Campuses Mull Israeli Boycott/BDS Movement Participation

(Photo: Montecruz Foto, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Montecruz Foto, Creative Commons)

Colleges across the United States are considering whether to participate in the worldwide Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in an effort to end the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.

The focus of the movement is to put an end to funding international and Israeli companies that advocates say violate Palestine’s human and civil rights, in addition to ending any and all future communication with these companies. In addition, the movement is pushing for schools such as NYU to close their campuses located in Israeli cities like Tel Aviv and Haifa.

NYU is the only private university to date that has had their graduate student union consider joining BDS. David Klassen, a fourth year Ph.D. student at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, said he hopes others will be soon to follow.

“We’ll signal to other people that this is something that has momentum and we’ll see other universities other unions, other student groups take similar steps,” Klassen said.

The NYU Graduate School Organizing Committee has gathered signatures from 10% of its members in support of holding the referendum. The GSOC assembly of stewards has also planned a series of town hall discussion events. All groups and organizations within GSOC will have the opportunity to voice their opinions at these events prior to an April vote on whether or not GSOC should participate in the movement, reports Olivia Roos for Washington Square News.

Arguments concerning the Israel-Palestine conflict are ongoing in Ohio as well, with student governments at Capital and Ohio State Universities considering several resolutions. One such measure is currently being pushed by Republican Reps. Steve Stivers, Pat Tiberi and Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty that would divest the universities from three companies that are believed to have involvement in Israeli punishment and isolation of Palestinians in the West Bank, reports Mary Mogan Edwards for The Columbus Dispatch.

Similar measures are being considered by the state. One of which, House Bill 476, would deny state contracts to any company that supports a boycott of Israel. Rep. Kirk Schuring, part of a Statehouse delegation that traveled to Israel, said he considers it “a bright and shining star that we should look to” because it serves as “a prospering, flourishing oasis in the Middle East.”

Meanwhile, members of the Jewish Voice for Peace, who stand in support of Palestinian rights, met on the Ohio State campus to protest the anti-BDS movement, which includes Shuring’s bill. The group argues that the bill would suppress a constitutional right to protest through boycott. “It is something you have to do at times,” said Farrell Brody, an organizer of the protest. “It’s a nonviolent means of pushing for justice.”

In California, University administrators have stayed away from the identification and condemnation of anti-Semitic behavior and speech that occur on campus. However, as the State Department implements a new working definition of the “principles of intolerance,” school officials will now be able to stand up against such behavior. In the past, writes Richard L. Cravatts for the Gatestone Institute, they were either unwilling or unable to do so.