Students at Britain’s prestigious Oxford University are set to hold a controversial vote this week as the Students Union (OUSU) stands to make its final decision on whether to boycott Israeli companies and products.
The vote, which is scheduled for Wednesday, follows a tumultuous week, brought about by anti-Israeli MP George Galloway’s hurried and highly criticized exit of a debate on Israel, after discovering that his opponent was an Israeli citizen.
“I don’t recognize Israel and I don’t debate with Israelis,” Galloway said, to gasps of shock and mutters of “racism.”
According to The Guardian, the boycott motion calls on Oxford students to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement “in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and its hindrance of attempts to create a Palestinian state.”
According to the report, both the motion’s promoter and the person who seconded it have received threatening emails, prompting the latter to withdrawn his support and the former to ask that her name not be publicized.
The BDS movement urges a boycott of Israeli exports as well as any firms – British and international – that do business in or with Israel.
Some BDS supporters have also disrupted cultural events involving Israeli performers.
Last week, the Oxford Student Union gave its colleges two additional weeks to debate the issue, after most failed to come to a decision.
Henry Watson of Magdalen College told the Guardian that “People thought it was a question of supporting Israel or Palestine or supporting peace. 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.”
Magdalen College voted 39-3 against the motion, Watson said.