Students at top London university vote for Israel boycott

By Sandy Rashty, March 9, 2016
UCL

UCL

University College London students have voted to endorse the anti-Israel boycott movement as “official policy”.

UCL student union officers passed the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) motion by 14 votes against four. There were three abstentions.

The motion was voted through after the Friends of Palestine (FOP) society organised a series of anti-Israel displays, dubbed the “Palestine Experience”. The displays included setting up checkpoints at the university that were manned by students dressed as IDF soldiers.

In a tweet, a UCLU FOP representative wrote: “BDS is now official policy in the UCL Union!

“This is a tremendous victory for BDS at our campus.

“Well done to our BDS team for the motion.”

Russell Langer, campaigns director for UJS said: “The decision of the UCL Union Council to pass a BDS motion is extremely disappointing. This motion was voted on by only 21 people, a process that is completely undemocratic and unrepresentative. BDS is too divisive an issue to be decided by such a small and unrepresentative body, and a decision like this should have been put to an all-student vote.

"It is absurd that UCL J-Soc and UCL Friends of Israel society whose members passionately oppose BDS were not consulted. This meant that no opposition to the motion could be raised, with the Friends of Israel society only being made aware of the motion hours before the vote.

"This decision comes only a day after a BDS debate at UCL where 27 students voted to oppose BDS with 13 abstentions, to 24 voting for BDS. This not only demonstrates the willingness of the wider UCL student body to reject BDS but serves to show the unrepresentative nature of the Union Council decision.”

The university released a statement opposing the union's BDS policy on Thursday. UCL President & Provost Michael Arthur said: “UCL wishes to distance itself from the decision by UCLU Council to pass a motion in support of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel at UCLU.

“UCLU is independent of UCL, and we will make it clear to UCLU Council and its Trustees that UCL is opposed to BDS. We will be making them aware of our concerns and asking them to reconsider their decision.”

Last updated: 12:35pm, March 14 2016