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February 27, 2015 1

College Campuses Continue To Face Divisive BDS Campaigns

Through­out the 2014–15 aca­d­e­mic year, a con­sor­tium of stu­dent groups have ini­ti­ated cam­paigns on cam­pus call­ing on their schools to divest from com­pa­nies that they believe either profit from or aid in the Israeli occupation.BDS-campus-anti-israel

The efforts are part of the larger Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) move­ment, a global effort to iso­late and pun­ish Israel because of its poli­cies toward the Pales­tini­ans. While sup­port­ers of the BDS move­ment claim to embrace the tac­tic as a non­vi­o­lent way to pres­sure Israel into nego­ti­a­tions, one of the prin­ci­pal com­po­nents of the cam­paign calls for a full and com­plete right of return for Pales­tini­ans which would result in a non-Jewish major­ity and erase the Jew­ish char­ac­ter of Israel. The BDS cam­paign is clearly a biased effort to demo­nize Israel and place the entire onus of the con­flict on the Jew­ish state.

While these ini­tia­tives have failed to have any prac­ti­cal out­comes in terms of uni­ver­sity invest­ment poli­cies, it can­not be ignored that some have had a divi­sive and cor­ro­sive effect on the cam­pus cli­mate. On some cam­puses, divest­ment ini­tia­tives have left Jew­ish and pro-Israel stu­dents feel­ing belea­guered and iso­lated. Other stu­dents report a tense atmos­phere on cam­puses where stu­dents and stu­dent lead­ers are pres­sured to “choose sides” on a con­flict they know lit­tle about.

So far this aca­d­e­mic year, nearly 300 anti-Israel events have been sched­uled, with about 40% of them focused on BDS cam­paigns. In addi­tion, BDS res­o­lu­tions have been voted in stu­dent gov­ern­ment on or ini­ti­ated by anti-Israel stu­dent groups on 11 campuses.

In the com­ing weeks, addi­tion BDS activ­ity will be coor­di­nated on cam­pus as part of the eleventh annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), which began on Feb­ru­ary 23 and is sched­uled to run through March. IAW Events have been sched­uled on at least 25 col­lege cam­puses in the U.S. thus far. Some cam­puses are sched­uled to host pre­sen­ta­tions on top­ics such as the false Gaza-Ferguson anal­ogy and oth­ers will set up mock “apartheid walls” on their cam­puses, and/or dis­trib­ute mock “evic­tion notices.”

Below is a list of cur­rent cam­pus BDS cam­paigns and res­o­lu­tions which have been voted on:

  • North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity – The North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity stu­dent gov­ern­ment passed a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion sub­mit­ted by the student-group NU Divest on Wednes­day, Feb­ru­ary 18, 2015. The vote was 24–22-3.
  • Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity – The Under­grad­u­ate Sen­ate of Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity passed a BDS res­o­lu­tion sub­mit­ted by the student-group Stan­ford out of Occu­pied Pales­tine on Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 17, 2015. The vote on the res­o­lu­tion was 10–4-1.
  • Uni­ver­sity of Toledo – The Uni­ver­sity of Toledo stu­dent gov­ern­ment ruled that a BDS res­o­lu­tion sub­mit­ted by the cam­pus Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine chap­ter was uncon­sti­tu­tional on Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 17, 2015.
  • Uni­ver­sity of California-Davis – The UC Davis Stu­dent Sen­ate passed a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion that was sub­mit­ted by the cam­pus Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine chap­ter on Thurs­day, Jan­u­ary 29, 2015. The vote on the res­o­lu­tion was 8–2-2, but it was chal­lenged and over­turned by the student-led Court of Asso­ci­ated Stu­dents, which is beyond the juris­dic­tion of the Stu­dent Senate.
  • United Auto Work­ers (UAW) 2865 – The Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Stu­dent Work­ers Union (UAW 2865) endorsed a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion on Thurs­day, Decem­ber 4, 2014 call­ing on the UC Board of Regents to divest from com­pa­nies that are allegedly prof­it­ing from or aid­ing in the Israeli occu­pa­tion. The res­o­lu­tion also called for an end of U.S. aid to Israel and for UAW Inter­na­tional to divest from the same cor­po­ra­tions. The vote was 1411–749.
  • Uni­ver­sity of California-Los Ange­les - On Tues­day, Novem­ber 18, 2014, the UCLA stu­dent gov­ern­ment endorsed a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion that was sub­mit­ted by the cam­pus Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine chap­ter. The vote on the res­o­lu­tion was 8–2-2.

