February witnessed important milestones in the growth of the BDS movement. At the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), students, staff and faculty overwhelmingly voted in a school-wide referendum in favour of boycotting Israeli academic institutions.
This victory reinforces the demands of the BDS call issued in 2005 by the great majority of Palestinian civil society entities. Over 2000 students, academics, non-academic staff, university administrators and workers took part in this SOAS vote, resulting in 73% support for the academic boycott of Israel. SOAS is one of the most diverse student bodies in the UK, and has a leading role and reputation in fighting for social justice in the UK and beyond.
Less than two weeks before the SOAS vote, over 700 artists pledged support for the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality, including Mike Leigh, Myriam Margolyes, Mike Hodges and Gillian Slovo. Artists vowed to answer the Palestinian call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel by pledging to refuse professional invitations in, funding from and institutional links with Israel and its institutions until it abides by international law and human rights. The pledge signatories are now close to 1,000.
A few months prior, the National Union of Students in the UK, representing millions of students, endorsed BDS. This, of course, follows the historic and unwavering support for Palestinian rights and BDS by the largest trade unions in the UK, Unite and Unison, representing millions of workers.
In the US this past month, students at Northwestern University, Stanford University, and UC Davis all passed divestment motions, despite well-funded attacks and outlandish bullying by the Israel lobby.
More so, last month, the respectable Chatham House poll of British public opinion showed that Britons feel more "unfavourable" to Israel than to any other country in the world, with the exception of North Korea. The BBC annual Globescan poll of international public opinion has consistently shown Israel competing with North Korea in popularity in most of the world, including in the UK, where a whopping 72% perceive Israel "mainly negatively."
The growth of the BDS movement, and particularly its academic and cultural components is undeniable. PACBI salutes all those who took a principled stance for justice in support of the Palestinian civil society call for BDS.
Posted on 08-03-2015