Largest student union in Europe joins Palestinian-led boycott call

Exciting news today from the BDS Movement website:

The University of London Union (ULU)  has voted 10-1 to institute and campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in support of Palestine. The motion called for “thorough research into ULU investments and contracts” with companies guilty of “violating Palestinian human rights” as set out by the Palestinian Boycott National Committee (BNC). 

Ashok Kumar, Senate member for LSE, speaking in favour of the motion, argued, “We have precedents for boycotting campaigns at ULU, especially with South Africa and the boycott campaign over  Barclays bank, that supported the Apartheid regime. We are now responding to the Palestinian call for civil action in support of their fight against racism.”

The motion also called on other students’ unions to join in the campaign for Palestinian human rights. ULU is the largest students’ union in Europe with over 120,000 members from colleges across London. ULU senate consists of the presidents of the 20 students unions reprsenting every University of London University.  James Haywood, President-elect at Goldsmiths Students’ Union, stated, “We are delighted that this motion has passed, and with such a clear vote as well. We have seen throughout history that boycotts are a crucial nonviolent tactic in achieving freedom, and target institutions, not individuals.”

Stated in the overwhelmingly passed motion in support of BDS, the ULU not only affirmed its intention to boycott Israeli products, companies and institutions “that profit from or are implicated in, the violation of Palestinian rights,” but resolved to promote student union resolutions “condemning Israeli violations of international law and human rights and endorsing BDS in any form.”

The ULU also agreed to engage in public education campaigns highlighting Israel’s policies of discrimination and apartheid. 

This news comes on the heels of several milestone events in the global Palestinian-led BDS movement on college campuses, including the decision to support and engage in cultural and academic boycott and divestment at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in South Africa — where academic ties were severed between UJ and Ben Gurion University in southern Israel; the efforts of students at Canadian universities to sustain pressure on administrations to divest from Israeli companies; and Dr. Cornel West’s public endorsement of the BDS movement and student rights to ethnic studies programs at the University of Arizona.  

Meanwhile, as Maureen noted earlier this week, students at DePaul University in Chicago are “posing the question of whether the school should boycott Sabra [hummus products] through a student government referendum.” 

Whatever the action, big or small, BDS initiatives on campuses across the globe are continuing to gain supporters and victories. 




I'm reading Omar Barghout's excellent book on Bds, can wholeheartedly recommend it.

Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).