Below is a list of BDS cam­paigns cur­rently tak­ing place:

  • Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan –  The student-group Stu­dents Allied for Free­dom and Equal­ity (SAFE) at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan announced plans to ini­ti­ate a divest­ment cam­paign called “#UMDi­vest” on Feb­ru­ary 18, 2015. To go along with this, they are host­ing a BDS sym­po­sium to dis­cuss the cam­paign, read the res­o­lu­tion, and answer ques­tions from the audience.
  • Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton – The Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter announced plans to ini­ti­ate a BDS cam­paign on Feb­ru­ary 12, 2015. The group spon­sored a pro-BDS demon­stra­tion on their cam­pus that day where the cam­paign was announced.
  • Ohio State Uni­ver­sity – A newly-founded group called Ohio State Uni­ver­sity Divest (OSU Divest) started a divest­ment cam­paign on Jan­u­ary 29, 2015. They announced their cam­paign through a press release and state that they were call­ing on the Uni­ver­sity to divest from com­pa­nies that allegedly harm and/or profit from harm­ing Palestinians.
  • San Diego State Uni­ver­sity – SDSU Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine launched a divest­ment cam­paign and new group called San Diego State Uni­ver­sity Divest (SDSU Divest) on Jan­u­ary 25, 2015. To go along with the cam­paign, they have been cir­cu­lat­ing a peti­tion to cur­rent stu­dents, alumni, fac­ulty, staff, and com­mu­nity mem­bers that calls for divest­ment “from com­pa­nies that profit from vio­lence against the Palestinians.”
  • Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Florida – The Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Florida SJP chap­ter put up a pro-BDS bill­board near cam­pus to claim that 10,000 stu­dents were silenced because BDS was not enforced by the Uni­ver­sity Admin­is­tra­tion after the group allegedly col­lected 10,000 sig­na­tures call­ing on the uni­ver­sity to divest from cor­po­ra­tions that allegedly profit from the Israeli occupation.

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January 30, 2015 5

BDS Passed at UC Davis, Other BDS Campaigns Also Occurring

Last night at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis, a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion was passed by The Asso­ci­ated Stu­dents, Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia (ASUCD) with a vote of 8–2-2. The res­o­lu­tion, which calls on the UC Board of Regents to divest from com­pa­nies that allegedly “aid in the Israeli occu­pa­tion of Pales­tine and ille­gal set­tle­ments in Pales­tin­ian ter­ri­to­ries,” tar­gets spe­cific cor­po­ra­tions such as Cater­pil­lar, G4S, Veo­lia Envi­ron­ment and Raytheon.

Students from Davis Divest celebrate after their BDS resolution was passed with an 8-2-2 vote.

Stu­dents from Davis Divest cel­e­brate after their BDS res­o­lu­tion was passed with an 8–2-2 vote.

Sev­eral other Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions cam­paigns are simul­ta­ne­ously occur­ring on other col­lege cam­puses across the U.S. This is con­sis­tent with our pre­dic­tions in our “Anti-Israel Activ­ity on Cam­pus After Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge” report about upcom­ing chal­lenges on cam­puses where student-groups are look­ing to con­vince their uni­ver­si­ties to divest from cor­po­ra­tions that they believe per­pet­u­ate or profit from the Israeli occupation.

In some cases, new stu­dent groups have been founded to launch these cam­paigns and in other cases, estab­lished anti-Israel stu­dent groups such as Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP), have taken the lead. In many cases, these stu­dent groups have attempted to form part­ner­ships with other groups on their cam­puses to build broad coali­tions and to latch onto other social jus­tice causes. For exam­ple, these groups have spon­sored events such as “From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine and the Wall,” which took place in mid-January at Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity and described as an oppor­tu­nity to “dis­cuss the specifics and con­nec­tions between the move­ments for jus­tice in Fer­gu­son, the US-Mexico Bor­der and Palestine.”

Dur­ing the first semes­ter of the cur­rent aca­d­e­mic year, the UCLA SJP chap­ter was able to get “A Res­o­lu­tion to Divest from Cor­po­ra­tions Engaged in Vio­lence Against Pales­tini­ans” passed by their stu­dent gov­ern­ment. The res­o­lu­tion, which was spon­sored by 15 stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions and endorsed by another 17, was voted on with an 8–2-2 mar­gin. In addi­tion, at the end of last semes­ter, the UC Student-Workers Union, UAW Local 2865, voted in favor of a res­o­lu­tion urg­ing the UC Board of Regents to join the BDS move­ment against Israel.

