Cambridge students to begin vote on company with Israeli settlement ties
Students at Cambridge will start voting Friday in a referendum calling on the University to cut ties with a company implicated in Israeli human rights abuses.
The referendum, scheduled for 21-24 October, calls on CUSU (Cambridge University Students Union) to campaign to have the University cut ties with Veolia, a company involved in infrastructure projects in Israeli settlements, and employed by the University on a waste disposal contract.
This week, the campaign received letters of support from the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees, and from a group of more than 25 Cambridge academics.1
The letter from Palestinian academics said: "As Palestinian academics, we are aware that universities are never separable from their political circumstances. Palestinian universities are regularly attacked by the IDF. Israeli universities directly contribute to the occupation through military research and development. By retaining a contract with Veolia, Cambridge is also implicated in Israel’s crimes. Dropping the contract would not be an inappropriate political intervention, but a rectification of one. Cambridge can live up to its reputation as an internationally leading institution by refusing ties with Veolia, leading the way against Israeli organizations that trample Palestinian human rights."
The letter from Cambridge academics said: “In choosing to employ Veolia for its waste management, the University poses a serious ‘reputational risk’ to itself. The University’s employment of Veolia for waste management makes dubious its claims of being committed to ethical conduct.”
Veolia's activities in the West Bank include bus and light rail services and the Tovlan Landfill site, all serving illegal Israeli settlements. In recent years, the international community has targeted Veolia as a company profiting from the Israeli occupation. Veolia has lost contracts worth more than €10 billion since 2005,2 including, just a few months ago, a £300 million contract in Ealing, London.3 The actions against Veolia are part of a broader international campaign following the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israeli companies and institutions.4
The Cambridge Campaign has detailed information on its website, including a point-by-point rebuttal to the No Campaign's “falsehoods, insinuations made in bad faith, and sleights of hand.”5
- Full text of the letters is available at http://cambridgebinveolia.
content/french-giant-veolia- cut-down-size-abusing- palestinian-rights/10316#. To7D_5viEVU
- See http://www.bigcampaign.org/
wordpress.com/2011/10/19/ rebutting-the-arguments-by- the-no-campaign/