On October 24, students at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom voted to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which seeks to pressure Israel into respecting international law and human rights. The press release below explains the significance of the vote.
A referendum at the University of Exeter to boycott illegal Israeli settlement products has passed in a landslide.
1,040 students voted in the referendum, the highest voter turnout in the history of the university’s political referenda, with 86% voting in favour. Overwhelming support for the referendum is especially significant given the historically conservative nature of the university. The result demonstrates the growing momentum behind the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, in the United Kingdom and internationally.
The decision follows the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for BDS campaigns against Israel, aimed at pressuring the Israeli government to respect international law and human rights. The action also aims to bring the University of Exeter in line with the National Union of Students and recent EU regulations relating to goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements. World-renowned historian and University of Exeter professor Ilan Pappé offered his praise for the campaign organizers. “I congratulate the group of students that ran the campaign,” he said. “This is just the beginning.”
A spike in BDS activity has occurred since earlier this year, when Israel launched its most recent attack on the Gaza Strip. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 2,189 Palestinians were killed during the 50-day assault, including 513 children.
Marcel Golten of Exeter Defend Education said, “This vote reflects both the hard work of those campaigning in support of this referendum and also the importance of this issue to the student body. Exeter Defend Education recognizes this as a concrete step towards a just peace in Palestine and Israel. We look forward to supporting future campaigns to this end’.
Francesco Amoruso, a member of the pro-boycott campaign, explained, “In light of a Peace Process that has failed for decades, we believe that BDS is civil society’s most effective means to encourage peace and equal rights for all. We call on all people of conscious to join us in these efforts.”
Members of the campaign are available for comment through the contact information listed above.