Oxford University, which is ranked as one of the top five universities on the planet, has categorically rejected two motions supported by the BDS Movement. A motion that called upon Oxford students to boycott Israeli institutions and products was defeated, 69-10, with 15 abstentions. Another motion calling for students to partake in the BDS movement was similarly defeated. As a result, neither motion will proceed from the Oxford University Student Union to be placed before the National Union of British Students Conference.
This boycott vote follows British lawmaker George Galloway, a Hamas supporter who has organized flotillas to Gaza, storming out of a debate at Oxford University merely because his debate opponent was Israeli. Before storming out, Galloway had declared, “I don’t recognize Israel and I don’t debate with Israelis.” His behavior caused quite a storm with many audience members calling him a racist. Following this event, Galloway wrote on his facebook, “The Reason is simple: No recognition, No Normalization, Just Boycotts, divestment and sanctions, until the Apartheid state is defeated.”
21-year-old Eylon Aslan-Levy was appalled that a member of the British Parliament would refuse to debate him just because of his country of origin. He declared, “To refuse to talk to someone just because of their nationality is pure racism, and totally unacceptable for a member of parliament.” However, Oxford University’s Student Union voting against the BDS movement demonstrated that most students at Oxford University don’t agree with George Galloway and his ideological supporters.
Following the boycott vote, Aslan-Levy proclaimed, “Tonight Oxford students showed that their commitment to intellectual freedom is unshakeable. In rejecting calls for a boycott against Israel by a seven-to-one margin, we demonstrated resoundingly that we want Oxford to continue to cooperate with Israeli academics, trade with Israeli businesses and – yes – debate with Israelis in debating societies. I hope that other British universities will follow Oxford’s lead in standing up against divisive attempts to hinder academic cooperation and progress.”
Similarly, Henry Watson, a student at Oxford University, asserted, “This boycott goes against everything the university stands for. The idea that we are not going to read your books or articles or hear your arguments on the basis of your nationality is ridiculous.” The Union of Jewish Students issued a statement following the BDS vote stating that the results “sent a clear message that neither students nor any one else will be marginalized at Oxford based on their nationality.”
Judith Flacks, the Union of Jewish Students Campaign Director, proclaimed, “It’s encouraging to see that this vote reflects a student body which is willing to discuss the complexities that exist within Israel and do not see boycotting it as a viable option or avenue to discuss the conflict.” Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai also responded to the rejection of the BDS vote at Oxford University by stating, “We welcome the decision of the Student Union, a decision that had it been accepted would certainly have stained both the institution and the students. I hope that other countries, organizations and institutions understand that waving the flag of progress in one hand and waving the flag of boycotts in the other means waving of two flags that cannot exist side by side.” Thus, by voting against BDS, Oxford University students, among the brightest in the world, have rejected the idea that Israel should be ostracized until the demands of the BDS movement are met.
Please write Oxford University’s Student Union to say thank you!
Contact: David Townsend
Dear David Townsend,
I would like to thank you, president of the Oxford University Student Union, for the Union’s rejection of the idea of boycotting Israel. By making such a decision, Oxford University students demonstrated once again how wonderful and intelligent they are. Any one who cares about promoting peace in the Middle East should support academic exchanges between Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Jews. It is only through such interactions that people to people bonds are formed which foment the foundations of peace. Boycotting Israel merely encourages a continuation of conflict and hatred, and does nothing to promote coexistence and mutual understanding between peoples. I hope that other universities learn from the intellectual depth possessed by the overwhelming majority of Oxford University students and reject similar motions.
All the best,