In addi­tion to UC Davis, there are another six cam­puses in the U.S. that are cur­rently engaged in BDS cam­paigns. Below is a run­down of their activ­i­ties:  

  1. DePaul Uni­ver­sity – The DePaul Divest coali­tion sub­mit­ted a request to the Fair Busi­ness Prac­tices Com­mit­tee (FBPC) to uphold a deci­sion made last spring when DePaul stu­dents voted on a ref­er­en­dum in favor of divest­ment dur­ing Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment elec­tions. The com­pa­nies that they were tar­get­ing for divest­ment included Hewlett-Packard, Boe­ing, Lock­heed Mar­tin, Veo­lia, and Cater­pil­lar, but the pro­posal was report­edly rejected by the FBPC.
  1. North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity – A newly-founded group called NU Divest has been host­ing pro-BDS events to inform their student-body about BDS and they are plan­ning to sub­mit a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion for vote to their stu­dent gov­ern­ment at some point this semester.
  1. Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity – A new stu­dent group called Stan­ford Out of Occu­pied Pales­tine has been host­ing pro-BDS events on cam­pus and plans to sub­mit a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion to their stu­dent gov­ern­ment this semester.
  1. SDSU – A group call­ing itself SDSU Divest recently launched a divest­ment cam­paign and has been cir­cu­lat­ing a peti­tion to cur­rent stu­dents, alumni, fac­ulty, staff, and com­mu­nity mem­bers that calls for divest­ment “from com­pa­nies that profit from vio­lence against the Pales­tini­ans.” The group is also host­ing its “First Open Forum for Divest­ment” next Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 3.
  1. Uni­ver­sity of South Florida – The USF SJP chap­ter recently put a bill­board up near their cam­pus that claims that “10,000 stu­dents were silenced” and calls on USF to divest from cor­po­ra­tions allegedly prof­it­ing from the Israeli occu­pa­tion. They claim that stu­dents were silenced because the uni­ver­sity did not pur­sue divest­ment after they cir­cu­lated a pro-BDS peti­tion that report­edly received over 10,000 signatures.
  1. Ohio State Uni­ver­sity – A newly-founded group called OSU Divest started a divest­ment cam­paign on their cam­pus and dis­sem­i­nated a press release which calls for OSU to divest from com­pa­nies that allegedly “engage in or oth­er­wise profit from poli­cies that oppress and mar­gin­al­ize Palestinians.”

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March 1, 2012 1

Attempts to Silence Pro-Israel Voices on Campus Continue

Recent dis­rup­tions of pro-Israel events on cam­pus illus­trate the con­tin­u­ing use of tac­tics intended to silence Israeli voices and the expres­sion of pro-Israel views.
On Feb­ru­ary 27, Stu­dents from the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia — Davis chap­ter of Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) staged a walk­out dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion by for­mer sol­diers who served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). One stu­dent defi­antly stood up and shouted obscen­i­ties at the speak­ers, claim­ing that Israel has “turned the land of Pales­tine into a land of pros­ti­tutes and rapists and child moles­ters,” and harassed the speaker, ask­ing him, “How many women have you raped? How many chil­dren have you raped? You are a child moles­ter.” Dur­ing his out­burst, the heck­ler defended his actions as a free speech right yet noted, “My only pur­pose today is that this event is shut down,” an obvi­ously ironic use of free speech rights.  
SAFE rep­re­sen­ta­tives prior to Feb. 21 walkout
A dis­rup­tion also occurred the next day at UCLA when dozens of SJP mem­bers with duct tape fas­tened to their mouths and signs read­ing “Silenced” walked out in the mid­dle of an IDF soldier’s presentation.
On Feb­ru­ary 21, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from SAFE (Stu­dents Allied for Free­dom and Equal­ity), an anti-Israel group at Michi­gan State Uni­ver­sity, staged a sim­i­lar walk­out of a speech fea­tur­ing for­mer Israeli soldiers.
While the sol­diers were able to fin­ish their pre­sen­ta­tions in all three cases, these inci­dents illus­trate an unwill­ing­ness by anti-Israel groups and indi­vid­u­als to allow the pro-Israel voice a space to be heard, an unfor­tu­nate posi­tion given that col­lege cam­puses should serve as a venue for the free exchange of ideas, not a place to “shut down” views one may dis­agree with.
The strat­egy first began in earnest in the 2009–2010 school year with loud dis­rup­tions of, among oth­ers, speeches by for­mer Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert at the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago and Israeli Ambas­sador Michael Oren at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine.

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