University of Manchester must follow students and endorse BDS

University of Manchester must follow students and endorse BDS
The University of Manchester must end ties to Israeli universities and companies complicit in the occupation and human rights abuses in Palestine, argues BDS activists Huda Ammori and Etisha Choudhury
4 min read
Support for BDS among UoM students and faculty is strong

On 8 December, the Senate of the University of Manchester Student Union, the largest student union in the United Kingdom, passed a motion in support of the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.

The motion won the support of 60 percent of the SU Senate, demonstrating the strong student support for the BDS movement at the University of Manchester. The motion was put forward by Huda Ammori (President of Recognise Refugee Rights Society), and was strongly supported by Etisha Choudhury, the President of Action Palestine, and the BDS Campaigns Committee.

Our campaign at Manchester aims to connect our university to this global movement for justice and equality, and calls on the university administration to end its ties with businesses and institutions that are particularly complicit in violations of Palestinian human rights.

In particular, the campaign demands that:

- The University of Manchester sells its £15 million ($19 million) of investments in companies linked to Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. These investments include a stake worth just under £1 million in Caterpillar, who manufacture the armoured bulldozers which have been used by Israel to destroy more than 25,000 Palestinian homes since 1967. These investments are a violation of the University’s own Ethical Investment Policy which seeks to eliminate investments in companies linked to violations of human rights.

- The University must end it ties to the Technion, the Israeli Institute of Technology, which has deep ties to the Israeli arms industry, especially Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Systems. The Technion remains the main research centre in Israel for developing weapons used by the Israeli military against the Palestinian population, and has developed, for example, components for the Merkava M4 Battle Tank and the D-9 Armoured Bulldozer. These weapons have been used to kill thousands of Palestinians and destroy tens of thousands of homes.

Students of the University of Manchester want to show that they stand for peace, justice and equality. We will continue until every Student Union and University endorses BDS.

The power of student activism should not be under-estimated, every win for BDS is one step closer to an end of the illegal occupation and war crimes committed by Israel. We listened to the call from the Palestinian Civil Society for the international community to boycott, divest and sanction Israel, and we will do everything in our power until every institution in the UK supports BDS. If our government won’t support Palestine, then we will make sure that the people do. Justice will win.

BDS has been embraced by thousands of organisations and institutions around the world, as well as by major public figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Angela Davis, Ken Loach, and Naomi Klein

To date BDS has been embraced by thousands of organisations and institutions around the world, as well as by major public figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Angela Davis, Ken Loach, and Naomi Klein.

The UoM BDS campaign is a movement for justice and equality and is rooted in an unequivocal opposition to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. Nationally and internationally many Jewish organisations and Jewish individuals have spoken out in support of the BDS movement, including UJS presidential candidate Eran Cohen. We will continue to keep our BDS campaign open to all individuals and we will work together to end oppression.

The Palestinian-led global BDS movement, which is modelled in part on the successful campaign against apartheid South Africa, is based on a simple argument: the Palestinian people are entitled to the same basic human rights as everyone else.

For decades Palestinian human rights have been violated by Israel’s brutal system of settler colonialism, apartheid, and occupation, a system which has only been possible with major international support. The BDS movement seeks to build a global popular response to the on-going injustice in Palestine in order to pressure Israel to comply with international law.

Even though our campaign is still in its initial stages, Thursday night’s vote confirms there is strong student support for BDS at Manchester, and since our campaign began three weeks ago, more than 15 academics and 250 students have signed a letter of support for our demands, including members of the Jewish community.

This level of mass support shows that students and academics from diverse backgrounds at this university stand in solidarity with Palestine and recognise the necessity of the BDS movement in order to end Israel’s system of settler colonialism, apartheid, and occupation and achieve justice for the Palestinian people.