In response to the titular claim of the recent Mancunian article “BDS protests can make Jewish students a target”, we the BDS campaigners emphasise the sole aim of our campaign at the University:
The BDS campaign at the university demands that the university divests £millions of its students’ tuition fees from companies which actively sustain Israel’s illegal occupation, companies such as Caterpillar Inc who have repeatedly been condemned by the UN and numerous international human rights organisations for illegal demolitions of homes, schools, murder of activists, and involvement in the building of illegal settlements in the occupied territories. These investments are in direct contradiction of the University of Manchester’s Socially Responsible Investment policy and the campaign is compelled to demand the University’s adherence to it.
The current situation in Palestine makes our campaign all the more urgent. Since March 2018, the Israeli military has killed over 200 protestors demanding their basic human rights, including innocent women, children, medics and journalists. In the West Bank, Caterpillar bulldozers designed specifically for the Israeli army, have been used in the “Pressure Cooker procedure” (as reported by Who Profits). This procedure operates as follows:
First, the occupation forces surrounding the house use a megaphone or a loudspeaker to order any persons inside to evacuate it immediately. If the persons remain inside the house, the soldiers start shooting at the building first with small arms, continuing with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades and finally firing tank shells into the house. If the persons survive and still refuse to surrender to the occupation forces, an armored bulldozer or excavator is sent to the scene. The bulldozer initially shakes the house and then starts peeling off the walls of the floor in which the person is located, ultimately destroying the house and burying the victim of the attack beneath it.
We the BDS collective at the University of Manchester are first and foremost a solidarity group and condemn all forms of oppression and racism, including Antisemitism and Islamophobia, just as strongly as we condemn Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians, which our university is actively sustaining through the use of its own students’ tuition fees. The need for our campaign would cease to exist when the University ends its complicity in the ongoing war crimes and human rights abuses against Palestinians.
We solely pressure the policy makers and investors at the University who are invested in the occupation by supporting companies such as Caterpillar, not students or societies. In fact, we work alongside concerned students and staff to influence the university to pursue ethical investments.
Our campaign has been active for the past two years with growing support from students and staff on campus, yet the university still continues to invest in these companies. We will amplify our campaign further until the university adheres to its own Socially Responsible Investment Policy, and will continue to strive for freedom, justice, and equality for the Palestinian people.
If you are a student, staff member, or part of the alumni at the University of Manchester, please sign the petition demanding divestment from Caterpillar below: