The National Union of Students’ national executive committee (NUS NEC) have voted to adopt the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) policy.
Passed yesterday by 23 votes to 18, the motion will allow student unions throughout the UK to boycott Israeli products and services on campuses, including ‘Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions.’
The NUS’ decision-making body is composed of elected representatives and officers from throughout NUS, as well as 15 individually elected members. NUS represents 95% of the UK student body.
The move was categorically condemned by the Union of Jewish Students, UJS, who described BDS as “a movement whose tactics are inherently indiscriminate and whose boundaries are undefined.
“Whatever your politics on the conflict, when there is a strong campaign with ill-defined boundaries, there is no way to monitor the areas and people you will end up targeting,” said UJS in a statement.
“The passing of this motion is a failure of NUS to maintain its duty of care to the variety of student groups it must endeavour to represent.
“NUS NEC have passed a policy that will only divide student groups, undermine interfaith relations, and suffocate progressive voices for peace on both sides.”
The motion was passed as an amendment to a proposal to ‘condemn the collective punishment and killing in Gaza’. However the successfully passed amendment went further, adding a call for the British government to cease aid and funding to Israel, impose an arms embargo against Israel, and to demand a ceasefire. The amendment also called upon students to boycott companies ‘complicit in financing and aiding Israel’s military’.
The motion further called for ‘an internal audit of NUS services, products and departments to ensure they do not, as far as is practical, employ or work with companies identified as facilitating Israel’s military capacity, human rights abuses or illegal settlement activity, and actively work to cut ties with those that do’.
James Elliott, a member of the NUS National Executive Council, said, “During South African apartheid, NUS took the decision to stand in solidarity with oppressed South Africans, making Nelson Mandela our honorary Vice-President. I believe we have acted in the same spirit today by deciding to boycott companies that facilitate the Israeli military’s capacity to massacre Palestinians.”
- Read the UJS’ full statement on the move here