Any number of you out there can probably list the times anti-Israel events, conferences, programs and activities were scheduled to begin, oh, around sundown on Friday and continue until right around sundown Saturday.
But last weekend, we seemed to have entered new territory in which proponents of BDS decided that the Sabbath preceding the start of Rosh Hashanah was the perfect time to try to sink their infected fangs into the University of California College system one more time.
If you recall, the UC system has been the site of countless divestment battles over the last several years. One of the biggest divestment fights in recent memory took place at Berkeley in 2010, a fight that set the stage for numerous BDS defeats in the coming years as university student unions around the country (including many on other UC campuses) voted down one toothless divestment resolution after another.
In each of these cases, student governments showed BDS the door and students across the state raised their voices in anger at a fringe political movement that kept insisting on speaking in the name of every student in the UC system, a movement that seemed metaphysically incapable of taking no for an answer.
So what do you do when your proposals get voted down by representative student governments again and again and students themselves keep saying that Students for Justice in Palestine (or whatever the Israel-dislikers are calling themselves this week) do not represent their views? Find a new venue!
In this case, the target was the University of California Student Association (UCSA), a group of UC student government representatives whose stated purpose is “increasing the accessibility, affordability and quality of the UC system through advocacy and direct action organizing.”
Notice the lack of anything to the effect of “and speaking in the name of every student on any campus where we have representation on topics of international politics” from that mission statement. Nor does this organization claim to act as an uber-government, superseding decisions of member student councils to make statements on behalf of campuses.
Yet last Saturday (yes, the Saturday right before the holidays), this organization passed a resolution allegedly claiming to condemn the California legislature’s recent bill condemning BDS and other anti-Israel activities on state campuses. I say “allegedly” because a quick read though the actual text of the resolution reveals it to be a goody-bag of BDS talking points regarding everything from the legitimacy of boycott and divestment (ignoring the fact that UC students have rejected divestment again and again), with a healthy share of “we have the right to speak the truth that Israel is an Apartheid State! Blah! Blah! Blah!” boilerplate.
If this resolution sounds like it might have been drafted by SJP and then handed over the UCSA for rubber stamping, with no input from anyone other than partisans interested in getting a UC stamp of approval on some kind of hate-Israel motion, that might be because (you guessed it), when this vote was only the partisans and SJPers knew anything about it.
There doesn’t seem to have been any attempt to communicate that such a resolution would be discussed (much less voted on) to members (including members who might have objected had they known what was going on). Nor did anything seem to consider it bad taste to take a vote that would represent one more slap in the face of Jewish students on the eve of the Jewish New Year.
In fact, given the BDSers proclivity to sneak their squalid little resolutions in through the back door in the dead of night, it’s a safe bet that the timing for such a vote was no accident, but an intentional attempt to get an anti-Israel measure passed before Jewish students had the chance to know what was going on, much less respond.
In theory, this resolution is about a measure by the state legislature decrying the irresponsible and reprehensible behavior of boycott activists on campuses. And while I’m not a big fan of government action (either legislative or judicial) to shut down debate on any subject, I’m not exactly sure why elected representatives don’t get the chance to have their opinions heard on this subject. Especially when the boycotters have just gone so far out of their way to prove that everything those legislators, actual student governments, and students through the UC campus system already know: that when it comes right down to it the BDSers ARE a bunch of reprehensible jerks.