'Oxford motion on Israel boycott to be rejected'

University students' union scheduled to discuss motion which calls to boycott institutions, goods, produce against Jewish state.

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LONDON – A controversial motion calling for a blanket boycott of Israel by students at Oxford University is expected to be resoundingly rejected this week.
The Oxford University Students’ Union (OUSU) is scheduled to discuss the motion on Wednesday, which calls for the student union to boycott Israeli institutions, goods and produce. It also calls for the OUSU and National Union of Students to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, known as the BDS movement, against the Jewish state.
Currently there are only six votes in favor of the motion, around 64 against and 17 abstentions according to sources. Oxford University’s collegiate system is made up of 38 colleges and six private halls founded by various Christian denominations. Each college has a “junior common room” that votes at the OUSU. The number of votes each college has is determined by the size of the college.
The motion reads, “We [the OUSU and the NUS] have a moral responsibility to fight injustice,” and demands that Israel “end its occupation of all Arab lands.” It also calls on the union to “conduct research into higher education institutions’ contacts, relations, investment and commercial relationships that may be implicated in violating Palestinian human rights as stated by the BDS movement.”
The motion was proposed by Emily Cousens, a politics, philosophy and economics student at Wadham College. It was originally seconded by Wolfson College student Yulin Zhang, however he pulled out “after reflecting on the issue and not being comfortable with it.”
“I’m surprised that a motion to support a movement that was described by the president of Harvard University as anti-Semitic is even under discussion at the union,” Henry Watson from Magdalen College told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
“My fellow students at Magdalen College were repulsed at the idea of being associated with the BDS movement, especially considering past racist statements and Nazi allusions made by its founder, Omar Barghouti. We voted almost unanimously against any involvement with a movement that would apply a double standard to Israel.”
The controversial motion comes less than a week after Oxford University was in the spotlight after MP George Galloway walked out of a debate with Israeli student Eylon Aslan-Levy claiming he was “misled” by the organizer as he does not debate with or recognize Israelis.
On Monday, the organizer of the event, Mahmood Naji, a medical student at Christ Church, showed from the email correspondence a number of weeks ago with Galloway’s secretary that it was obvious that Aslan-Levy was an Israeli.
“It is strange that someone who takes such a hard-line view on debating Israelis should omit to ask whether or not his Jewish, pro-Israeli opponent, who has debated in Israel, is in fact Israeli,” Naji said in an open letter to Galloway on the Huffington Post.
“Your secretary did not go on to ask me about Eylon’s nationality – indeed I did not know until the debate that he is an Israeli – and even had I known his nationality, I was not aware of your staunch (and damaging) stance of boycotting Israeli individuals,” he continued.
“Should I let you know if your opponent is a vegetarian in case you have a policy of not debating vegetarians? Am I misleading you if I do not tell you your opponent’s shoe size? Think hard about the absurdity of your position. In none of the previous debates I had organized did it even occur to me to inform the debaters of their opponents’ nationalities. This particular debate was no different.”
Naji said he had been looking forward to seeing the anti-Israel MP put forward the case for the Palestinian people.
“Instead I was left humiliated in front of a room full of people who had waited an hour and a half for your arrival, only to be subsequently accused of being deceptive and misleading. Does that seem fair to you, Mr. Galloway?” he asked.
In response, Galloway said on his Facebook page that for him a boycott includes individuals or organizations in Israel who support “the existence of the racist apartheid creed of Zionism.”
“Israelis who are outside of and against the system of Zionism are comrades of mine – like Ilan Pappe. My opponent at Oxford did not meet this test. To compare Israeli Zionism to ‘vegetarianism’ is like a doctor not knowing the difference between a pimple and a tumor. Apartheid Israel is a cancer at the heart of the Middle East. Only its replacement by a binational democratic state from the Jordan River to the sea will cure this. That is what I am fighting for.”