The UK’s University of Sussex has become infamous for a highly anti-Israel and far-left atmosphere. Despite this, Jewish and pro-Israel students were able to convince the Student Union there to stop a BDS resolution by a vote of 904 to 667. How did they accomplish this?
Campus leader Miriam Steiner told Ha’aretz: “We focused on highlighting those people [in Israel itself] working toward an end to [the] occupation. Academics are often the most progressive element of society, and it would not be of any use to the Palestinian cause to stifle that voice.”
Rather than explaining why BDS was offensive to Jews and destructive to the campus environment, the students at Sussex engaged in an honest, sincere, and genuine campaign. They explained that students in the UK needed to do what they could to help the situation, and a toothless endorsement of boycott that would never even be implemented wouldn’t make any difference on the ground in the Middle East. In contrast, they said that working together with pro-peace Israelis could make a very large difference and that is what the University of Sussex should do. In this way they were able to defeat the “international solidarity” argument posed by the boycotters, but focusing what positive impacts their fellow students could accomplish.