University of Manchester students protested against Apartheid in Israel yesterday
Pressure has been mounting on UoM to divest from Caterpillar
Students protested on University of Manchester campuses yesterday against UoM's continued investment in Caterpillar.
Currently, The University of Manchester is estimated to hold £2,114,435.97 worth of shares in Caterpillar, an American company that supplies the Israeli army with weaponry.
The protests come during Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual series of lectures and protests held by the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.
Students from the BDS movement and UoM Fossil Free campaign also stormed a Board of Governers meeting four weeks ago, where they demanded UoM divest from their investments in companies that provide support to Israel.
Emilia Micunovic, chair of the BDS campaign at University of Manchester, said: "As students, we do not want our tuition fees invested in war and apartheid, and we should have the right to a voice in our institutions’ investment and partnership policies. We reject many UK universities’ hypocritical and shallow attempts to appear 'socially responsible' whilst funding, facilitating or supporting Israel’s military occupation."
Huda Ammori, Campaigns Officer of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: "Israeli Apartheid Week is an opportunity for us to amplify the voices of the Palestinian people and strengthen our movement which stands in full solidarity with them. The global community has a responsibility to hold Israel to account for its criminal actions, and universities are no exception. Students are doing vital work in highlighting complicity with Israeli apartheid on their campuses."
In response to the BDS student protest in Manchester, Ben Freeman, President of Manchester Jewish Society said: "It is deeply misleading to suggest that Israel (a country whose governing assembly has more Muslim/Arab representatives than the US Congress, despite being just one fifth of the size) is an apartheid regime.
"Israel Apartheid Week does nothing to promote healthy discussion on campus of the legitimate ways in which Israeli government policy can and should be criticised, but instead it perpetuates an echo chamber culture that breeds hateful and dogmatic prejudice against the worlds only Jewish state. Israel is the only state in the Middle East that has been assigned the status of being 'Free' by Freedom House – a non-partisan group that monitors political, human and civil rights around the world.
"In addition, Apartheid Week weaponizes a term that depicts a horrific historical injustice that took place in South Africa and falsely imposes that on Israel, an insult both to the actual term 'Apartheid' but also to the freedom that Israel does provide for its citizens in a region dogged by incomparably non-free nations."
Meanwhile, other students in Manchester are honouring Celebrating Israel Week, starting dialogues about Israel's story and creating "challenging and meaningful conversations".
In a public Facebook post, Harry Saul Markham, Founder of Essex Friends of Israel and Zionist Future and Acting National Director of Herut UK said: "Herut UK visited Manchester University and worked with Manchester Jsoc on day three of Celebrating Israel Week. We had three hours of challenging yet meaningful conversations and a lot of humantashans, too!
"There was an Israel Apartheid Week demonstration occuring at the same time. We were at first surrounded by Palestinian flags and it ended with their demonstrators eating bamba and hummantashan with us, engaging with our narrative in a respectful manner and leaving by hugging each other and wishing one another peace."