Further to this post, the Student Union meeting went ahead a couple of weeks back, and I went to have a look. After an interesting but superficial debate about the merits and dangers of the SU becoming a trust, the motion to include Israeli institutions in the Palestinian twinning initiative was tabled.
The turn-out was enormous (around 140, I think) which was attributed to this debate. As I said before, there had been a poster campaign to improve turn-out and squash the tripletting idea. The proposer of the tripletting motion, Y, spoke constructively. This was followed by an eloquent speech against from a member of my institution’s Respect party who is a Union Officer, which presented tripletting as undoing all the prior hard work to build a relationship with Nablus, pronounced that carrying it would mean that everything had to start from scratch, and claimed that since every Palestinian institution except one was currently boycotting Israel it would be wrong to compromise this. This was false, wrong and a big flaw in her argument but I thought I should shut up being staff (at least one staff member I know agrees about this though BF, a PhD student who teaches, thinks otherwise).
Two more speakers for and against followed – the For speaker was armed with facts and statistics but these seemed to fall on stoney ground, whereas the Against speaker spoke of Palestinian suffering and was well received. Everyone voted to hear another round of speakers, both of whom were persuasive – the Against speaker said that we must not allow the Palestinians to feel abandoned (heartfelt, but on examination what has this to do with excluding Israel?) and the For speaker talked about building trust. The phrases “building bridges” and “human trust” were enthusiastically received by the assembly, irrespective of who said them. The Union President is against including Israel she made a vague address about longing to speak to those who were not yet converted, but also feeling that there was no way to do this at the current time.
Y’s motion fell, though to his credit he got about a quarter of the votes, including a large proportion of the SU execs.