The Board of Trustees of Aberdeen University Students Association (AUSA) has overturned a BDS policy passed at a General Meeting of the Association on 5 March 2019 “following legal advice”.
AUSA’s President has written to Jewish Society Treasurer, Marc Serpik, confirming that “the policy will not stand as an AUSA policy and this will be reported to the next Student Council meeting”.
The motion had set out a long series of false allegations against Israel before resolving to
“1) Publicly endorse and support the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and to explain this decision to students through an email to all students and on the union website.
2) Work with students to publish a report regarding academic, corporate and economic links between the student union and university with Israeli companies and institutions that participate in Israel’s violations of international law.
3) Lobby the University to sever all commercial or investment relationships with companies that participate or are invested in Israeli violations of international law, including Caterpillar, Rolls-Royce, HP and military companies that supply Israel such as BAE Systems. …”
Marc Serpik made a formal complaint with assistance from UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) pointing out that the motion was illegal since it committed AUSA to conduct a political campaign outside its charitable purposes as set out in its Constitution.
The letter drew attention to the Guidance of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator regarding political campaigns by charities and the decision of the Trustee Board of Edinburgh University Students Association that a BDS resolution passed by its Student Council could not lawfully be implemented.
The letter added that the AUSA policy was also racist in that it targeted Israel and no other country for a boycott. It drew attention to research in the US by the Amcha Initiative which showed that BDS activity against Israel is correlated with the targeting of Jewish students for harm. The policy would therefore prejudice one of AUSA’s charitable objects, namely “the promotion of religious and racial harmony”.
Marc Serpik thanked UKLFI, saying “This is in big part thanks to you and your support … It is people like you that devote themselves for a cause that help achieve things.”