Lebanese university student protests call for divestment from Israel-linked companies

Lebanese university student protests call for divestment from Israel-linked companies
Lebanese students called on their universities to divest from any companies linked to Israel, as well as provide financial transparency about their investments.
3 min read
03 May, 2024
The student protests in Lebanon were inspired in part by pro-Palestine demonstrations on university campuses in the US. [Getty]

Lebanese student protests called on their universities to provide financial transparency and divest from any Israeli-linked companies as part of pro-Palestine campus protests this week.

Hundreds of students demonstrated across university campuses in Lebanon on Tuesday, hoisting the Palestinian flag and chanting slogans in favour of an end to the Israeli occupation.

The protests were the largest manifestations of student support for Palestine in Lebanon since 7 October.

"Our hope as students present in the streets is to influence and pressure the states that support Israel. We can support the Palestinian resistance if we have specific goals in mind," Bassem Jouni, a 20-year-old Journalism major at the Lebanese University, told The New Arab.

The Student Uprising for Palestine at the American University of Beirut (AUB) released a statement outlining their demands, which included the "establishment of a single, democratic Palestinian state from the river to the sea."

Live Story

The group also asked that AUB provide transparency about its investments, an end to any investments and relationships with Israel-linked companies and specifically a boycott of the technology company HP. The statement explained that HP provides technology for Israel.

The demands echoed those of the pro-Palestine protests that started on Columbia's campus and have since spread to universities across the US and Europe. Student demonstrators in Lebanon said that they served as inspiration for their own protests that week.

"The protests we saw this week were done in solidarity with those in the EU and US; as Arabs, we have a duty to support them. These are the countries that support the occupation and claim to be the 'free world,' but the mask is slipping," Jouni said.

The usage of force against protesters on US university campuses in the US has been met with derision in the region. The US has historically issued its own statements urging security forces within Arab countries to de-escalate and allow peaceful protests and freedom of expression to take place.

Live Story

The role of demonstrators in Lebanon should be, among other things, to fill in the absence of the state in enforcing a boycott of Israel, Alain Alameddine, a member of the Lebanese political party "Citizens in a State" and Lebanon coordinator for the Palestinian "One Democratic State" initiative, said.

"If we had a state, which we don't, it should be enforcing the boycott, it shouldn't be a popular movement. Of course, in the absence of the state we should still play a role and all institutions should divest," Alameddine told TNA.

In Lebanon, communicating with Israelis is illegal as the two countries are in a state of war. In the past six months, the Lebanese security services have carried out a number of arrests of individuals it accused of spying for Israel.

There is no law against dealing with companies that also deal with Israel. Since 7 October, Lebanese have organised popular boycotts of countries on the "Boycott, Divestment, Sanction" list, such as Starbucks and McDonalds.

Further pro-Palestine protests on university campuses are planned on 7 May.