation as “startling” and charged that it was motivated by considerations she termed ”irrelevant and dishonourable for a professional organisation.


Subscribe to EJC newsletter

Get EJC's bi-weekly newsletter, including the latest statements and news from the European Jewish communities, direct to your inbox.

European Jewish Congress will use the information you provide on this form to contact you. We will treat your information with respect and will not share it with others. By clicking Subscribe, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.


EJC expresses condemnation and concern after shooting which killed two outside Halle synagogue

EJC has expressed great concern and condemnation after two were killed in a shooting near a synagogue while the Jewish community was observing Yom Kippur in the eastern German city of Halle.

EJC President Moshe Kantor pays tribute to Serge Cwajgenbaum

EJC President Moshe Kantor pays tribute to Serge Cwajgenbaum z''l, who passed away on October 6th 2019.

Serge Cwajgenbaum z”l

EJC mourns the passing of our beloved founder and Secretary-General Serge Cwajgenbaum, z”l.

EJC welcomes first ever UN report on antisemitism, but says there is still much work to do

EJC has welcomed the publication of the first ever United Nations report on antisemitism. The report was published in conjunction with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion of Belief Ahmed Shaheed.