The students’ union of King’s College London voted to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign at its Student General Meeting on Tuesday evening.
The motion adopted by the union states that «BDS is an effective tactic, which educates society about these issues, economically pressures companies/institutions to change their practices, and politically pressures the global community.»
In addition, the union voted in favor of carrying out research into King’s College London (KCL) investments, partnerships and contracted companies «that may be implicated in violating Palestinian human rights.»
Union members also resolved to pressure KCL to divest from Israel and from companies that support «the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies,» either directly or indirectly.
The union determined to raise awareness of Israel’s «apartheid policies and its illegal occupation» by helping the college’s Action Palestine Society with printing materials and supporting events like the International «Israeli Apartheid Week.»
The motion was proposed to be debated three months ago, however was delayed after a threat of legal action. The motion reappeared after the union’s Board of Trustees gave the green light for it to debated at the Student General Meeting.
As a reaction to the BDS campaign, pro-Israel students formed the KCL Israel Society.
The Society’s president, Sami Steinbock, said to a university newspaper that “the Israel society was founded in order to improve the framework at KCL for an open and two-sided debate on Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The Society responded to the motion in a letter to the union, calling the decision discriminatory. Claiming boycotts «constitute systematic attempts to shut down constructive dialogue.»
In 2006, King’s College London Principal Richard Trainor rejected a proposal to boycott Israel. In response to the KCL students’ union decision, the college stated that “King’s College London does not support or engage in boycotts of academic institutions.”
The institution also clarified that “King’s College London Students’ Union (KCLSU) is constitutionally separate from, and independent of, King’s College London. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) motion passed at the Student General Meeting on 25 March 2014 is a matter for KCLSU, an independent registered charity and membership organisation, governed by its own Board of Trustees.”