National Union of Students executive committee votes to boycott Israeli goods

Reuters / Baz Ratner
The National Union of Students (NUS) has passed a motion to boycott Israeli goods in solidarity with the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to exert economic pressure on Israel over its actions in Palestinian territory.

The motion – an amendment of an original titled “Solidarity with Palestine” – was passed Tuesday with 19 votes in favor, 14 against and 1 abstention by the union’s elected national executive committee.

The motion was scheduled to be debated at the NUS annual conference in April, but was postponed due to a shortage of conference time.

The Solidarity with Palestine movement is designed to put economic pressure on Israel to change its policy and acknowledge its actions in Gaza.

During the summer of 2014, Israel’s Operation Protective Edge caused the death of more than 2,000 Palestinians.

Following the vote, the Union of Jewish Students accused the NUS NEC of “playing politics” and not connecting with students at universities to engage properly with the issue.

Once again, the NUS NEC have passed a policy supporting the boycott divestment sanctions (BDS) movement. This is the second time in under a year that this debate has been had. The motion passed with 19 votes for, 14 against and one abstention after a heated debate,” the Union of Jewish Students said in a statement.

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“Earlier this year, NUS conference rejected the call to debate BDS on conference floor this year, and yet NEC is still debating it. At what point will the NEC connect with students on campus, instead of playing at politics?

“[Jewish Societies] have been banned because they’re incompatible with BDS policies; Israeli individuals and academics have been blocked from delivering lectures on nothing to do with Israel or Palestine. Just look at Durban University of Technology, where they called for the expulsion of Jewish students, ‘especially those who do not support the Palestinian struggle,” the UJS said.

Those in support of the BDS movement want the public to believe they don’t target individuals. Their actions and language regularly prove themselves as toxic forces on our campus and in our society.”

However, in a reply on the BDS Movement website, the campaign stressed how important student support was.

Supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is one of the most important steps that student unions internationally can take to stand in solidarity with our struggle for freedom, justice and equality,” the BDS website said.

The group added that the level of support for BDS in the UK was “heartwarming.”

“This support for BDS is increasingly being matched with successful campaigns that have pressured universities to drop contracts with companies such as G4S and Veolia that participate in Israel’s crimes against Palestinians. We look forward to working with you to build even more successful and visible boycott campaigns in the months to come.”

The NUS recently voted against a motion to boycott Islamic State or anyone found to be supplying them with goods, travel or fighters.

The reason for refusing to pass the motion was that it could fuel Islamophobia and ultimately serve as a “justification of war,” the NUS said.