Today (04/08/14) the body that represents 95% of all students in higher and further education in the UK is holding a vote that will essentially endorse boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel (not just the ‘occupied territories’, even pre 1967 Israel).
There are so many reasons the NUS should not be boycotting Israel it’s impossible to list them all.
As the NUS is a representative of students throughout the UK the most fundamental point is how this boycott will affect the students it represents. By endorsing the BDS at this time the NUS will be endorsing the rallies that have taken place across the world. In Belgium Jews have been refused medical care, in France there have been numerous violent demonstrations despite the government banning pro Palestinian rallies. These demonstrations have been well documented and the NUS are jumping on the band wagon. The question is: what precedent does this set? Rallying on campus will achieve goals? We are going to turn campus’ nationwide into a place to drive political opinion, not a place conducive to study for the nation’s intellectual elite.
It will only promote division between pro Israel students and the much more numerous pro Arab students. It will lead to campus being a place where people are afraid to show support for Israel, thereby stifling freedom of expression.
Whilst the anti Israel brigade claims Judaism and Zionism are not the same we haven’t seen these words put into practice as anti semitism has without a doubt risen to eerie heights during operation protective edge. It’s also difficult to separate Judaism and Zionism because Judaism is essentially Zionist, the first, and arguably greatest Zionist being King David, prayers calling for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the in gathering of exiles to Zion said three times a day, only a few Jews don’t believe in Israel: left wing secular Jews who don’t connect with the land spiritually; along with ultra orthodox, mostly Satmars, who don’t believe the 3 oaths in the Talmud were already broken before 1948 by the pogroms, Spanish Inquisition and Shoah, along with all other atrocities committed against the Jewish people. Therefore, a small minority aside, it’s difficult for Jews not to be, at the very least, affiliated with Zionism, as a result of this we will be made to feel uncomfortable on campus knowing that Israel, the one place on earth we are safe from persecution, is vilified and demonised.
The motion does not recognise Israel’s duty to protect her citizens. It doesn’t mention Hamas using UN schools to store weapons, something which has been reported by the UN on three separate occasions. It doesn’t mention the tunnels which were to be a launch pad for the worst terror attack on Israel in history, planned for Rosh Hashanah this year, intelligence say it would have cost more than 2000 Israeli lives. Nor does it mention that Hamas trained fighters in paragliding to fly into Israel and commit terror attacks.
There is only an insignificant minority who don’t mourn the dead in Gaza. Israelis do not want this war, it is with a heavy heart every family has had at least one relative or friend who they say goodbye to, maybe for the last time, entering Gaza within the last month.
In 2005 Israel withdrew to the ’67 lines and removed every Jew in Gaza, some still live in temporary accommodation, so the Palestinians had freedom and a right to self determination. Israel was promised their neighbour would be the ‘Singapore of the Middle East’, this dream soon turned into a nightmare as Hamas took over. Article 7 of the Hamas charter clearly calls for not only the destruction of the Jewish state but death to all Jews. This is the neighbour Israel must live with.
Hamas are not just bad for Israel, they are bad for the Palestinians fore as long as they keep stockpiling weapons, launching rockets and digging tunnels under Israel, Israel will have no choice but to keep up the blockade, despite the economic cost it bears. This means the Palestinians cannot be free and prosperous under Hamas. Each tunnels cost around $3m to build, there are over 30 tunnels, meaning Hamas has chosen to invest over $90m in tunnels – Gaza is not a poor area, it is just rich in areas that provide no benefit for the people – the ultimate victims of Hamas.
Hamas receives over a quarter billion dollars a year from Qatar and weapons from Iran. If the NUS care about putting an end to the conflict, they would vote to boycott these nations, boycott the World Cup in 2022, and promote cooperation between pro Israel and pro Arab groups at grass roots level. Universities are not going to impact the actions of the Israeli government directly, however, if we had more unity and cooperation between pro Israel and pro Arab groups, we could lead by example and prove that there doesn’t need to be a conflict. Combined charity events, for example, would promote trust and communication between communities, the BDS will do nothing but raise suspicion and tension.
The other problem the NUS will face by endorsing the BDS is that boycotting Israel is not practical. 80% of the worlds computers contain processors made by Intel, a company which will have to be boycotted. Another computer giant, HP will also have to be boycotted. McDonald’s, students have a reputation for loving fast food but this giant, one of the first western companies to enter Russia towards the end of the Cold War will have to go. There are numerous other companies that will have to be axed. Universities rely heavily on computers and as a result Israel, do the NUS really want to go back to hand written books and ink smudged dissertations? Coca cola and sprite drinks will not be sold on campus, Evian and voltaic water won’t be available along with nestle products, kit kats, milkybar, quality street, smarties – life at universities will quickly turn bitter with a boycott of Israel.
Just as I publish this blog I’ve been told the motion has passed, NUS now endorse the boycotting, divestment and sanctions of the Jewish State.