University of Washington BDS Fiasco

As most of us in the BDS/anti-BDS subculture (and almost no one else) knows, the you-know-who haters suffered one of the biggest of the umpteen defeats they received this year when the University of Washington BDS vote went against divestment 59-8.

The only two newsworthy things about this most recent BDS setback are (1) the ballot went against the motion so decisively; and (2) this latest chapter of the campus student-council divestment saga barely made news before, during and after the vote.

While congratulations need to go to the pro-Israel students at UW who took the microphones and successfully made their case, the lopsidedness of the vote would point to an additional source for last night’s outcome: the fact that student governments are getting wise to the fact that SJP-types don’t give a fig about anything beyond their own fanatical agenda and are ready to badger representatives all night long if need be in order to get their way.

I’m speculating, of course, but from what I know of college campuses today it would probably be a stretch to say that a Zionist heart beats in the chest of 88% of students on campus (that’s 59/(59+8) BTW).  But I suspect that the 88% of UW student senators, and the students they represent, don’t appreciate being played for chumps just to give the boycotters a captive audience to wail at for hour after hour after hour.

With regard to the lack of media interest in the vote – even in the Jewish press – we need to compare this year’s campus divestment stories in aggregate to the media frenzy that took place at Berkeley in 2010.  That was the year the student government did vote “Yes” on divestment only to see the measure vetoed by the council President, a veto the boycotters couldn’t scrounge the votes to override.

While the elements of that story (consisting of twists and turns, each hinging on a nail-biting ballot) infused that tale with drama, the fact that this was the first major campus where student government was voting in divestment also made the story fresh and new (drama, freshness and Jews being three things the media can’t get enough of).  But in the years since that Berkeley defeat, the BDSers have been bringing the same measures up on campus after campus, only to see them voted down in almost every instance.

Given how little concern the boycotters have for student government opinion when they are told “No” (repeatedly), is it any wonder that neither students, administrators or journalists take these divestment ballots (or the student governments that vote them in) seriously on those rare occasions when the boycotters manage to eke out a “Yes” (usually by packing student government with their own supporters or sneaking measures in during the dead of night and/or during Jewish holidays)?

Unlike the boycotters, our side doesn’t tend to break into war dances and demand everyone (including our foes) acknowledge our “stunning momentum” when we win, which means the UW story will likely fade away (at least until the BDSers show up again to demand a redo, or bring the 59 people who voted against them up on charges).

But there’s one important message coming out of last night’s vote that should not go away.  For, as the UW Senate made loud and clear, no one is obliged to vote on this or that international issue just because 100 SJPers are breathing down their neck demanding that their pet peeve be made the law of the land.

If the student body of every college in the country has gotten along just fine without condemning Syria for genocide, Saudi Arabia for gender and sexual Apartheid, or the Palestinians for terror and corruption, then they are perfectly justified not embracing an BDS agenda pushed by allies of those repressive and bigoted societies.

2 thoughts on “University of Washington BDS Fiasco”

  1. “as the UW Senate made loud and clear, no one is obliged to vote on this or that international issue”
    This is exactly right. I was the SPF Committee Chair at the time of this vote, which meant I was at the podium at the front. I cast an abstaining vote, as did all of the leadership, since we were constantly faced with accusations of being biased. We weren’t.
    I don’t know what the majority feeling of the Senate is towards BDS, or towards Zionism, or whatever, but we could all tell it would be a bad decision to get the ASUW involved in a complicated conflict, no matter how many people wanted us too. Even the BDS supporters admitted it was a “symbolic action,” and the Senate doesn’t like symbolism too much. Many also grew leery at various stories brought before us in the hours of waiting to vote, such as the tales of “tractors 15 times the size of regular tractors” fitted with missiles.
    We pass almost everything that comes before us in one form or another, but this is one of the- I believe less than a dozen bills to actually FAIL in the years I’ve been there. It was honestly pretty embarassing for everyone involved, I think.

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