King’s students will vote on a controversial anti-Israel BDS motion at their Student General Meeting next Tuesday

The anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions movement has yet again reared its head at KCL.

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The motion, which has resurfaced after it was first proposed 3 months ago, calls KCLSU to “pressure King’s College to divest from Israel” and to “raise awareness of Israel’s illegal occupation”.

The news comes after a backlash to the proposal in which students have slammed the boycott as “poisonous and divisive”.

In response to the BDS movement, pro-Israel students have formed the KCL Israel Society, a group that has vowed “not rest until the motion is defeated”.

The Society’s president, Sami Steinbock, told The Tab:

“The Israel society was founded in order to improve the framework at KCL for an open and two-sided debate on Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The society aims to provide a more rounded education to students who are eager to learn more about the situation in order to challenge the continued delegitimisation of Israel”.

And King’s students can have their say on the controversial motion at their Student General Meeting next Tuesday.

The motion, which was due to be debated last term but was withdrawn after the threat of legal action, has since reappeared after the KCLSU Trustee Board has given the green-light for it to debated at the upcoming Student General Meeting.

The proposal calls for KCLSU to “pressure King’s College London to divest from Israel”, to “promote resolutions condemning Israeli violations of international law” and to “affiliate KCL to the Palestine BDS National Committee”

The supporters also seek “a plaque in all KCLSU student centres acknowledging that KCLSU formally supported the BDS call”.

Sami Steinbock said in a letter to KCLSU Trustees:

“We are greatly disturbed by the thought that our university, which is dedicated to the pursuit of truth and knowledge, could be called on to ban cooperation with the universities and cultural groups of any other country. We regard this as an outrageous assault on intellectual and academic freedom”

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Particularly, students have spoken against clause 5 of the motion which sets out that KCL ‘affiliate’ itself to the Palestine BDS National Committee, a coalition that includes the ‘Council of National and Islamic Forces of Palestine’ – a group that has been accused of facilitating terrorism.

On behalf of the KCL Israeli Society, London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore asked Boris Johnson what are the consequences of “the growing trend for student unions to pass anti-israel boycott motions?”

The Mayor replied, “London is a wonderfully diverse city and I am committed to tackling discrimination in London. Universities have clear legal obligations under the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 to prevent activities that could potentially discriminate against, harass or victimise others. Israel remains a vibrant, democratic economy and a great source of academic research and knowledge and I condemn any one-sided boycott”.

Boris Johnson

Jonathan Hunter, Galloway-baiter and Campus Director of StandWithUs UK, told The Tab:

“A motion to boycott Israel effectively tells Israeli students that they are not welcome at KCL. While not a student at King’s, I am distressed by the idea that any Student Union would even consider denying academic collaboration with another country. This is a slap in the face for all those who love freedom of expression.”

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Although the proposers have said that “BDS does not discriminate against individuals and Israeli students”, there have been a number of cases where Israeli students have been discriminated against by professors for their views.

But, many university chiefs have spoken against the BDS movement. In 2006, in regard to the AUT’s proposed boycott of Israel, King’s Principle Sir Richard Trainor said:

“University institutions such as King’s College London depend on freedom of speech and freedom of enquiry. As knowledge is worldwide, no restrictions should be placed on the location of the individuals or the institutions with which UK universities and their academics may wish to associate.’’

Yet King’s isn’t the only university to speak against the BDS movement. Most prominently, Larry Summers, past President of Harvard University, has described the BDS movement as ‘anti-Semitic in effect, if not intent.’ Likewise, the current President of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, has called the movement ‘grotesque and offensive.’

  • Defender of Liberty

    How ironic that the vote on BDS is taking place in the Edmond J. Safra Lecture Theatre. Edmond J. Safra was a Jewish philanthropist, originally from Lebanon, who donated extensively to Israeli causes, benefiting both Jews and Arabs.
    The BDS is the exact opposite: promoting misery for all the citizens of Israel – and destroying any chance of mutual recognition, and constructive engagement,

  • Blue Labour

    Why is BDS considered all the time? There are real problems on campus. Accomodation, fees, academic representation – and we spend ages trying to boycott another country, against all the principles our Uni stands for?!?! I agree with Boris on this!

  • The other side of the story…

    A more one-sided article could not have been written on the subject. Not once has the author interacted with the BDS movement on it’s own terms. For the most part BDS is not about delegitimising Israel but instead placing pressure on a country which is deemed to be breaching international law. The suggestion that the BDS represents an attack on Israeli people is dangerously homogenising, making the assumption all Israelis support the actions of the state of Israel. Finally the author’s approach to Palestinian people is utterly disgraceful. At no moment does he have the decency to use the term ‘Palestinian’ representing the hard end of imperialist zionism, but also brings out the classic ‘terrorist’ slur, making a disproportionate link to the weak accusations of the highly bias ‘anti defamatory’ website against a minor partner of the BDS movement. Rather than ‘terrorism’ the BDS represents the exact opposite, a set of peaceful sanctions aimed to pressure an Israeli government, which holds all the cards, to work for peace.

