UK students overturn twinning with Gaza U

Opponents note racism is tolerated, Holocaust denial on the curriculum at institution

By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
March 24, 2010 20:28
2 minute read.
Students at the Unversity of Warwick

Students Warwick U 311. (photo credit: .)

 
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LONDON – Students at a British university have successfully defeated a motion to twin with the Islamic University of Gaza.

The student union at the University of Warwick, in the county town of Warwickshire and close to Coventry, had called a referendum to vote last week on the twinning of the universities. The motion failed to pass with 1,155 voting against twinning with the Gaza institution, 878 voting for and 157 abstaining.

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Campaigners against the motion, which included both Jewish and non-Jewish students, maintained that the university is closely linked to Hamas and were opposed to the rhetoric contained in Hamas’s charter.

Opponents of the motion also noted that the Gaza institution is a place where racism is tolerated, Holocaust denial is taught as part of the curriculum and where a theater production portrayed Jews as pigs.

Smadar Bakovic, an Israeli student at Warwick involved in the campaign, said had the University of Warwick decided to twin with or to financially and ideologically back “a different racist organization,” the entire student body would have rightfully opposed it.

“Racism, hatred and discrimination would have been unequivocally and unanimously condemned and challenged and people would have camped out night after night, until the motion was reversed,” she said.

“Because this referendum involved Israel, however, it was somewhat harder to get the masses out to the streets to say no to racism, Holocaust denial, hatred and even the calling for genocide.”

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Bakovit said that against the odds and after an incredibly hard week of campaigning, the motion was defeated.

“People who voted against this motion looked beyond the actual act of twinning with a university and showing solidarity – they looked at which kind of a university we were in fact twinning with and what the character of that university was.

“Many of the people who voted against the twinning were extremely critical of Israel. They all realized, however, that supporting a Hamas-backed university had nothing to do with liking Israel – one did not have to love Israel to disapprove of Hamas and of its racism.

“The defeat of this referendum showed that sanity triumphed over naïveté and that people understood that whenever the university is confronted with racism, we must all oppose it, no matter who it calls to discriminate against or kill,” she said.

In December, the Student Union at the prestigious London School of Economics voted to twin with the Islamic University after a motion was put forward by the school’s Palestine Society that called “to twin this union with the Islamic University of Gaza to show solidarity with the students there, who have had their campus bombed and their colleagues killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces.”

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