Students at Oxford University have overwhelmingly rejected a boycott of Israel, after a vote at the Students' Union Council.
The Oxford University Students Council voted on Wednesday night with 69 votes against, 10 for and 15 abstentions. They also rejected advocating for a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against the Middle East state at the National Union of Students.
The issue was initially debated on February 13, but a vote put back until this Wednesday evening to allow the various colleges' individual 'common rooms' to consider the issues of a boycott in detail.
Students at Oxford University have rejected a call to boycott Israel
The motion read: "We [the OUSU and the NUS] have a moral responsibility to fight injustice,” and demands that Israel “end its occupation of all Arab lands,” proposed by a student at Wadham College.
A Wolfson College student who had originally seconded the motion, pulled out “after reflecting on the issue and not being comfortable with it.” Both the proposer and the seconder of the motion have received threatening emails, according to the Guardian.
David J Townsend, OUSU President, said in a statement that tensions had been running high on the evening of the vote.
"There have been strong emotions on either side of this issue. A fulsome debate was had, there was ample opportunity for Colleges' student bodies to decide how to mandate their delegates, and a decisive resolution was achieved by the vote of those delegates today.
"Despite disagreements, there was in fact some common ground between proponents and opponents of the motion. I hope to see the different opinions come together in a spirit of goodwill to move away from boycotts, which break down relationships between the UK and Israel, and towards coalition-building activities, which build up relationships between progressive Britons, Israelis, Palestinians and others to find a solution to the problem which complies with law, justice and shared human rights.
"At the end of the day, that's the result that all good people want to see."
Last week, Respect MP George Galloway caused an uproar after he walked out of a debate at the university on his discovery that student Eylon Aslan-Levy had dual British-Israeli nationality.
He said in a statement after the boycott debate at OUSU: "Tonight Oxford students showed that their commitment to intellectual freedom is unshakeable.
“In rejecting calls for a boycott against Israel by a seven-to-one margin, we demonstrated resoundingly that we want Oxford to continue to cooperate with Israeli academics, trade with Israeli businesses and – yes – debate with Israeli debating societies.
“I hope that other British universities will follow Oxford’s lead in standing up against divisive attempts to hinder academic cooperation and progress.”
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