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February 19, 2017 8:58 am

Jewish Student Leader at UK University: Defeat of BDS Motion Due to Efforts of Broad Campus Coaltion

avatar by Lea Speyer

Photo: City, University of London.

Photo: City, University of London.

A student government motion to boycott Israel was tabled this week at a British university, due to the efforts of a broad campus coalition, the head of the school’s Jewish Society (JSoc) told The Algemeiner on Friday.

Michal Belovski, president of City, University of London JSoc was referring to what she called a large contingent of both Jewish and non-Jewish students who banded together to defeat the resolution, a version of which was passed in November and subsequently rejected by the school’s Board of Trustees.

Since then, according to Belovski, the motion was “reworded” in an attempt to enable it to be brought before the student union (CULSU) once again.

“But we were ready this second time around, with more Jews and allies willing to vote against it,” she said. “The proposer realized, as soon as we walked into the meeting, that not only would the motion not pass, but we would put up a good fight first – so she pulled it before it was debated or voted on.”

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The original proposal called on the CULSU to “raise awareness of Palestinian issues…of BDS around campus and commit resources”:

BDS is now a vibrant global movement…[that has] a major impact and is effectively challenging international support for Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism.

Israel is occupying and colonizing Palestine and discriminating against Palestinian citizens and denying Palestine refugees the right to return to their home.

The amended version, which was obtained by The Algemeiner, used more politically neutral language, stating, in part:

[BDS] is a tactic inspired from the South African anti-apartheid movement. A United Nations human rights investigator has likened Israeli’s occupation of Palestinian terrorize to apartheid South Africa and says should be “serious consideration” over bringing the occupation to the international court of justice [sic].

BDS is aimed at the Israeli state as a political entity and is responding to a call from Palestinian civil society, Palestinian citizens of Israel and the diaspora. It is a short term strategy to encourage Israel to respond to international calls and comply with international law.

According to Belovski, while many UK universities have passed BDS resolutions, the “lack of support for the motion at the second meeting showed me that the students at City welcome everyone and aren’t interested in divisive campaigns.”

The defeat of the City boycott motion came the same week that a similar proposal at Northern Ireland’s Ulster University — calling on the student union to divest from companies complicit in Israel’s “brutal military occupation of the Palestinian territories” — failed, while a proposal to implement new policies to combat antisemitism and memorialize the Holocaust passed.

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