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February 27, 2015

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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March 28, 2014

Update: BDS Resolutions Fail At Michigan And Loyola

Last week, we blogged about impending divestment resolutions on four U.S. college campuses. Two of those resolutions were voted on, and ultimately voted down, this week.

Here’s what happened:Michigan Divest

  • At the University of Michigan, a divestment resolution introduced by SAFE (Students Allied for Freedom and Equality) was defeated by a 25-9 vote and five abstentions by the Central Student Government (CSG). ADL praised the CSG for defeating the resolution and also spoke out against reports that CSG representatives were allegedly threatened and called anti-Semitic slurs such as “kike”’ and “dirty Jew.”
  • At Loyola University, the Student Senate held a second vote on SJP’s divestment resolution on Wednesday, March 25. The resolution initially passed with a 12-10 vote with and nine abstentions. The next day though, the President of Loyola’s United Student Government Association, Pedro Guerrero, vetoed the resolution, explaining his decision to do so on the grounds that the resolution “caused harm among the student community” and that “diversity of thought on campus was not taken into consideration.”

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March 21, 2014

Divestment Resolutions Abound on U.S. Campuses This Week

In the wake of Israeli Apartheid Week, which recently wrapped up after taking place on several dozen college campuses during the month of March, divestment resolutions were introduced on four U.S. college campuses this loyoladivestweek.

Here’s a rundown on the resolutions – two of which passed, two of which were held up – that were introduced this week:

Loyola University – Although the Loyola Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter had disseminated a petition urging the university to withdraw investments in five corporations, the campus was blindsided by the surprise introduction of a divestment resolution in  the Student Senate on Tuesday. The resolution, which passed by a vote of 26-0-2, had not previously been announced and students who sought to oppose it were not given the opportunity to express their perspective.

Arizona State University – Also on Tuesday, a resolution calling on Arizona State University (ASU) to divest from Caterpillar, which provides heavy machinery to the Israeli army, was tabled by the Undergraduate Student Government. The bill was introduced by the group “ASU Divest from Caterpillar Inc.” and it will reportedly be amended and reintroduced by ASU’s SJP chapter in the near future.

University of Michigan – The Central Student Government (CSG) was scheduled to vote on a divestment resolution initiated by the anti-Israel student group “Students Allied for Freedom and Equality” (SAFE). The meeting attracted an overwhelmingly large number of students and as the room became overcrowded, the meeting was moved to another location on campus where an announcement was made that the voting session would be postponed indefinitely. According to the Michigan Daily, the crowd then “pressed up against the stanchions dividing the room and chanted ‘Divest’ at the CSG members for several minutes.” In addition, more than 100 students gathered outside of the Michigan Union to rally in favor of divestment.

The following day, members of SAFE declared that they were conducting a “sit-in” near the student government offices until the CSG would hold a vote on their divestment resolution. The students  took over the space and refused to leave until they were told that they would be arrested. Reports on Twitter indicate that members of the group are currently reconvening for the third day of their “sit-in.”

San Diego State University – San Diego State University’s (SDSU) Student Diversity Commission passed a divestment resolution by a vote of 11-6-2 on March 19. The resolution now will reportedly be brought before the university council.

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