On Friday, the measure, “Should the Students’ Union endorse a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions?” was defeated in a 904 to 649 vote.Jewish students at Britain’s University of Sussex co-opted the narrative of their opponents to defeat a boycott motion on campus last week by acknowledging the injustice that their opponents sought to fight, while creating a message that could be embraced by the school’s left-leaning student body.
Their strategy, which they dubbed ‘Pro: Palestine, Israel, Peace,’ helped deliver a different narrative than some students use to counter anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns.
“For instance, if the vote was between a Palestinian solidarity campaign and the traditional defense of Israel that screams ‘anti-Semitism’ from the rooftops, Sussex students as a whole would want to show their support for the Palestinians,” student organizer Joshua Brill said.
In an interview with The Algemeiner, Brill said, “We knew that most Sussex students would be inclined to vote in favor of a boycott,” not because they believe in the merits of a boycott on Israeli academic and cultural institutions changing anything in Israel, “but more because it’s a way in which students can exercise solidarity with the Palestinian cause.”
He said that references to ‘anti-Semitism,’ or ‘terrorist organisation Hamas,’ or ‘Israel’s security concerns,’ would be lost on their audience, and would have “lost the vote every single time – without fail.” He said, “Students want to show that they support the Palestinian cause, and we completely understand that.”
The strategy was “to provide an alternative pro-Palestinian campaign that students could align with and still exercise their support for Palestinians, without actually voting in favor of the motion.”
In discussing Israel with his classmates, Brill found that supporting the Palestinians was one of many causes in which students displayed broad ignorance and knee-jerk liberalism.
One boycott vote on the ballot that did pass, by a 9:1 margin, also took the temperature on campus. Following the second price increase in seven months to a daily ticket price of nearly $6 aboard the Brighton and Hove bus, the University of Sussex student body voted to boycott the buses in Brighton and Hove.
Brill said: “They don’t know much about the Israel/Palestine conflict, but because their politics swing to the left, they automatically align themselves with any motion that seeks to represent itself as pro-Palestinian, and they do so quite blindly, at times, without knowing all the facts.”
The team included Miriam Steiner and Daniel Ben-Chorin, and all three are children of Israelis, and could say they shared empathy for the plight of the Palestinian Arab people living in the three-generation-long conflict.
“Having Israeli parents, we knew that the most pro-peace pro-Palestine progressive views come from these Israeli academics and professors, and that boycotting and silencing them would be detrimental to …read more
Source: The Algemeiner