Protesters met on Saturday the 6th of January at Piccadilly Gardens to protest the arrest of Ahed Tamimi and raise awareness of the wider campaign ‘Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions’ (BDS).
Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old Palestinian activist, has been detained and charged with assault following a confrontation with two Israeli soldiers. She was arrested during a raid of her family’s premises after a video showing her slap an armed Israeli soldier went viral. According to The Independent, the charge sheet against Ahed includes ‘counts of aggravated assault against a soldier…obstructing soldier in the performance of his duty, and throwing stones at troops.’
Huda Ammori, a member of BDS University of Manchester, says she doesn’t believe Ahed should be detained at all. She defends Ahed’s actions, noting in particular how Ahed’s cousin had been shot in the head only moments before the video was taken.
When asked why student’s at the University of Manchester should be aware of Ahed’s detainment, Huda said ‘all students and people of conscience’ should be aware of the ‘university’s investment in Israel’s war crimes.’ Another student at the protest was also concerned that her tuition fees were contributing to the occupation.
After meeting in Piccadilly Gardens, the protest moved to outside Barclays bank. Part of the wider BDS campaign has involved a boycott of Barclays and HSBC. Barclays currently invest in BAE systems, who provide aircraft components to Israel. HSBC currently hold shares in Israeli arms company Elbit systems.
Adie Nistelrooy, who helped organise the protest, encouraged people to join the boycott. He talked of being in Gaza and seeing people being ‘dragged from the rubble,’ stating ‘the connect’ between these scenes and the investments made by HSBC and Barclays, ‘was very real’.
Huda said the boycott was a ‘non-violent means of pressuring Israel’. But specified, that if you were an HSBC or Barclays customer, this didn’t mean you had to leave the bank. ‘If you’re a customer, complain … or engage with them on social media.’
Huda then shared BDS Manchester’s plans for the future. She said ‘the number one goal’ was to pressure the University to divest from Caterpillar, who provide armoured bulldozers to Israel. They will also be launching a campaign against the university’s ties with Technion Israel Institute of Technology. According to Huda, these ties go ‘against Manchester’s own social responsibility code’ and said the ‘BDS campaign will continue until all links with Israel’s war crimes have ended.’
According to a document provided by BDS, “the University of Manchester invests approximately £2,113,435.79 in Caterpillar – according to the no. of shares (24900) invested and the share price ($107.49) at the end of the Fiscal year 2016.”
“By knowingly and consistently providing equipment used to enact systematic human rights violations, Caterpillar is complicit in these violations, as a co-actor in Israel’s actions. In doing so, Caterpillar are a company that exhibits corporate behaviour that amounts to:
- Human rights violations
- Racial or sexual discrimination
- The institutionalisation of poverty through discriminatory market practices.
- Armament sales to military regimes”
The above are listed as Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) issues the University seeks to minimise in corporate behaviour as part of their social responsibility code.
Despite these allegations, a University spokesperson said: ‘We do not believe any of our current investments or partnerships are in breach of our Socially Responsible Investment Policy’.
Huda Ammori encourages students to get involved with the BDS campaign by watching out for events, such as Israel Apartheid week, and by sharing the hashtag #UoMDivestNow.