TCD Students’ Union votes against boycott of Israel
Motion calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) comprehensively defeated
Last February, an event at Trinity involving the Israeli ambassador Ze’ev Boker was cancelled following a protest by 40 protesters from Students for Justice in Palestine (TCD). Photograph: Arianna Schadt/The University Times
The union’s student council voted by a significant majority not to support a motion which would see Trinity support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign called for by Palestinian civil society.
The council is made of class representatives and officers in the union. More than 100 students’ representatives voted on the motion.
It was brought in front of the council by Conor Reddy, the science class representative. It noted that the college had set a precedent by supporting the boycott of apartheid-era South Africa and should do the same for Israel.
The wide-ranging motion also called for Trinity to divest of university funds and terminate all contracts with companies “complicit in the occupation of Palestinian Territories and violation of Palestinian human rights more broadly”.
TCDSU president Kieran McNulty said the student council had taken the decision not to support the motion on the basis that it needed more consideration.
“I don’t think there were many people in that room who would disagree with supporting BDS. I think it was more about whether or not the students’ union should be campaigning about it. It was about the feasibility of the students’ union working on it.”
Mr McNulty said council members were worried about the scale of the proposed boycott and needed more information.
“If we are to have a vote on something like this, it should take place where we can have an informed debate on the subject and have clarity as to exactly what we are doing. I think this might be an issue for the student body votes on as opposed to the council.”
A spokeswoman for Trinity College Dublin (TCD) said it would be up to the board of the university and not the students’ union as to whether or not a college-wide boycott would be placed on Israel.
In February, a talk by the Israeli ambassador Ze’ev Boker was cancelled following a protest. Mr Boker was due to speak at a talk organised by the Society for International Affairs (Sofia).
The event was disrupted by a group of about 40 protesters from Students for Justice in Palestine (TCD) who demonstrated and chanted slogans outside the arts block venue where it was due to take place.
Trinity College Dublin provost Paddy Prendergast issued a strongly worded statement describing it as an “unacceptable attack on free speech”.
He criticised the protesters for preventing a guest from expressing his opinions. “This was most unfortunate and represents the antithesis of what Trinity stands for. Universities should be able to facilitate the exchange of ideas. The protesters have violated that fundamental belief.
“Trinity will remain a home for debate and we will do everything possible to make sure that efforts to suppress the free exchange of ideas do not succeed. I look forward to welcoming Ambassador Boker back to Trinity to speak again in the near future.”