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  • The campaign started when activist Huda Ammori introduced the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at the University of Manchester.

    The campaign started when activist Huda Ammori introduced the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at the University of Manchester. | Photo: (PSC/Twitter)

Published 19 January 2020

Research from a rights group shows universities invested over half a billion dollars in companies complicit of Israel's crimes against Palestinians.

British universities have invested almost US$600 million in companies involved in Israeli violations of international law, year-long research from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), reported Sunday by the Middle East Eye, revealed.

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At the end of 2019, the PSC made public a database listing 117, out of the United Kingdom’s (U.K.) 151 universities, with investments in firms implicated in Israeli crimes against Palestinians. 

“U.K. universities remain deeply complicit with Israel’s apartheid regime through their investment and institutional links,” the PSC writes on its website.

“Universities invest directly into companies which supply the Israeli military with arms, participate and profit from sustaining Israeli apartheid, assist in the building of illegal Israeli settlements and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population.”

The group adds that “these investments and collaborations exist despite the majority of U.K. universities holding strong policies that exist to prevent complicity with human rights abuses and war crimes.”

The findings, which sparked anger among students and pro-Palestinian activists, show that several universities invest in some of the largest arms manufacturers in the world, including Boeing, Airbus, and BAE Systems. All of these companies supply weapons and aircraft to the Israeli military.

While the University of Oxford is the greatest offender with some US$169,600 of “complicit investments,” the University College London even pushes the irony to have BAE Systems sponsoring their Center for Ethics and Law.

The University of Manchester for its part has US$954,354 in investments in Caterpillar, who supplies Israel’s military with the D9 bulldozers used to demolish homes, schools, and communities in Palestine.  

Other institutions such as Imperial College London have invested in military and high technology corporations like Cisco Systems, a firm that supplies the Israeli military information technology and that has developed surveillance infrastructure in the occupied West Bank.

The PSC resorted to the Freedom of Information to ask all 151 British universities for the values of their direct and indirect investments.

53 universities refused to deliver any information, 42 turned to the public interest exemption for the Freedom of Information Act and 11 did not respond.

To define the approximated amount of investments for universities that did not provide information, PSC used the data from universities that sent their details and calculated an average percentage of the stakes.

The campaign started when activist Huda Ammori introduced a branch of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at the University of Manchester where she used to study.

At the time, she suspected many universities, as well as her own, were complicit in such practices, which encouraged her to start collecting information for the database. 

“For me, it was an outrage, like any student, especially as a Palestinian student, who has to pay tuition fees towards institutions that are investing in companies enabling these abuses,” Ammori told Middle East Eye.

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