The University of Chile’s Law Faculty Student Union overwhelmingly approved boycott, divestment and sanctions resolution against Israeli academic institutions.
Sixty-four percent of the students agreed that the University of Chile should not maintain any “institutional connections with those Israeli universities that contribute directly to the violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people.” On another ballot, 56 percent agreed to ban “activities that involve the participation of functionaries of the State of Israel or with funding from the Israeli embassy in the law school.”
The law school had a strong debate last year when many students objected to the university’s invitation to the Israeli ambassador to speak at an event about Israel’s presence in the U.N.
BDS UChile, part of the global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, known as BDS, against Israel, said this was an accomplishment that set a strong precedent.
“We believe it's incongruous to be complicit in a state that constantly violates the human rights of an oppressed people and maintains a system of apartheid, with 68 years of impunity. The adherence of the Faculty of Law to the academic BDS is our first step to get the University to show that the academic boycott of Israel is a necessary and legitimate means of effective pressure," said the group in a statement.
Human rights defenders have said that Israeli universities provide support for the state’s military illegal occupation and other abuses against Palestinians.
“BDS seeks to sanction actions, not opinions,” said the group. “No hunt will take place, but the empowerment of the students, staff and academics to avoid being accomplices with the institutions that de facto—and not only by speech—violate human rights.”
Anti-Palestinian groups have demanded that the head of the university nullify the vote, and have even compared the decision to the Spanish Inquisition.
On the other hand, PSCABI, the Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel, compared the achievement to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
“Only with the support of conscientious people, including students in Latin America, did the apartheid system crumble,” the PSCABI said in a statement.