Students say Manchester university complicit in murder of Palestinians

Students protesting against Manchester university’s investment in Israeli war crimes.

UoM BDS Campaign

Students at the University of Manchester in the UK on Wednesday crashed a board meeting to demand governors divest from Caterpillar, a company involved in Israeli war crimes against Palestinians.

In this viral video, which has already had almost 14,000 views, the protestors object to their tuition fees being invested in the firm.

Caterpillar supplies many of the bulldozers the Israeli army frequently uses to demolish Palestinian homes, both in the West Bank and in present-day Israel.

In the video one of the activists says they have been asking the board to divest from Caterpillar for three years: “they are responsible for the demolition of Palestinian homes,” she says.

She asks the board if they will immediately commit to divestment.

But one of them replies by accusing the students of having “invaded” the room and says that “we’re already aware of the issue. We have to deal with that in our own processes,” claiming it would be “reviewed.”

But he refused to give an immediate answer.

The students later said in a statement it had been advertised as a “meet the governors” meeting.

Hypocrisy

Michael Crick, another of the board members, in the video lectures the protestors for having “a cheek asking for a response.”

But he was quickly silenced into apparent shame when one of the student activists retorts that “you’ve got a cheek investing in a company that is complicit in war crimes.”

Ironically, Crick is also a high-profile TV journalist for Channel 4 News, with a famously insistent style of journalism, as seen in the video below.

Crick’s response was “condescending and hypocritical,” Emilia Micunovic, chair of the student BDS campaign told The Electronic Intifada.

On their Facebook page, the students involved in the university’s boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign explained that “BDS activists at the university stormed into the board of governors meeting to force them to listen.”

They said that the board is complicit in Israeli apartheid.

“We fundamentally disagree that ‘going through the proper channels’ is the correct tactic,” they explain. “We have been working within these channels for over three years. They have not listened.”

At the conclusion of the video, the activists walk out, promising to come back every year until the university divests.

Students from the People and Planet group also made demands to the meeting, student news outlet the Mancunion reports.

The group insisted the university should divest from fossil fuels.

Alliances

BDS and climate change action groups like People and Planet have increasingly been working together on UK campuses over the past year.

In November, Leeds became the first UK university to divest from Israeli apartheid, as part of a new push by Palestine solidarity campaigners.

Conceding to long-held BDS demands, the university divested from three firms involved in the Israeli arms trade.

University spin doctors later downplayed the link to Israeli apartheid, claiming the divestment was part of their “climate active strategy.”

But – declaring their solidarity with the Palestinian BDS campaign - People and Planet in Leeds disputed this, pointing out that the university is still heavily invested in fossil fuels.

In violation of their own “socially responsible investment policy,” the University of Manchester remains invested in Caterpillar to the tune of more than $630,000, campaigners say.

The University of Manchester and Michael Crick have both been contacted for comment.

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.