British Society for Middle Eastern Studies endorses boycott of Zionist universities

British Society for Middle Eastern Studies endorses boycott of Israeli universities

A protester holds a placard reading ‘End the occupation of Palestine’ during a BDS rally

The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) has endorsed the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, in a vote taken at its AGM in Leeds on Monday.

According to reports on social media, the resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign was easily passed, with almost 80 percent support (final numbers to be confirmed).

The resolution highlights Israel’s obstruction of “Palestinians’ right to education by destroying Palestinian universities and schools, arresting students, raiding and forcing Palestinian universities to close, and restricting Palestinians’ movement”.

The text goes on to describe the “key role” played by Israeli universities “in planning, implementing and justifying Israel’s illegal military occupation”, and claims such institutions “are maintaining a close and supportive relationship with the Israeli military”.

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Example of this relationship include “involvement in developing weapon systems, providing justification for military actions and extra-judicial killings, rewarding students serving in the occupation forces, designing and delivering special programmes for soldiers and officers, building on occupied land, and systematically discriminating against non-Jewish students”.

Proposed by Professor John Chalcraft (LSE) and seconded by Dr Rafeef Ziadah (SOAS), the resolution commits BRISMES to “endorsing the call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions until these institutions publicly end their support and complicity in violating Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law”.

After the resolution passed, Dr Ziadah tweeted: “members of #BRISMES2019 passed a #BDS resolution @ annual general meeting earlier today. This was a real grassroots campaign, long time in the making. Congratulations to every single person who worked tirelessly to make this happen!”

Palestinian boycott campaigners welcomed the move, and urged other international academic societies to take “similar measures against racism and oppression”.

BRISMES was established in 1973 “to encourage and promote the study of the Middle East in the United Kingdom”, and brings together “teachers, researchers, students, diplomats, journalists and others who deal professionally with the Middle East”.

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