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.
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.