Prestigious London university’s student board passes Israel boycott motion

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — The board of the student union at the prestigious University College London passed a nonbinding motion endorsing the anti-Israel boycott movement.

Student union officers on Wednesday passed the motion supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, by a vote of 14-4, The Jewish News of London reported. There were three abstentions.

The measure said: “As students, we have a responsibility towards ensuring that the Palestinians receive and maintain the human rights they are entitled to. We can do this by actively supporting the BDS movement.”

University College, which was No. 7 in the latest QS rankings of the world’s universities, had not put out a statement in response to the vote.

Prior to the voting, the Friends of Palestine society had organized a series of anti-Israel displays, dubbed the “Palestine Experience,” that included setting up checkpoints at the university that were manned by students dressed as Israeli soldiers.

In a tweet, a representative of the group called the passage “a tremendous victory for BDS at our campus.”

Russell Langer, campaigns director for the British Union of Jewish Students, told The Jewish Chronicle that the process through which the vote was taken was “completely undemocratic and unrepresentative.” Instead of the student union, he argued, the issue should have been put to an all-student referendum.

Langer noted the motion came a day after a BDS debate at the university featuring Israel’s ambassador to Britain, Eitan Naeh, arguing against boycotting Israel. In a mock vote afterward, 27 students voted to oppose BDS and 24 voted for it. There were 13 abstentions.

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