British universities invest in Israeli apartheid

Students in Leeds demand divestment. (PSC/Twitter)

British universities have invested more than an estimated half a billion dollars in companies that arm Israel or support Israeli settlement infrastructure.

This revelation comes from new research by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Activists on Wednesday held an “Apartheid off Campus” day of action at universities across the UK.

The same day, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign released a publicly accessible database listing 117 out of the UK’s 150 universities, and their $580 million worth of investments in complicit firms.

Freedom of information requests by PSC show that one institution, London’s Imperial College, has more than $15 million invested in military and high technology firms that supply Israel.

About $3.8 million of this is invested in Lockheed Martin, which makes warplanes Israel has used to bomb Palestinians and Lebanon countless times.

Another $3.5 million is invested in Cisco Systems, which supplies information technology and surveillance infrastructure to Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Syria’s Golan Heights.

The database highlights some ironies. University College London has a “Centre for Ethics and Law.”

This institution’s sponsor is BAE Systems, the world’s fourth-largest arms firm.

BAE Systems has extensively documented ties to the Israeli war industry, with its weapons repeatedly used on Palestinian civilians.

“It is shocking that UK universities fuel Israel’s human rights abuses by investing in such companies, despite the majority holding so-called ethical investment policies,” said Huda Ammori, campaigns officer for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

King’s College London has $3 million invested in complicit firms, including Microsoft.

Campaigners say Microsoft is a complicit firm due to its multi-million dollar investment in AnyVision, an Israeli facial recognition company with a camera network deployed “deep inside the West Bank” to surveil the Palestinian population.

In effect, AnyVision is conducting human experimentation on an occupied civilian population without their consent – an activity from which it then hopes to profit.

“As a Palestinian student, I am disgusted to find out that my institution has complicit links with Israeli apartheid,” Mohammed Ali, president of King’s College London Action Palestine, said.

Ali vowed that students across the country would continue to “demand our universities abide by their ethical policies, and remove all links with companies and institutions complicit in human rights abuses.”

The PSC database is the result of more than a year’s research.

Freedom of information requests were sent to all 150 UK universities, but many refused to hand over the figures, or gave partial disclosures.

The PSC figures are based partly on those disclosures, partly on Bloomberg International’s database of holdings of major investment funds and partly on estimates.

For those universities that refused to fully disclose their investments, PSC calculated an average “complicity percentage” based on known holdings of major investment funds, and those universities’ known levels of overall investment.

Of the 44 universities that disclosed investments in response to their freedom of information requests, and from the Bloomberg database, PSC established $166 million worth of investments.

Ammori told The Electronic Intifada that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign used the same methods as climate change campaigners use in calculating fossil fuel complicity.

Tags

Add new comment

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.