Leeds becomes UK’s first university to divest from Israeli firms

30th Nov 2018
Leeds becomes UK’s first university to divest from Israeli firms

(Photo: Mtaylor848/Wiki/CC)

Elham Asaad Buaras

The University of Leeds has become the first UK university to divest from firms involved in the Israeli arms trade, following a student-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

The University of Leeds has ceased its dealings with Airbus, United Technologies and Keyence Corporation – all of which supply military equipment to Israel.

A University of Leeds spokesperson told The Muslim News: “Implementation of a Climate Active Strategy this year triggered the sale of Global Equity Funds, which held underlying investments in a large number of companies. This resulted in the sale of the University’s indirect holdings in Airbus, United Technologies and Keyence Corporation.”

The University is currently reviewing its ties to HSBC, which provides loans to Elbit Systems, Caterpillar and BAE Systems, all of which carry out arms deals with Israel.

The campaign was pushed by students, alumni and staff who signed an open letter to the University’s Vice-Chancellor after it emerged the university had invested £2.4 million in these companies this year.

The decision, which came on November 2, was applauded by the Leeds Palestine Solidarity Group, whose Director Evie Russell-Cohen commended students’ efforts.

“It’s clear that the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is being heard in the UK,” Russell-Cohen said.

The move came as a reaction to campus activists who had called for the university to divest from four firms in an open letter at the end of October.

Russell-Cohen called the move “a massive success. We hope that it will only be the beginning of a wave change across UK universities.”
“It was clear that the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions is being heard in the UK,” he added.

LPS spokesman, Yousef Abdel Fattah, said, “We hope all UK universities heed our call and divest just like they did with apartheid South Africa in the 1980s.”

Abdel Fattah said that “Palestinian students on campuses, like myself, have to live with the knowledge that our tuition fees are invested in companies manufacturing the same weapons used in violence against our loved ones.”

The open letter, signed by 23 staff members, 19 student societies and hundreds of students, criticized University management for using tuition fees “to invest in business activity which enables Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights.”

It cited the killing of 2,251 Palestinians during Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, including 526 children.

The letter called on the university to divest from the four companies, and for the university to “adopt a stronger screening policy” for its investments.

It demanded management “impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against the state of Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.”

Leave a Comment

What is 15 + 8 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)

Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

Latest Tweets