Divestment campaign successes in London School of Economics
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Divestment campaign successes in London School of Economics

The London School of Economics Student Union (LSESU) voted on February 14th to call on the university as well as the National Union of Students to divest from companies that provide military and commercial support for Occupation, which is nearing it’s 60th year.

The motion, which was brought forward before more than 400 university students by the LSESU Palestine Society, passed with 339 voting for and 46 against. Specifically, it called for targeted divestment from companies that provide direct support to the military or the construction of the Wall as well as those that operate on Jewish settlements and other Palestinian lands that have been illegally expropriated. Supporters of the motion called for the campaign to continue until “companies cease such practices or until Israel ends its discriminatory oppression and colonisation of the Palestinian communities.”

The Union is also strong in its support for Palestinian rights. It has expressed support of the refugee’s right of return and has called for an end to the various movement restrictions that have been choking the West Bank as well the discrimination against Palestinians living inside the 1948 lines. The Union also decided to become more involved with the international campaign to end the siege on Gaza and to work more closely with a number of groups, including Jews for Justice for Palestinians, the British Committee for Universities in Palestine, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Zochrot and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

The passing of this motion marks a strong step forward the wider BDS campaign. The London School of Economics is one of the top educational institutions in the UK, and its students’ call for divestment is uncompromising in its stance on the abhorrent practices of the Occupation. Indeed, UK universities and academics have been the most responsive to the Palestinian civil society BDS call. In addition to actions taken by smaller groups and individuals, Britain’s University and College Union (UCU) passed a resolution last May bringing the Union closer to the academic boycott. UK trade unions are also slowly taking up the call, with Unison, one of the largest unions in Britain, supporting a complete boycott.

As expected, however, there has been a reaction from supporters of the Occupation state. While the tired accusations of “anti-Semitism” and “one-sidedness” are not new, a statement put out today by 25 US trade unions condemning UK Unions’ support of Palestinian rights is more serious. This statement, lacking both logical and historical understanding and written in the disastrous spirit of Oslo era normalisation, is nevertheless a sign that the scope and seriousness of the BDS movement is spreading to the point where it cannot be ignored.

With the BDS movement gaining momentum, it is imperative that international supporters of Palestinian rights continue to move forward in the face of increased opposition. Time, unfortunately, is on the side of the Occupation and each day sees more demolitions, seizures and raids. Villages in the Jordan and the northern West Bank are under serious threat, while work to cleanse Jerusalem continues at an alarmingly more rapid pace.

The LSESU has been subject to a number of attacks by Zionist groups. Palestinian students’ councils are preparing letters of support for the LSE action. Worldwide solidarity and support from organizations and students groups is welcomed. You can contact global@stopthewall.org to get contact details for the LSESU.