Followers of AntiSemitismWatch will be familiar with reading about the consequences of those activists on campus who are driving anti-Semitism through their support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and its associated acolytes like Israeli Apartheid Week. In a new low, the student union at University College London pushed through a motion last week endorsing BDS, with little support from the student body.
Ariel Tamman, co-president of the Friends of Israel Society at UCL, claimed he had only become aware of the motion a few hours before it was debated, saying it had only been mentioned on the union’s website and no effort been made to flag it more prominently.
Tamman explained that anti-Israel activity had become more “invasive” at the campus and claimed the latest move would leave supporters of Israel on campus not only feeling “intimidated”, but that, “It may lead to less Jewish students coming to UCL,” he told the Jewish News.
A proposal to consider the motion in a larger student forum was rejected, as was an amendment to strike out a boycott from the motion. Tamman said it appeared many officers “had already made up their minds”. He also confirmed he will be writing to the university authorities over both the motion’s impact and the way the process was conducted.
The motion, which passed by 14 votes to four, called for UCL’s students’ union, UCLU, to ‘work with students to publish a report on academic, corporate and economic links between the university and companies or institutions that participate in or are complicit in Israeli violations of international law’. What’s more, UCLU will stop stocking or advertising Israeli products.
When a former president of the UCL Jewish Society, Elliot Miller, said the Palestine Society of UCL, “Intimidates Jews all day then celebrates BDS”, one member replied: “If our existence intimidates Zionists on campus then that’s their problem.”
One Jewish UCL student, spoken to by spiked-online.com, said he was angered by the union’s actions. ‘I don’t care what the agenda is’, Issac said. ‘You can’t force-feed 30,000 [students] a political stance that is so contested – it’s undemocratic and unfair.’
It seems that, due to its underhand methods, UCLU has shot itself in the foot since a petition has now been launched in the wake of the vote, calling for the motion to be debated by the wider student body at a general assembly. ‘We need this to happen because [the union] needs to let people have their say’, Isaac says. ‘The fact that the UCLU Debating Society opposed the motion the night before just shows that the student body is not in parallel with what the union believes. The union has been very crafty about it.’
University College London, which is independent from UCLU, confirmed, “UCL is opposed to any policy of boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel.”