BDS Hotlist - April

Monday, April 25, 2016 - 2:01pm
BDS Hotlist: April 2016

Supporters of the Jewish State suffered a serious blow over the past week, as two major educational institutions passed pro-BDS (Boycotss, Sanctions, and Divestments movement) measures, and another is scheduled to vote on an academic divestment resolution on Friday. It seems that colleges and universities have become the breeding ground for BDS, as more and more student governments vote on resolutions to boycott Israel.


Meanwhile, positive developments continued on the state level here in the US, as another state legislature passed an anti-BDS measure in the past month. One of the largest states in the country -- that also has one of the biggest populations of Jews outside of Israel -- is also considering an anti-BDS measure in the coming days. Meanwhile, a highly prominent Congressman took a trip to Israel where they expressed solidarity with the Jewish State a couple of weeks ago.


Find out which congress member visited Israel and learn more about the global fight against BDS by reading on below:

International Political Arena
US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan visited Israel earlier this month with a bipartisan delegation comprised of seven congressmen from across the country. During the visit, Ryan reaffirmed his country’s devotion to the Jewish State and condemned the BDS (Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement. He also linked BDS to anti-Semitism while discussing the recent rise in European anti-Semitism on a radio show, calling BDS a “ridiculous and counterproductive shenanigan.” It was Ryan’s first trip to a foreign nation since assuming the speakership.

Anti-BDS Laws
California is well on its way to becoming the eighth state to pass a law aimed at curtailing the efforts of the BDS movement. The state legislature is considering a measure similar to those of many states that have already prohibited state entities from contracting with businesses that engage in boycotts against Israel. Before the bill can reach the Assembly floor, it must first pass through a number of committees. It was approved by the Assembly Accountability Administrative Review committee last week and will pass through the Judiciary Committee tomorrow, and ultimately the Appropriations Committee before either branch may vote on it. We are currently staging a contact your legislator campaign for our California followers to urge their state representatives to pass the bill.

Colorado became the seventh state to pass an anti-BDS measure late last month as Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law a bill requiring the state’s retirement program to divest from companies that boycott Israel.

In late March,Illinois officially became the first state to publicly list companies that are banned from doing business with any state entity for boycotting Israel. Overall, 11 companies were listed by the Illinois Investment Policy board as being barred from conducting business with state entities for their support of the BDS movement. This, of course, comes amid a wave of state-sponsored legislation targeting BDS supporting corporations.

The recent wave of anti-BDS bills clearing state legislatures is considered a huge boon for supporters of Israel, especially as anti-Israel sentiment gains support on college campuses and in the international political arena. State legislation has increasingly become an integral component of the fight against BDS, gaining traction in particular after the European Union (EU) began labeling goods made within the disputed territories last year. Jewish advocacy organizations (including this one) have turned their attention to state-sponsored anti-BDS measures in lieu of support from foreign nations and international political bodies. The US government paved the way for the recent wave of anti-BDS laws in state legislatures with a law designed to legally strengthen states’ abilities to pass anti-BDS legislation.

The BDS movement suffered two defeats in five weeks at the University of Minnesota, as a pro-BDS resolution put forth and supported by a number of student and faculty groups was twice shot down. While the Minnesota Student Association (MSA) did pass a heavily amended version of the BDS bill, the final product contained no references to specific countries, including Israel, and instead resolved that MSA endorse divestment generally from “corporations involved in human rights violations,” and from “companies profiting from human rights abuses and violations of international law.” You can track all college and university votes on BDS resolutions on the website of the AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit focused on monitoring anti-Semitism.

Unfortunately, BDS gained ground with victories at two major educational institutions: the City University of New York (CUNY) system and the University of Chicago (UChicago), in the past week. On Friday, the CUNY Doctoral Students Council overwhelmingly voted in favor of an academic boycott of Israel, and last Thursday the UChicago student government voted that the university should divest itself from ten companies that profit from the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Following the vote, however, the UChicago administration issued a statement clearly articulating that it would not divest from companies doing business in Israel.

New York University’s graduate student union will consider a resolution in support of BDS later this week. The measure would request an academic divestment from Israel, the divestment of the university’s endowment from Israeli companies, and the closure of the university’s Tel Aviv campus. A spokesperson for the school -- which has an incredibly high percentage of Jewish students -- said that the administration has long been opposed to BDS, and that the “vote is at odds with NYU’s policy on this matter,” is “at odds with the principles of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas,” and “is even at odds with the position of their own parent union, the UAW.” The UAW already nullified the pro-BDS resolution passed by academic workers in the University of California system in January, and will likely do so again if the NYU student union passed their version of a pro-BDS measure.

The Rockefellers, an historic family known for amassing unprecedented sums of wealth during the Gilded Age, are on the hotseat for supporting BDS. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), a charity organization owned and operated by the family, has reportedly donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to pro-BDS organizations, according to the Shurat Hadin Israel Law center who sent the RBF a scathing letter threatening legal action. The RBF said in response that while they do not support BDS, “they stand behind all the organizations supported by the fund and which work for a just and peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians.”

A-list celebrities continue to stand by the Jewish State. Kevin Costner recently dismissed the BDS movement during his second trip to Israel, knocking famous BDS activist and Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters in the process. And legendary British singer-songwriter Elton John and American comedian sensation Louis CK are set to perform in Israel in the coming weeks.