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Irish students at Trinity College Dublin vote to endorse BDS movement

April 13, 2018 4:01 P.M. (Updated: April 13, 2018 4:01 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- On March 22nd, students from the Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in Dublin, Ireland voted to endorse the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement against the state of Israel.

64.5 percent of voters backed the proposals. The election had a valid poll of 1,995 votes (1,287 yes votes). The long-term policy mandate will be valid for 5 years and required a 60 percent supermajority to pass.

The BDS campaign was backed by the incoming Student Union president and Graduate Student Union President-Elect.

In a statement, the TCD Students Union (TCDSU) said that the support of the presidents marked a shift from last year, when a BDS proposal was defeated at a Student Union council meeting last April. 

“It was later revealed that former TCDSU president Kieran McNulty had been lobbied by the Deputy Israeli Ambassador before the vote,” the group said.

“Taking the campaign directly to grassroots students and outside of the campus politico culture was incredibly important. Irish people have an instinctive understanding of the Palestinian struggle. When the BDS campaign brought people this common sense, anti-racist, anti-colonial proposal they overwhelmingly supported us,” the statement said. 

TCDSU is now the 3rd Irish student union to endorse BDS after NUIGSU and the student Union at Queen’s in Belfast. 

“We intend to use our mandate and the platform it gives us to spread BDS to other campuses and to break Trinity’s shameful research and financial ties with Apartheid Israel,” highlighting that €800,000 of Trinity’s endowment is invested in Lockheed Martin and BAE systems which manufacture weapons used against Palestinian civilians.

Trinity researchers have collaborated with Elbit Security systems an Israeli drone manufacturer, and Trinity has research ties with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem which is built on what is internationally recognised as settlement land. 

“We are now in a position to fight for an apartheid-free campus. Trinity led the way by divesting from Apartheid South Africa in 1971. We’re furthering that struggle for academic responsibility and international solidarity,” the group said. 

The BDS movement was founded in July 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government.

The movement falls within the traditions of the nonviolent boycott movement against the apartheid regime in South Africa.

As support for the BDS movement has grown, Israel has attempted to tighten the noose on the movement in recent months, most notably by passing the anti-BDS law, which bans foreign individuals who have openly called for a boycott of Israel from entering the country.

Israel’s crackdown on the BDS movement has also seen several Jewish activists being denied entry into Israel, which has caused critics to question the ideological motives of the so-called “Jewish State.”

Furthermore, Israel has routinely condemned the UN for what it sees as their anti-Israel stance, as numerous resolutions have been passed in recent months condemning Israel’s half-century occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and its relentless settlement enterprise that has dismembered the Palestinian territory.

However, Palestinians and activists have long pointed out that nonviolent movements, expressed both in BDS activities and raising awareness on the international stage, are some of the last spaces to challenge Israel’s occupation, as Israeli forces have clamped down on popular movements in the Palestinian territory, leaving many Palestinians with diminished hope for the future.

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