Today 18th of February 2008, in the third Student Union council meeting, Sussex University Student’s Union officers have voted numerously in favour of a motion that resolves to boycott Carmel Agrexco agricultural products in union outlets and its sponsored market. The motion was proposed by the Friends of Palestine society, which has been campaigning tirelessly for years to demonstrate moral and practical solidarity with the Palestinian people and Palestinian students in particular.
Last year, after the cross campus referendum saw a majority of votes in favour, the union endorsed a twinning initiative between University of Sussex Student Union (USSU) and Al-Quds Open University Student Union in Tubas, Palestine. The motion noted that Agrexco is responsible for 60-70% of all settlement produce sold abroad, primarily selling produce from illegal settlements in the Jordan Valley, and is 50% owned by the Israeli state; and that the Palestinian villages of Al-Hadidiya and Humza in the Jordan Valley were bulldozed in August 2007 leaving families homeless, to expand settlement agricultural activities for Carmel Agrexco.
Sussex University has recently been granted fair trade status and today’s resolution will enhance the ethical practices which Sussex student demand. The passing of the motion also represents integrity as up until yesterday the union shops which sold goods exported by Carmel Agrexco made the students complicit in the dispossession of the very students they had twinned with.
Many of the students in Tubas work on land from which their parents were expulsed and under conditions that violate European Human Rights Legislation, a clause integral to the EU-Israel Trade agreement that Carmel Agrexco violates by labelling produce from the illegally occupied West Bank as “Israel”.
A Sussex humanities student member of the Jewish Society commented:“It has been argued that this motion might put Jewish students on campus in an awkward position. I personally don’t understand why I would feel awkward being a Jewish student after such a decision that clearly states this university is progressive and stays attentive to what is happening in the world.”
In today’s meeting 14 member of USSU council voted in favour of the motion, whilst three other members choose to abstain, no against votes have been registered, making it an overwhelming consensus among the highest decision making body within the Student Union.