BDS x SOAS First Victory!

A huge victory in the academic boycott campaign has been achieved this week, as SOAS management have recently announced that they have ended their contract with Hebrew University of Jerusalem, due to concerns raised by the SOAS community. This is a massive win for the future of academic boycotts, and must set a precedent for more universities in the UK to follow suit.

This has been a long, laborious effort on the part of academics, staff and students at SOAS who have been demanding an academic boycott for years. Academics at SOAS have been in conversation with the academic board for years to end this immoral contract. In addition to this, in recent years, students have mobilised on campus to affirm the need for such a boycott of Israeli institutions by passing a BDS referendum. The BDS referendum was passed in 2015, after SOAS students worked endlessly to inform people across campus of the importance of committing to BDS. They managed to achieve a 73% landslide vote, which was a huge success. It is disappointing, but not surprising that SOAS did not comply with the demands from the SOAS community, by continuing these unethical relationships with Israel. Despite this promising news that the contract has now been terminated, it would be naïve to assume that SOAS management have finally complied with the collective, democratic, all-school wide BDS vote. SOAS have ended a partnership with one Israeli university, but have begun a new one with another.

SOAS have announced that they have started a new five-year contract, starting in the academic year September 20/21, with Haifa University. Haifa University is located on Mount Carmel, which was colonised by Zionist militias in 1948. The university is perpetuating the Zionist agenda, as students are offered specific military programmes, which adds to the hyper-securitisation of Palestinians. Student soldiers at Haifa University are armed on campus, which disproportionately threatens the safety of Palestinians on campus and in the local area. SOAS’ justification for this new contract with Haifa University, is that it is “a good option for us due to the structure of the programme and issues around students’ welfare.” Israeli institutions are not concerned with the welfare of the Palestinian people, and the programme structure should not be prioritised over Palestinians’ livelihoods. We must stress the fact that all Israeli universities must be boycotted, as they all play vital roles in the maintenance of the Occupation. Once again, SOAS are naïve if they believe that we will settle with this decision. We will continue to pursue our academic boycott campaign on campus, with a new focus on Haifa University. Our work has not finished and we will not rest until SOAS are no longer collaborating with any Israeli universities and are no longer investing in complicit companies.