by Dan Lavie and Yael Branovsky
Oxford University Student Union votes down a motion calling for an academic and commercial boycott of Israel • Students: This is not the way to debate the conflict.
In a dramatic step, the Oxford University Student Union voted on Wednesday to reject a motion for a boycott of Israel.
The motion, which called for an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions as well as Israeli products, was rejected by an overwhelming 69 votes. Ten voted in favor and 15 abstained.
"This vote reflects a body of students who are willing to discuss the complexities that exist within Israel and do not see boycotting it as a viable option or avenue to discuss the conflict," said Judith Flacks, the campaign director for the Union of Jewish Students.
The Guardian reported earlier this week that the atmosphere on campus ahead of the vote was tense and tumultuous and that several of the motion's proposers had received threatening emails. One of these even withdrew his support of the motion.
The students were voting in favor of a larger call by the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement to boycott all Israeli products, including exported fruits and vegetables and Dead Sea products, as well as cutting all business ties to Israeli companies.
The students at Oxford were asked to vote on whether the British Students' Union should join the BDS movement.
"We welcome the decision by the Oxford Student Union not to boycott Israel," said Uri Reshtik, chairman of the Israel Students' Union.
"We are in close contact with students at Oxford and we know they are a model and example to the young generation of leaders in England, representing all students including Jewish students among them."
Dan Lavie and Yael Branovsky
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