A north-east MP has criticised an Aberdeen University student body’s motion to boycott Israeli products- saying it will have a “severe impact” on the institution.
Leaked correspondence from Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine Conservative Andrew Bowie – an alumnus of the institution who also ran to be rector last year – to Aberdeen University Student Association (AUSA) has emerged.
The member of the Conservative Friends of Israel group wrote following the passing of a motion at an AUSA meeting calling for support for the ‘boycott, divest and sanctions’ movement which aims to weaken the Middle Eastern state.
Under the terms of the motion, the student body will lobby the university to “sever” all commercial ties with firms that “that participate or are invested in Israeli violations of international law” or are “affiliated with Israel’s regime” among other points.
But the call comes at a time of growing concerns about anti-Semitic feeling in universities – with the University of Essex recently suspending a lecturer over allegedly offensive posts online.
The letter reads: “A boycott, divestment and sanctions motion being passed is a deeply disturbing development which I was most disappointed to hear about.
“To say that I am worried about the message this sends to Jewish students, both current and future would be an understatement.
“This new university policy could have a severe negative impact on the young Jewish population within Aberdeen and indeed the university’s reputation as well.
“I feel such a motion, clearly designed to highlight a political protest against Israel, is nothing short of discrimination against the Jewish population within the population and beyond.
“As you will be aware, members of parliament from across the political spectrum are fighting hard to root out anti-Semitism from politics.
“It is deeply troubling to think that this anti- Israel and anti- Semitic ‘disease’ could be spreading to universities as well, especially one I’m an alumnus of.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Tories last night said the party did not comment on private correspondence.
A university spokesman said: “While this is a matter for AUSA, as an educational establishment with an international outlook we are committed to facilitating debate on the big challenges facing the world today, while ensuring that all perspectives can be exchanged in a safe and respectful environment.”
AUSA was contacted for comment.