Chile students vote to end ties with Israeli universities

Students at one of Latin America’s top-ranked universities have voted to back the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions by a large margin.

The student federation at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, elected from the institution’s 25,000-strong student body, passed the measure by 37-2 with 20 abstentions.

The motion, put forward by the Organization of Solidarity with Palestine, calls for the university to end two cooperation agreements with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Institute of Technology – Technion because of their complicity with Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights.

“After weeks of campaigning, awareness raising and debates it is with great joy and honor that we announce that the motion [supporting BDS] was approved,” the Organization of Solidarity with Palestine said. “We are very proud of having been the motor for such an important effort for Palestine and humanity at large.”

The student federation said its next step would be to urge the university’s higher council to act on the motion.

Earlier this month, Palestinian academics called on students and faculty at the Pontifical Catholic University to support efforts “to end the university’s institutional links with Israeli universities due to their deep involvement in Israel’s system of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.”

The South African Union of Students and the South African Student Congress (SASCO) also sent letters to their peers in Chile urging support for the measure.

“In 2011 the University of Johannesburg terminated its relations with Israel’s Ben Gurion University ushering in the first academic boycott of Israel on the international stage,” SASCO stated.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee welcomed the vote, noting that support for the academic boycott called for by Palestinian civil society has been growing across Latin America.

In May, students at the University of Chile law school backed BDS by a landslide in a referendum.

In Argentina and Brazil hundreds of professors and researchers and a dozen colleges have also pledged to boycott Israeli institutions.