The meeting, which was attended by over 1000 students, was called in response to the crisis in Gaza. It follows a week long occupation of University of Manchester buildings by students . The University of Manchester Students Union is the biggest in Western Europe, and is also the first western students union to pass a motion includes an out and out boycott of Israel.
The policy that was passed compared Israel to apartheid South Africa and supported the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. It called for the Union to divest from Israel, boycotting all companies which support or benefit from the Israeli occupation, and to lobby the University to adopt a similar boycott policy towards Israel. The motion also condemned the University for its lack of progress in divesting from arms companies. Following the meeting the union will send a letter to the BBC condemning their refusal to air the Disaster Emergency Committees (DEC) appeal for Gaza , as well as facilitating a day of fundraising with proceeds going to the DEC.
That Students at Manchester have a long history of showing solidarity with Palestinians, most notably in their affirmation of the “Palestine: Right to an Education” motion passed in 2007. This motion twinned our Union with the An-Najah University in the occupied West Bank, and committed the Union to campaign for the rights of Palestinian students. Similarly, the Students” Union played an important role in the international solidarity campaign against South African apartheid by divesting the university”s funds from South Africa.
Over the three weeks following December 27th the Israeli army and airforce killed over 1,300 Palestinians, including over 400 children, and injured more than 4,000 in a series of brutal attacks on the besieged population of Gaza. During the onslaught into Gaza, Israel used white phosphorus illegally .
The events in Manchester are part of a wave of actions and occupations sweeping universities across the country .
Matt Scholey, a first year Politics and Modern History student, said “This is going to set a precedent, more and more student unions will have the confidence to take similar step. Last year LSE SU called for divestment, now UMSU calls for a complete boycott, and tomorrow the rest of the student movement will follow suite.”
2. For more information see:
http://manunioccupation.wordpress.com/about/ For the list of demands:
3. The DEC is an umbrella organisation for 13 British charities. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/22/gaza-charity-appeal
4. As reported by Amnesty International on the 19/01/2009, and The Times on the 24/01/2009