Gulf BDS groups target British universities over war on Gaza

Gulf CAN say their initiative has cost British universities losses of £600,000 so far [GETTY]

A pro-Palestine coalition group based in the Gulf states has launched a campaign to boycott universities in Britain that are allegedly contributing to what they call the genocide in Gaza.

The Gulf Coalition Against Normalization (Gulf CAN) is calling on students not to enrol in the targeted universities, contracted agents to terminate relationships and ministries of education to remove the universities from scholarships and end their relations with arms companies that supply weapons to Israel and withdraw their investments.

Gulf CAN is an umbrella organisation comprised of activist groups from Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. It aims to coordinate campaigns within the Gulf states to “resist Zionism” and normalisation with Israel within the region.

“British universities are not only complicit in refusing to acknowledge the genocide in Gaza, but also play a direct role in financing and developing weapons supplied to the Zionist occupation army,” the statement reads.

Gulf CAN is calling on local education stakeholders to boycott the following list of UK universities: Newcastle University, University of Liverpool, University of Nottingham, University of Leeds, Northumbria University, Queen Mary University of London, University of Portsmouth, University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and Coventry University.

The institutions on Gulf CAN’s list have invested over £34 million in Israel-linked companies, according to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

“These universities take an explicit position in protecting the occupation by suppressing demonstrations by students demanding an end to their participation in the genocide in Gaza,” the statement adds, highlighting that “the suppression has included the use of physical violence, sexual harassment, and the removal of the hijab”.

The organisation says the universities have lost £600,000 due to their campaign so far, noting that scholarship programmes and partnerships with local universities in the Gulf are an “indispensable source of income for British universities.”

The British Council found that Gulf countries, including Kuwait and Qatar, are among the largest markets for sponsored UK study visas in 2018. The UK saw an almost six percent increase in T4 visas from Kuwait.

At the same time, the UK remained Bahrain’s number one destination for students leaving the country, with over 15,000 students.

Universities across the globe, especially institutions in Britain, have been facing pressure to divest from companies linked to Israel with protests and encampments.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) found that UK Universities collectively invest almost £430 million in companies complicit in the state’s war on Gaza, which has since killed over 38,000 Palestinians.

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