Palestinian students call on Sussex University to vote for BDS
The Secretariat of Student Unions and Blocs in the Gaza Strip, a coordination of 12 student unions in Gaza, and the Palestinian Students Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel, a Gaza based student group, are writing to strongly urge students at the University of Sussex to vote in favor of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) during the upcoming student union referendum.
Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid policies has enormous impacts on our right to education and on Palestinian youth in general. Israel’s recent military assault on Gaza killed more than 2,168 Palestinians and injured over 10,895 people, and also destroyed many university buildings, schools, and other educational buildings. Restrictions on the freedom of movement and Israel’s brutal military occupation presents numerous challenges for Palestinian students in the West Bank. Palestinian students living inside Israel face discrimination at the hands of the Israeli universities at which they study. Israel’s control of borders makes it incredibly difficult for Palestinian students to take up offers to study overseas, especially for Palestinians living in Gaza, who are not allowed even to study at the universities of West Bank.
Support for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is one of the most important steps that student unions internationally can take to stand with us in our struggle for our right to education and for freedom and justice.
By deciding not to sell Israeli products in student union shops, and by campaigning against European companies such as Veolia that help Israel to maintain its apartheid system, Sussex student union would be taking practical steps in solidarity with Palestinian students and youth, and making important contributions to efforts to end international support for Israel’s crimes.
As Palestinian student unions, we reject attempts by those that seek to defend Israel’s crimes to present their opposition to BDS as ‘progressive’ or based on ‘protecting the interests of Palestinians’. These attempts to undermine effective solidarity, including those that seek to promote the voices of those very few individual Palestinians that oppose BDS as somehow representative, are colonial in nature in that they seek to silence the voice of the overwhelming majority of Palestinian student unions and civil society as a whole, which is clear and unambiguous in its support for BDS.
We also wish to express our admiration and respect for student campaigners at the University of Sussex who have done so much to support BDS. When Sussex student union voted to boycott Israeli goods in 2009, it was one of the first student unions in the UK to do so. We hope that the student union at Sussex will continue to stand alongside the National Union of Students and the more than 20 other individual UK student unions that also support BDS and our struggle for freedom, justice and equality.