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December 11, 2016 8:46 am

Jewish Students at U of Manchester Left ‘Angry, Fearful’ in Wake of Successful BDS Campaign That ‘Sprang Out of Nowhere’

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avatar by Lea Speyer

University of Manchester campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

University of Manchester campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Jewish students at the University of Manchester in Britain have been left angry and fearful after a sudden campaign, which “sprang out of nowhere,” led to the swift passage of a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions motion on Thursday, a pro-Israel campus activist told The Algemeiner.  

Lawrence Rosenberg — director of campus operations for Israel advocacy group the Pinsker Center and former Manchester Jewish Society president — said the adoption by the school’s Student Union (SU) of the BDS resolution, which received 60 percent of the vote, amounts to a “complete rejection of the concerns of Jewish and Zionist students, who quite literally had begged for open dialogue, and explained how deeply they would fear for their safety if the motion were to pass.”

Rosenberg bemoaned, too, that the way the whole thing was orchestrated left Jewish and pro-Israel students little time to organize in opposition to the effort. The promoters of the motion, in contrast, he said, “had six months to effectively lobby the Manchester Students Union Senate and advocate their cause around campus, whereas we learned about the motion only six days before it went to the senate.” 

He said that though he and other students tried to message senators in advance, “We weren’t supplied with details on how to do so, so it was mostly guesswork.” And when Rosenberg addressed the SU prior to the vote in the “hope that they would respond to the concerns of Jews and Zionists on campus,” he said, “my words fell on deaf ears.”

To make matters worse, he said, BDS activists “lied all over their campaign literature,” such as calling Sderot — an Israeli town that borders Gaza — “a settlement.”

In response to the passage of the BDS resolution, Britain’s largest Jewish student organization, the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), condemned the Manchester SU, saying the “divisive…campaign [has] left many Jewish students present in a state of distress.”

The passage of the BDS motion comes as Britain grapples with rising antisemitism and antisemitic anti-Zionism on its campuses. According to an October parliamentary report, British lawmakers found “unwitting antisemitism emerging in some student populations, and within left-leaning student political organizations [involved in anti-Israel activity] in particular.”

Watch Rosenberg address the Manchester SU prior to the BDS vote below:

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