The National Union of Students in Britain, which represents about 600 student unions and associations across the UK, is supporting a boycott of Israel. The motion “Solidarity for Palestine” was voted in favor by the NUS national executive committee and received nineteen votes in favor and twelve against.
The resolution passed by the NUC committee explicitly states the NUS’ commitment to “affiliate to the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanction]” of Israel campaign.
Several MPs of the Conservative Party and the UK Independence Party have condemned the decision, and in a written statement to the British Education Minister said:
“As members of Parliament, we want to express our support for the Jewish people and the State of Israel. . . . While there is a legitimate debate about the settlements, both in Israel and worldwide, one must not confuse it with a campaign aiming to undermine the very legitimacy of the Israeli state to exist. We fully oppose the decision of the NUS and call them to remove it.”
The MPs insist that the BDS movement will fuel Anti-Semitism and sabotage efforts for peace.
The motion voted in favor by the NUS condemns Israeli military action that attacks the right to education in Gaza and seeks to “reaffirm NUS policy on boycotting companies which have been identified as being complicit in human rights abuses in Israel/Palestine”.
The Universities UK board, a university vice-chancellors board said in an announcement that it “firmly opposes academic boycotts on the basis that they are inimical to academic freedom, including the freedom of academics to collaborate with other academics.”
The board highlighted that Universities UK do not endorse the academic boycott of Israel despite a widely held such perception in Israel. The NUS boycott decision has been also condemned by the Union of Jewish Students.
The Jewish Student union stated in an announcement that the boycott topples interfaith relations and stifles any attempt to express progressive ideas on the issue.
The UJS also asserts that despite claims stating otherwise, the BDS movement does target individuals and robs them of their right to give lectures related to Israel-Palestine matters.
According to the World Jewish Congress, the NUS resolution is also making an attack toward the British government for being an accomplice in Israel’s military action in view of Britain’s supply of weaponry to Israel.
The NUS’ decision to support the BDS movement commands that the student union leadership organizes a nationwide day of student action that commemorates the UN Palestine Solidarity day on November 29.
Israel Europe Freedom Center, an NGO, instantly appealed to British MPs to counter the NUS decision upon learning of the development. At the same time, the Jewish Agency’s UK mission initiated rigorous public diplomacy efforts in Europe to offer Jewish and Israeli students the means and tools to offset the BDS movement, Israel Hayom reports in its newsletter.