Wednesday, June 17, 2015

  • Wednesday, June 17, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
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Aberdeen, Ireland, June 17 - Students at the University of Aberdeen who seek to isolate Israel voted this week, for the sake of consistency, to sever all ties with Israeli groups who also want to isolate Israel.

The University of Aberdeen Student Union held a session to debate and vote on the boycott proposal, which specifically calls for Israeli BDS activists to be included in the list of people and institutions to be avoided in the effort to aid the Palestinian cause by weakening Israel and undermining the country's legitimacy.

If adopted by the university, the new policy would address a glaring inconsistency in the behavior of the BDS movement. Whereas BDS calls for a blanket boycott of Israeli groups, people, and institutions, including academics and artists sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, no international BDS supporters have applied the same rigorous interpretation of BDS to Israeli BDS activists, despite their being flagrantly Israeli. A boycott of Israelit BDS supporters by their counterparts abroad would remove this glaring demonstration of potential hypocrisy.

University of Aberdeen officials were quick to note that the vote does not bind the administration, which maintains robust ties with Israeli BDS activists. "The vote, as a welcome democratic expression of student opinion, is important, but the students' positions are not the only factor we must consider in formulating academic policy," explained University Provost Goahead McMyday. "Also, it is much easier to make idealized pronouncements than to implement them, however laudable their goals."

Other student groups are expected to follow suit when the next academic year begins in September. Organizers of campus groups promoting BDS in the US say they are especially keen to hold a vote on the issue as soon as possible.

"The students at Aberdeen put their finger on a thorny question that affects all of us," said Jewish Voice for Peace chapter president Albiya Fass-Schist of Northwestern University. "We can't honestly claim to be applying our principles faithfully if we draw some arbitrarily line between Israelis who think like us and all other Israelis," she explained. "Being Israeli by definition makes a person an oppressor, or at least an enabler of oppression, and it's disingenuous to say that that Israeliness, that culpability, is somehow negated by advocating BDS."

Israeli activists expressed shock, confusion, and anger, but ultimately, said Tel Aviv University student and BDS proponent Omar Barghouti, the move is probably healthier in the long run for all involved. "This measure will help everyone be more honest about their intentions. I do feel sorry for the Israelis who thought they'd be able to gain some legitimacy in the world's eyes by betraying their country, but they'll get over it. There's always some other outlet for self-hate."

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go hang my new diploma on the wall," he added.

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