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Belgian student body overwhelmingly supports academic boycott of Israel

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THE HAGUE (JTA) — A Belgian student association voted in favor of an academic boycott of Israel.

In a vote last month, the general council of the Federation of French-speaking Students in Belgium, or FEF, adopted a motion calling for “a freezing of relations with Israeli universities,” the Belgian newspaper Le Soir reported Wednesday. The motion was supported by 85 percent of voters.

The resolution is not binding on Belgian institutions of higher education.

In an interview published Friday, FEF President David Mendez Yepez told Le Soir that his organization had kept the April 13 vote secret until now “to address people who would have been shocked or startled by our position.” Some 500 delegates voted, he said.

FEF represents some 100,000 students from 25 institutions.

FEF President David Mendez Yepez featured in a report in the newspaper Le Soir following FEF's decision to freeze communications with Israeli universities. (FEF Facebook)

FEF President David Mendez Yepez featured in a report in the newspaper Le Soir following FEF’s decision to freeze communications with Israeli universities. (FEF Facebook)

Citing “violations of various international law conventions committed by Israel,” the FEF motion states the “the time has come to sever ties with Israeli institutions of learning, be it through student exchanges or research.”

Maurice Sosnowski, president of the CCOJB umbrella organization representing French-speaking Jews in Belgium, slammed the vote.

“Isolating one party and preventing people from getting to know the other constitutes discrimination which runs contrary to the ethical, moral and educational role of the university,” he told the European Jewish Press.

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