SOAS marks Israeli ‘apartheid’

By Simon Friend, March 5, 2009

SOAS Union marked its support for the fifth annual Israeli Apartheid week (IAW) with two motions strongly critical of Israel.

The first, entitled “Make Apartheid History”, declared that “Zionism promotes racism and xenophobia through acts of parliament, supported by a set of racist laws.”

The motion resolved to affiliate the SOAS (London University School of Oriental and African Studies) union to the “Campaign for Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions”, carried out in the UK by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) and by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), based in Ramallah.

The second motion, “Solidarity with Gaza”, claimed that “the recent national student support movement has been one of the biggest in a generation, including over 25 student occupations and sit-ins,” which had been encouraged by “60 years of occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people backed by the Western states”.

There was “no equivalence between the two sides. We must base our position on solidarity with the people of Palestine.” The resolution resolved to send messages of solidarity to students in Gaza on behalf of the SOAS union.Yair Zivan, director of campaigns for the Union of Jewish Students, said: “This is exactly the kind of one-sided motion that has become normal at SOAS, an institution that has been known to invite Hizbollah spokespeople to give seminars. Until they accept that the Middle East is a conflict of two sides, they will continue to have nothing positive to contribute.”

IAW held events this week in over 40 cities worldwide. As part of the campaign, SOAS was host to a number of high profile anti-Israel speakers, such as the Jewish South African politician Ronnie Kasrils, and novelist Tariq Ali, in a talk entitled “From South Africa to Palestine — The Struggle Continues”.

    Last updated: 3:42pm, March 10 2009