The New Campus BDS Strategy: Attacking Jewish Student Organizations

July 17, 2018 | Kenneth Waltzer
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Over the course of the last year, notes Kenneth Waltzer, the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS) appears to have shifted its approach at colleges and universities, perhaps because of its failure to convince university administrators to boycott the Jewish state. Its main campus collaborator, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), has instead set about ostracizing Jewish student groups, often in the name of “intersectionality.” Waltzer writes:

The SJP strategy [is] to build alliances of progressive and minority groups on each campus and . . . emphasize “intersectionality” (highlighting the linkages among all forms of oppression), identity politics, and the mobilization of multicultural coalitions for BDS goals. This means excluding Jewish students presumed to support Israel as well as Jewish institutions supporting Israel, such as Hillel. . . .

[Thus] Jews are now automatically to be excluded from [working with] progressive groups for popular causes; they are thought of as “privileged” or “white,” and therefore ineligible for membership in coalitions [of “minorities”]. Of Jews specifically, it is said by SJP and others that they are a group that does not face and never has faced oppression like that faced by people of color—an astounding bit of erasure and revision. Jews, it is repeated on campus, are powerful and wield great influence. Jewish students [are therefore] subjected to political litmus tests before being permitted entry to progressive coalitions. “Good Jews,” those aloof from Israel, can participate; others, “bad Jews,” Israel supporters, are to be separated and shunned.

As a noteworthy example, the resolution for divestment [from Israel] introduced at the University of Michigan . . . insisted on the necessity of assisting Palestinian students to be heard and to feel included in the multicultural mix. [The resolution thus states that while] “the university continually expresses its commitment to efforts of equity and inclusion that provide underrepresented students an environment ‘where every individual feels a sense of belonging and inclusion,’ . . . Palestinian students, as a minority group on campus, receive neither the university’s full support nor the benefits of its plan to foster a more inclusive climate, so long as a proportion of the endowment is invested by the university in companies that violate Palestinian human rights in Israel.” . . .

In other words, the resolution claims that Palestinians cannot feel included unless Israel is excluded. And from here it’s an easy step to replace “Israel” with “Jews”:

Finally, at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, SJP students demanded that the campus Hillel be replaced by a “proper Jewish organization.” Such an organization should not be a Zionist one; it should focus on observing the Sabbath and holidays but not offer support to a Jewish homeland. These students also characterized Jews as “oppressors.” When the chaplain for the Muslim Students Association, Saana Nadim, called on the SJP students to abandon their “agenda of hate and alienation,” and in a brave interfaith statement forthrightly defended Hillel, SJP attacked the Muslim chaplain, accusing her of working with Zionists.

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