Pro-Palestinian Lancaster students are calling for the uni to stop investing in Israel

The university has invested over £20,000 in companies which provide weapons used against Palestinians

Lancaster University students are protesting the “questionable investments” that the university has in Israel-linked companies.

Students supporting Palestine and condemning the Israeli government’s recent actions have been vocally protesting since the start of May. Posters in windows, rallies on town and campus and open letters have aimed to show solidarity with Palestinian students.

Pro-Palestine students from all backgrounds have renewed their calls for the university to end its financial investments in several companies whom they allege to be complicit in the ongoing Israeli apartheid against Palestine. These calls come amidst the ongoing surge in support for Palestinian justice.

An open letter and email template have recently been uploaded to aFriends of Palestine’ linktree, allowing students to send the university and Student Union management their opinion on the controversial arrangements.

Following the “Fight for Palestine” rally that occurred on May 22nd in Dalton Square, much attention was placed onto Lancaster University’s financial agreements with companies that have very direct links to the Israel-Palestine crisis, as they sell their resources and armaments to the Israeli military to be used against Palestinians.

The Lancaster Friends of Palestine society are proposing the university adopt a policy of boycotts (the intentional avoidance of specific products), divestment (the re-appropriation of funding to other sources) and sanctions (financial constraints), otherwise known as ‘BDS’.

Similar BDS proposals have been advocated for years by progressives, also aimed toward the humanitarian crisis created by Saudi Arabian war against Yemen.

Friends of Palestine state that the BDS movement “works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.”

A Freedom of Information act disclosed that the university has over £58,000 worth of investment in companies that are, in the words of the society, “complicit in funding Israeli apartheid.”

These investments are:

  • £12,868 to BAE Systems, who provide military equipment to the Israeli military.
  • £1,240 to Caterpillar, who supply demolition vehicles that are used to destroy Palestinian properties and infrastructure.
  • £6,614 to HSBC, who invest upwards of £800 million into companies that arm Israel.
  • £5,704 to G4S, who help to run Israeli prisons which hold Palestinians in inhumane conditions without trial.

One of the protestors, Jude Rowley, explained his stance: “We’re not necessarily saying to the university don’t invest in the industry. Instead, we’re just saying pick and choose who you invest in. For example, there are plenty of green technology firms – even in the Lancaster region – who are building and generating renewable energy.

“So why not invest in companies like that, that are making a positive difference, rather than companies that are selling weapons to make a profit? The divestment campaign isn’t aiming to say to the university: ‘stop investing, stop spending your money in all the portfolios you are invested in.’ We’re just calling on them to do that responsibly, rather than in a way that is having such a negative impact on the lives of many people.”

A spokesperson for Lancaster University said: “We appreciate this is an area of interest and concern. To ensure that the university remains consistent with its values and strategy, the University Finance and General Purpose Committee has reviewed its current investments and is moving over the next two months to invest in funds that offer ethical investments aligned to our new strategy.

“It is likely to be complete by July 2021. We continue to make progress with our policy to invest in companies actively looking for solutions to environmental challenges associated with growing populations, climate change and resources scarcity through innovation, technology and the intelligent use of natural resources.”