JCRs pass anti-BDS motions

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Controversy surrounding an OUSU motion to support a boycott of Israel has continued, with several college JCRs registering their dissent against the proposals.

The motion would mandate the submission of a further motion at the NUS Conference this April advocating a ‘Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions’ (BDS) policy towards the Jewish state.

The motion, which states that “the Israeli government practises a policy of collective punishment and killing against the people of Gaza”, calls for the “non-violent punitive measures” that its supporters believe a boycott represents. It also asserts that OUSU has “a moral responsibility to fight injustice”.

The vote was delayed to this week’s meeting to allow JCRs sufficient time to debate the issue. However, as The Oxford Student went to print, it seemed unlikely that the motion would pass after several JCRs mandated their OUSU delegates to vote in opposition.

St John’s voted unanimously to oppose the motion. Gideon Freud, a John’s student and founding member of the Oxford Human Rights Network said: “BDS is an anti-peace, anti-coexistence movement. It works to block the fostering of relations between Israelis and Palestinians.”

He described the decision partly as an effort to ensure that “the college JCR remain[s] a depoliticised space where all students feel welcome.”

St Hugh’s also voted by a large majority to mandate their OUSU reps to vote in opposition to BDS, after a motion circulated by Secretary Luke Jones stated: “The purpose of OUSU itself is to support its own students, not act like a bunch of know-it-alls who can solve war by sitting in a room acting like bureaucratic hippies.”

Similarly, Wadham voted to oppose joining the boycott, with a motion passed by a 90 percent majority which described the boycott was “an assault on academic and intellectual freedom” and that “endorsement of discriminatory motions that call on the university to isolate people and groups for their nationality alone will make minority students feel unwelcome in Oxford”.

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