    • Stand Against Terror

      If you READ the article, the BDS includes a terrorist organisation – you can look up the Council of National and Islamic forces anywhere on the internet. Shame on you for supporting a group which facilitates attacks against civilians – that IS clearly against international law, regardless of the Israeli government’s actions.

    • Ryan Austin

      1) It would have been less one sided had the President of the KCL Action Palestine Society met me for an interview. This said, you seem like someone who would not be satisfied with any article on this topic unless it be unreservedly Pro-Palistine. Simply, on a topic like this I find it near impossible for anyone to be ‘on the fence’. Similarly, as a supporter of both freedom on campus and of Israel, I would rather my stance be known on this issue. This said, everything I said in this article I supported with references. If you don’t find those reliable enough for you (AKA exposing truths you would rather students not known about), then so be it
      2) I don’t know where you’re going with the ‘not using the word Palestine’ argument. I didn’t use it because no sentence required its use. This was for two reasons: a) I had not response from the KCL Action Palestine Society, and b) This article is not about Palestine nor even the Israel-Palistine conflict. It’s about university politics, BDS and freedom of expression.
      3) I’m sorry you don’t like the fact that BDS is associated with a group that is provenly associated with facilitating terrorism. And however ‘minor’ you believe this partner to be in the umbrella organisation, I would rather my university not even have a ‘minor’ association with terror.

      • The other side of the story…

        The BDS movement does not support terrorism. Nor does it work to delegitimise the State of Israel or attack the people of Israel. In fact represents the exact opposite offering a peaceful alternative to combatting the oppressive actions of the State of Israel. I completely agree our university should not condone terror, however nor should it invest in companies (G4S) which are committing human rights violations, or Nation’s which breach international law (illegal settlements). I am not willing to enter an endless internet argument so will not be posting again, but I challenge you to consider why some members of King’s University do support the BDS movement. And if you are willing to attempt to write an article the presents both side of the argument fairly, allowing the reader to decide for him or herself on this important issue.

        • jane habib

          You go along to ecostream in Brighton and see the BDS representatives spitting at the pro Israeli supporters calling them names that are unrepeatable and getting arrested for assault. A peaceful alternative. What planet are you on?

    • Harvela

      Not about delegitimising Israel ? That’s a good one . Suggest you check the label before making fatuous comments .
      Or maybe the PSC mantra ‘ From The River to the sea , Palestine will be Free’ + their logo depicting one state – Palestine ie no Israel is all a mistake .
      BDS denies Jewish right of self determination while demanding the same for the Palestinians .
      If that’s not racism , I m at a loss to know what is .

  • Friendlyposter

    Palestinians are partially responsible for the murder of 6 million European jews due to their representative, the Palestinian Jerusalem Grand Muffti who stayed in Berlin from 1941-1945 as a paid Nazi collaborator (he also gathered 40 000 muslim nazis to serve Hitler) promised to Hitler and Himmler that in exchange for arab “favors” and oil the Nazi’s need to kill as many jews possible. The Muffti also projected on creating a concentration camp in today’s Israel. Google FARHUD to see what the Muffti did to Iraqi jews, the same he intended to do for Palestinian jews and the “Jerusalem Grand mufti and Hitler”. The Muffti was also involved in the decision by the arab league that led to the confiscation of all jewish property in arab countries, the ethnic cleansing of arab jews whom today constitute 55% of the Israeli jewish population. By supporting the Palestinians and “forgetting” the ethnic cleansing against arab jews, the war of annihilation by arab armies against Israel, BDS is committing another crime against the jewish people. Supporting BDS is participating in racism and anti jewish prejudice.

    • OllieS

      I’ve seen Zionists sink to some depths, but a conspiracy theory that Palestinians are responsible for the Holocaust is a completely new level. This ‘theory’ is not included in any serious accounts of the Holocaust (even ones written by Zionists). The Mufti of Jerusalem had virtually no power, and his purely symbolic ‘alliance’ with the Nazis was because they were fighting the British empire – the same tactical position that virtually all peoples under British imperial domination adopted.

      Of course, ‘Friendlyposter’ appears pretty ignorant about Zionist history. Presumably they don’t know about how Zionists actively worked with the Nazis in the 1930s (ie Haavara Agreement, breaking the international Jewish boycott against the Nazi regime in 1933), believing that Hitler would help gets Jews out of Europe and into Israel, the Zionists’ fundamental goal. If we’re talking about the Holocaust, why not talk about how, Rudolf Katsner, a Hungarian Zionist activist, helped deport Jews to Auschwitz?

  • Tzanchan77

    So what’s next, mandating that Jewish students wear a yellow star to school? I would not put it past these people.