As expected, Oxford University Student Union has firmly rejected the call to boycott Israeli goods, institutions and produce. Earlier today the motion was rejected 69-10 with 15 abstentions. Henry Watson, a student at Magdalen College, offered a succinct and robust response to the proposed boycott:
The boycott goes against everything the university stands for. The idea that we are not going to read your books or articles or hear your arguments on the basis of your nationality is ridiculous.”
Judith Flacks, the Union of Jewish Students Campaigns Director, welcomed the news from Oxford:
“’It’s encouraging to see that this vote reflects a student body who are willing to discuss the complexities that exist within Israel and do not see boycotting it as a viable option or avenue to discuss the conflict.”
George Galloway’s recent decision to walk out on a debate once he realized the student opposing him was an Israeli can’t have done the BDS cause much good. His action was widely condemned – with even the BDS movement itself issuing a speedy disclaimer, distancing itself from the boycott of individuals. Bizarrely, this has led to Press TV claiming that BDS adopted this stance to ‘please its Zionist masters.’
February 27, 2013 at 9:41 pm
Here’s a link to that lovely moment when Gorgeous George took a hike. Note that the student is actually the holder of joint British/Israeli nationality, and wrote a great op-ed comment in last saturday’s London Times. Behind a pay-wall – look in your local library perhaps? Do read the rest of the article. The video and reports have gone viral.
Serves Galloway right.
March 1, 2013 at 12:00 am
Aslan-Levy wrote that he doubted if “even his British passport” would have been enough to persuade GG to “enter into a dialogue” with him. It was “quite enough” that Aslan-Levy had grandparents “in a country [GG] did not like” for A-L to be “the victim of his righteous (and selective) bigotry”.
I’m certain that A-L is absolutely right when he says that if an MP were heard saying “I don’t debate with Pakistanis … it would be front-page news and the British public would be in uproar”.
According to A-L’s article, GG later tweeted that an Israeli citizen, “by definition” could not be a member of his constituency. (Gosh!!)
The Oxford Union debate was that “This house believes that Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank”. Aslan-Levy’s speech began by saying that “such a withdrawal should happen within the context of a permanent peace treaty”.
Aslan-Levy recalls in his piece that he and Galloway had first encountered each other when the latter visited A-L’s school some 5 or 6 years ago to give a speech. The schoolboy A-L took up GG on something he’d allegedly gone on record as saying, and I quote from the Times article, namely, “ no decent person should … talk with … any part of the apartheid state of Israel”.
A-L records making the point that a citizen of a state is part of that state, and therefore his question to GG was that “[since] I am an Israeli citizen, will you talk to me?”
According to A-L’s account, GG was “outraged” and denied ever having said such a thing, and went on to accuse Aslan-Levy of being “an L-I-A-R: Liar!”
It seemed then that any boycott that Galloway was maintaining didn’t apply to Israeli individuals. However A-L now believes that he has “answered my question truthfully: “I don’t debate with Israelis”.
I’ve never been wholly sold on “No platform” arguments (although I understand why some people passionately defend that position), and so I warmed to A-L’s neat remark, “I hope that this episode will encourage people to invite more bigots to public debates, in order to tear off their masks”.
He follows it with the even neater, “Mr Galloway had a sterling opportunity to make a fool of me by destroying my arguments. Instead he made a fool of himself”.