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Jews Lash Out Against Recognition of BDS as Student Forum

Jewish leaders denounced the Free University of Brussels for recognizing BDS as a legitimate student forum.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 6/6/2012, 2:44 AM

Israeli tomatoes
Israeli tomatoes
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The president of the Committee of the Coordination of Jewish Organizations in Belgium (CCOJB) denounced the Free University of Brussels (ULB) for recognizing the Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions movement against Israel as a legitimate student forum.

While the proposal was submitted about a year ago, it was recently included in the agenda of a Board meeting held on 21st May 2012. A debate was held with the majority of Board member voting in favor of recognizing BDS as a ULB student framework.

“I don’t understand the attitude of the administrative council,” Maurice Sosnowski, head of the CCOJB, told the Belgian daily La Libre, according to The European Jewish Press.

“This decision calls ULB’s credibility into question, as it is the sole European institution to have admitted a BDS presence in its walls,” he said. “Not even Great Britain and Ireland have taken such negative steps. I would add that it’s not really an organization, but a local branch of an international movement. Its creation was not at all accidental and was purely politically driven. We are far from having open debates (there) and rather in an isolated position.”

Sosnowski condemned the university saying, “Two years ago, BDS requested a stand at a welcome reception for students, but the Vice-Chancellor refused them at the time.” He added that, “in Belgium there is no longer an anti-boycott law, as opposed to in France where even (far-left wing anti-Israel politician) Martine Aubry has taken a firm stand against the boycott”.

“Few people at ULB seem to know that 39 Nobel Prize winners of different origins have spoken out against the BDS movement,” he continued. “The idea of an academic boycott is the worst thing to present itself in a university that wishes to have world-wide appeal. It is even worse considering that (Flemish Prime Minister) Kris Peeters is leading the Vice-Chancellors of Flemish universities in a trip to Israel to prepare for increased bilateral relations (with Israeli institutions). It’s not really the time for ULB to distance itself from its Israel counterparts”.