In Week 2 there will be a referendum on whether or not YUSU should boycott goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements from Occupied Palestinian Territories, such as the West Bank. This is not the same as supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, which would mean boycotting Israel and all Israeli goods.
The online campaign began at the beginning of this week and next week there will be campaigning on campus. The Yorker has been in contact with both sides.
“I hope that the York student body will choose to vote yes in the upcoming referendum. The Palestinian land in the West Bank has gradually been fragmented by illegal Israeli settlements since the beginning of Israel’s military occupation in 1967 and this is a way of trying to reverse that trend. Voting Yes means taking a moral stance against products produced on illegally annexed land.” (Andrew Knowles, UoY Palestinian Solidarity Society)
“If this absurd motion passes, there will be nothing for them to triumphantly rip from the shelves of YourShop. “While YUSU does not currently sell any products from the settlements, the move will be a symbol…” They are right, it will be merely symbolic – but what will it be a symbol of? They suggest ‘solidarity’. It would be a peculiar kind of solidarity. It would be a statement that you cannot occupy land unilaterally (unless you’re Morocco), that violence in the Middle East is all too common (though I see no boycott of Syria, or condemnation of ISIS, on the cards), and that YUSU ought to fight for Human Rights (just not in China. Or Saudi Arabia). You see, that’s what it would be a symbol of. It would symbolise that we somehow think Israel ought to be singled out.
If you think it is the place of a Students’ Union to work their way through an atlas and pass symbolic condemnations whenever a country falls short of their ideal, then go ahead. But do the sensible thing, and start with the countries we do actually support financially!” (Matthew Dent, No Campaign)
On Monday, 20th there will be a referenda debate where each side will put forward their side to the audience and then on the Tuesday (21st) at Midday the voting will open and will stay open until Thursday (23rd) at the Midday. I would urge you to go and vote, it is so easy (www.yusu.org/vote) and it is important that we all have a say in the policy of our union. Remember there is always the option to abstain if you are unsure which side you stand on.