Landmark policy to boycott Israeli passed at University of Manchester Student Union

banners showing from the window of the occupied space in manchester uni

banners showing from the window of the occupied space in manchester uni


On Wednesday 11th Feb the University of Manchester Students Union passed a motion in support of the people of Gaza, which includes a resolve to boycott Israel, in an emergency general meeting [1]. The meeting, which was attended by over 1000 students, was called in response to the crisis in Gaza. It follows a week long occupation of University of Manchester buildings by students [2]. The University of Manchester Students Union is the biggest in Western Europe, and is also the first western students union to pass a motion includes an out and out boycott of Israel.

The policy that was passed compared Israel to apartheid South Africa and supported the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. It called for the Union to divest from Israel, boycotting all companies which support or benefit from the Israeli occupation, and to lobby the University to adopt a similar boycott policy towards Israel. The motion also condemned the University for its lack of progress in divesting from arms companies. Following the meeting the union will send a letter to the BBC condemning their refusal to air the Disaster Emergency Committees (DEC) appeal for Gaza [3], as well as facilitating a day of fundraising with proceeds going to the DEC.

That Students at Manchester have a long history of showing solidarity with Palestinians, most notably in their affirmation of the “Palestine: Right to an Education” motion passed in 2007. This motion twinned our Union with the An-Najah University in the occupied West Bank, and committed the
Union to campaign for the rights of Palestinian students. Similarly, the Students’ Union played an important role in the international solidarity campaign against South African apartheid by divesting the university’s funds from South Africa.

Over the three weeks following December 27th the Israeli army and airforce killed over 1,300 Palestinians, including over 400 children, and injured more than 4,000 in a series of brutal attacks on the besieged population of Gaza. During the onslaught into Gaza, Israel used white phosphorus illegally [4].

The events in Manchester are part of a wave of actions and occupations sweeping universities across the country [5].


Matt Scholey, a first year Politics and Modern History student, said “This is going to set a precedent, more and more student unions will have the confidence to take similar step. Last year LSE SU called for divestment, now UMSU calls for a complete boycott, and tomorrow the rest of the student movement will follow suite.”

Notes for Editor
2. For more information see: For the list of demands:
3. The DEC is an umbrella organisation for 13 British charities.
4. As reported by Amnesty International on the 19/01/2009, and The Times on the 24/01/2009



  1. Chris said

    Incredible, congratulations, that’s fucking superb

  2. Chris S said

    Well done, it has been a brilliant day.

    Viva Palestina!

  3. Aisha. R said

    Absolutely fantastic result!
    Well done to everyone who worked their socks off to organise and promote the EGM and to everyone that turned up to support our brothers and sisters in Gaza.
    Today was the first time I entered the occupation at the Simon building and I’ve gotta say, you are an inspiration!! Seeing the amount of dedication you have for the Palestinian cause has really touched and inspired me to do more.
    Please, please keep it up. Ur all amaaaazing! =)

    We will never stop fighting for the freedom of our brothers and sisters in Palestine!

    Viva Viva Palestina.

    P.S. any news on the potential protest outside the board meeting tomorrow?

  4. Mez said

    😀 Fantastic day, I’m so proud of the unity and the amazing atmosphere in both the meeting and the occupations!

    Well done to everyone who made a difference, especially to those who have stuck with the occupation from day one 🙂 Lets hope the progress continues…


  5. sumayyah said


  6. […] Manchester Uni occupation blog On Wednesday 11th Feb the University of Manchester Students Union passed a motion in support of the […]

  7. […] From Haaretz… Irish trade unionists said this week that they plan to launch a boycott of Israeli goods in 2009. Meanwhile, Manchester University Student Union adopted a resolution supporting a boycott of Israel. […]

  8. babasu said

    Just wanted to say – good for you – it’s tremendous to see people demonstrate so actively, passionately and with such empathy. Proud it’s happened in Manchester as well, with its history of democratic, political engagement. Let’s hope other SUs follow suit shortly.

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