The University College London Union (UCLU) has voted to boycott Israel, a day after the UCLU Debating Society passed a motion opposing the BDS movement.
The conflicting results were not the only thing differing between these two votes, but also the democratic process.
The UCLU Debating Society hosted a democratic debate, attended by over a hundred students, where anyone who wanted to speak could be heard.
The UCLU, on the other hand, passed a motion voted on by a handful of officers, not a vast array of students. The motion passed by 14-4, hardly an example of democracy.
As the UCL JSOC and Friends of Israel Society were not asked to submit evidence before the UCLU Council vote, the vote was extremely one-sided, taking into account only one viewpoint. Another example of democracy at its finest!
The JSOC and Friends of Israel Society, when hearing about the upcoming vote, put forward a proposal to delay the motion so it could be considered by a larger student forum, rather than 21 officers. This was rejected along with a proposed amendment to change the title and text of the motion to “Effective solidarity for the palestinian struggle” rather than “In support of BDS at UCLU.”
Besides creating a precedent that motions can pass, affecting the whole student body, with only a handful of people voting; the vote has also determined the discriminatory make-up of all future UCLU councils.
The motion passed mandates that:
5. All sabbatical officers respect and uphold this boycott.
6. Our NUS delegates to vote in favour of any pro-BDS policy at NUS.
This has effectively removed all pro-Israel students, including a majority of Jewish students, from political office. These students will now be faced with a choice: Uphold these boycott laws which you don’t believe in, or don’t be a sabbatical officer or NUS delegate. It seems to be a lose-lose situation, and a huge infringement on democratic rights.
Ariel Tamman, co-President of the UCL Friends of Israel Society worries that this motion will deter Jewish students further and “it may lead to less Jewish students coming to UCL.”
In order to try and overturn this motion, a petition has been launched to “call a General Assembly for all students to discuss the BDS policy passed by Union Council.”