The Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected a motion to promote the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
A motion “in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and its hindrance of attempts to create a Palestinian state” was defeated 69-10. Magdalen College, one of the constituent colleges of Oxford University, had already voted 39-3 against the motion.
The vote came amid increased tensions on campus in Britain. Anti-Israel MP (Member of Parliament) George Galloway set off a firestorm when he walked out on a debate with an Israeli student at Brasenose College, Eylon Aslan-Levy, after he found out of Aslan-Levy’s nationality. Galloway had posted on Facebook that he refused to debate Aslan-Levy because he was “a supporter of the apartheid state of Israel,” according to the Independent.
“Tonight Oxford students showed that their commitment to intellectual freedom is unshakeable,” Aslan-Levy said Wednesday after the BDS motion was defeated, according to The Jewish Press. “In rejecting calls for a boycott against Israel by a seven-to-one margin, we demonstrated resoundingly that we want Oxford to continue to cooperate with Israeli academics, trade with Israeli businesses and—yes—debate with Israelis in debating societies.”
After Magdalen College rejected the motion, student Henry Watson told The Guardian, “The boycott goes against everything the university stands for. The idea that we are not going to read your books or articles or hear your arguments on the basis of your nationality is ridiculous.”