An Open Letter on BDS

Harry Anderson


Guild of Students

Liverpool University


Mr Anderson

I read with dismay, shame and concern that your Guild has voted to participate in the hateful and destructive boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement which seeks to de-legitimise and stigmatise the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.

My dismay is obvious as, by all objective criteria, you have perversely singled out for opprobrium the only place in the Middle East where a person is NOT discriminated against because of their sexuality,  gender, religion or race, and the only FREE country in the MENA region (see extracted results from the latest Freedom House survey below).

This odious BDS campaign is nothing to do with human rights and nothing to do with peace as it merely puts up barriers to the co-operation and understanding between people that is necessary for peace.

Most of all, it has nothing to do with the plight of the Palestinian people, who have suffered and continue to suffer far more death and persecution at the hands of their so-called brethren in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and their so-called leaders in Hamas and Fatah than they ever have from Israel.

The BDS campaign has never once raised a peep of complaint against Syria, Lebanon or Jordan.

And the Guild has not chosen to boycott any of the dozens of states whose human rights record is by any measure exponentially worse than Israel’s, not even those named above who have denied the most basic of rights to Palestinians for decades.

Instead it solely targets the only state which, despite years of terrorist attacks against civilian targets such as buses, restaurants and hotels that have cost hundreds of lives, has made repeated offers to give land for the establishment of the first independent state of Palestine in history (most recently in 2008), and which unilaterally withdrew ALL civilian and military presence from Gaza in 2005 for that purpose.

When I studied at Liverpool University, some 25 years ago, I had to battle against the prejudice of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign who even then attempted to ban the Jewish Society, of which I was Chair, from celebrating our cultural, historic and national links to Israel.

Back then, I could count on the support of my colleagues on the Guild Executive, who saw clearly that the campaign to delegitimise Israel was merely a front, and that the only purpose served by such a ban would be to send out a strong message to the Jewish students:

“You are not welcome here”.

My shame therefore is that the only thing that has changed in the intervening years is that the Guild has lost the courage to stand up to the bullies in the BDS campaign who, I note, refused to accept the fair and balanced decision of your Guild Summit to seek opportunities to educate your members about the issues. Instead you have chosen to shut down debate.

My concern is for the Jewish and Israeli students currently attending the University, who will now not be able to enjoy their time to the same extent I did, knowing that a core element of their identity is now outlawed from AND BY the Guild that is supposed to represent them and care for their welfare.

The stated Vision of the Guild of Students is “to improve, develop and enrich the lives of all students.”  I ask you a very simple question.  How does the adoption of BDS go any way towards improving, developing or enriching the lives of any student?  Doesn’t it simply worsen, damage and impoverish the lives of a group of students who ask only that they, alone amongst all the faiths, ethnicities and nationalities at the University, should not be singled out in this divisive and vindictive manner?

I call on the Guild to take a principled stand – against prejudice, against discrimination and for peace, reason and dialogue – by revoking this shameful policy immediately.

Until then, I remain ashamedly yours

Labenal (@GoonerEll)

Country Freedom Status Political Rights
1 (best) to 7 (worst)
Civil Rights
1 (best) to 7 (worst)
Algeria NOT free 6 5
Bahrain NOT free 7 6
Egypt NOT free 6 5
Iran NOT free 6 6
Iraq NOT free 6 6
ISRAEL Free 1 2
Jordan NOT free 6 5
Kuwait Partly free 5 5
Lebanon Partly free 5 4
Libya NOT free 6 6
Oman NOT free 6 5
Qatar NOT free 6 5
Saudi Arabia NOT free 7 7
Syria NOT free 7 7
Turkey Partly free 3 4
U.A.E. NOT free 6 6
Yemen NOT free 6 6

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