Trinity College Dublin, University of Barcelona set to divest from Israel

Trinity College Dublin, University of Barcelona set to divest from Israel
The two universities are among many globally that have seen student protests in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza following seven months of war.
3 min read
09 May, 2024
Students at Trinity College Dublin have agreed to end their protest following the agreement [Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

Two European universities have decided to divest from  Israel Gaza following student campus protests in solidarity with Gaza.

Trinity College Dublin agreed to withdraw its investments in some Israeli companies following protest action by students on Fellows' Square at the campus, which began on 3 May.

The action saw the University lose an estimated €350,000 following the closure of the campus and the subsequent denial of revenue from the Book of Kells, a 9th century Gospel manuscript that attracts tourists to the university.

In a press release Trinity said it will "complete a divestment from investments in Israeli companies that have activities in the occupied Palestinian Territory and appear on the UN blacklist in this regard". Trinity expects this will be completed by June.

Additionally, the Trinity will open up eight places of study free of tuition fees for Gazans - six postgraduate and two undergraduate - and set up a taskforce to address other issues brought about during the protest, including student exchanges with Israel.

Senior Dean Professor Eoin O'Sullivan who led the talks on behalf of Trinity said "We are glad this agreement has been reached and are committed to further constructive engagement on the issues raised. We thank the students for their engagement."

In a statement to student newspaper Trinity News, Trinity BDS Chair Isobel O'Duffy said that it is "great to see some concrete commitment from College to work on this," adding that the organisation would continue its work on campus.

Barcelona University cuts ties with Israel 'entirely'

The senate of the University of Barcelona has voted to end ties with Israel entirely, cutting institutional or academic relations with Israeli universities, research institutes and companies.

Alongside the breaking of ties, the senate motion, which passed with 59 votes in favour to 23 against and 37 abstentions, demands an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, while saying that the key cause of the conflict is Israeli occupation and apartheid. 

The resolution also calls on Spain and the Catalonia autonomous region to cut ties with Israel, and commits the university not carry out an act or omission that contributes to Israel's occupations of the Palestinian territories.

It further will see the creation of a commission to inquire about relations with entities that do not comply with international humanitarian law.

The motion is set to be submitted to the management team and the Governing Council for consideration.

Following the vote Joan Guardia, the Rector of the University of Barcelona, stated that "the University of Barcelona cannot remain indifferent to what is happening in Palestine," adding that "we will not be complicit in any violation of human rights."

University students and staff said they would continue their protest action through the week, including on 12 May during Catalan parliamentary elections, although the activists affirmed they would not interfere with the elections.

In January a similar motion was passed by the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, with other universities in Catalonia expected to consider move.

The progress in advancing BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) at the two universities comes amid worldwide protests by university students in solidarity with Gaza.

Students in the US have been forcibly evicted from Columbia University and University of California Los Angeles, among others. Across the US around 2,300 students at camps have been arrested.

Protests have also sprung up at universities in the UK, France, Australia, Lebanon and Jordan.

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The protests come as Israel continues with its indiscriminate war on Gaza. The Israeli military took over the Rafah border crossing earlier this week and stopped the entry of aid into the territory via Egypt.

Israel has killed 34,904 Palestinians since launching its war on Gaza, with a further 78,514 injured.