KCL Action Palestine Campaign against Ahava
Press Release: King’s College London Students Vote to End Research with Ahava
At its first meeting of the year on 20th October, the King’s College London Student Council voted overwhelmingly to condemn the involvement of the university in an EU-funded research project that also includes Ahava.
With 26 votes for, 5 abstentions and just 1 vote against, the councillors voted to “demand the immediate end of the university’s involvement in the project, and the rejection of the financial grant King’s has received for its participation,” in a margin of victory that surprised even the most optimistic campaigners. The students also voted to urge the university to re-evaluate its commitments to ethical research, and work towards establishing a formal ethical research policy.
The success at King’s follows a similar vote at the University of London Union (ULU) Senate meeting on 12th October, where senators passed a motion to “condemn in the strongest terms” the collaboration between King’s and Ahava, and to support the campaign launched by students and staff at the university. The margin of the vote was again outstanding – 9 votes for, 3 abstentions, and no votes against. ULU is the largest students’ union in Europe; any motion it passes, especially one concerning Israel-Palestine, is of great significance and sends out a clear message.
King’s College London is involved in NanoReTox, a research project under the guise of the European Commission and its Framework 7 research programme. Ahava is among the other partners in the project, as are Imperial, various other European universities, and the United States Geological Survey, which is part of the US Department of the Interior.
Ahava is a commercial cosmetics company whose premises are located on the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, around 10km inside occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank. The company is also partly owned by the council of this illegal settlement. The illegality of Israeli settlements inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) under international law is overwhelmingly accepted by the international community, under the Fourth Geneva Convention, UN Resolution 446, ICJ rulings, and the official positions of the EU and the UK government. By accruing profits from, extracting resources from, and sustaining itself on, an illegal settlement, Ahava is complicit with Israeli violations of international law. And by working with them, King’s has become a partner to this complicity.
We have received messages of support from students in Gaza, and our petition has been signed by more than 800 people so far, including Remi Kanazi, Ahdaf Soueif, Ali Abunimah, Jeremy Corbyn MP, and Professor Noam Chomsky, who also sent a short statement of support. The petition can be found here: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/petition-against-king-s-college-london-involvement-with.html. The official University and College Union (UCU) representative at King’s has also pledged his support for the campaign, and will work with us throughout its duration.
The overwhelmingly supportive stance of students and staff at King’s and beyond towards the campaign illustrates the legitimacy of its demands, and the illegitimacy of the university’s involvement with Ahava. We urge King’s to take this opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to ethical research and the integrity of international law.