The boycotters have been wetting themselves over last month’s “victory” getting 50 student groups at New York University (NYU) to jointly pledge a boycott of not just Israel, but campus groups (i.e., organizations created and run by other NYU students) and off-campus groups (such as Birthright, StandWithUs and the ADL) that support the Jewish state.
While the effort to get student organizations to join together to ostracize Israel supporters was one major goal of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) who drove the NYU measures, the pledge also helped SJP achieve another vital goal: rulership over left-leaning politics within a university.
As I’ve noted before, the intersectional pecking order tends to lead to domination by the ruthless. Allegedly, the intersectional construct assumes every injustice is linked with every other, requiring all oppressed groups to join together in solidarity. Such solidarity tends to be a one-way street, however, which is why alleged Israel “oppression” is on the intersectional-left’s agenda while the murder of woman and gays throughout the rest of the Middle East will never be.
The initial response to the NYU outrage has been the usual supportive (if tepid) criticism of the boycott by school administrators, coupled with sorrow-and-regret statements by local students and Jewish leaders on and off campus. What is missing is outrage, and an agenda fueled by the outrage that should accompany this level of injustice.
As long-time readers know, I tend to council caution in turning to authority figures (especially government) when dealing with BDS-related issues that could be solved by on-the-ground activists, including student activists. But the organization of dozens of campus groups to attack their Jewish schoolmates reeks of such overreach that it demands a response beyond what even the most capable campus groups can generate.
With that in mind, here are a few steps that would have a high impact on the situation at NYU:
- Alumni donors who care about Israel or just care about the toxic atmosphere at their alma mater should contact the school and alert them that their donations are on hold until the school gets its house in order. Efforts to stem the flow of donor dollars to the school should extend to campaigns within the donor community to get others to pledge to not give to NYU while the campus is ruled by mobs engaging in illegal discrimination.
- Speaking of illegal discrimination, legal support groups should immediately contact city, state and national bodies mandated to battle discrimination and provide whatever is needed for them to open investigations into whether anti-discrimination law is being violated at NYU.
- Such investigations – which can be supplemented by private civil and criminal lawsuits – should target not just the school, but the campus groups and individual members of those groups to make sure everyone who might be involved with illegal discrimination is required to live with the consequences of their choices (rather than force others – like school administrators – to take the brunt of consequences for irresponsible student behavior).
- While I’m not sure how student groups are funded at NYU, on most campuses this is done through a mandated student fee that bodies within student government get to distribute. But if it turns out that funds are being used to support student groups actively discriminating against other students, that means fees students are forced to pay are being used to fund potentially illegal activity. Given this, there may be legal grounds to halting such funding immediately (or during the next academic year), or replacing mandated fees with a voluntary opt-in (vs. opt-out) alternative.
- During the outrage that would ensure if any or all of these suggestions are put into place, our side should refrain from talking about (or even mentioning) the Middle East. Rather, all of our talking points should focus on “illegal discrimination,” using the phrase as incessantly as our opponents use “Apartheid.”
These are certainly harsh measures likely to make the atmosphere on campus even more toxic. But right now, the only people being targeted are Jewish students leaving the Israel haters free to spew their poisons without consequence.
School administrators tend to make decisions based on who will cause them the most vs. the least trouble, which is why they are not likely to come down hard on 50 campus groups who could take over their offices, especially if the countervailing threat comes from a Jewish community writing them tearful letters about feeling unsafe. But visits by civil rights lawyers from the city and state of New York, as well as the Federal Department of Education (especially one run by Ken Marcus) would definitely change leadership calculus, hopefully causing them to take the reins of the school they allegedly lead.
As noted before, legal responses should be limited to just those situations where political options have been blocked or are impossible. But if one chooses to go down the legal route, such a response should be overwhelming, even (dare I say it) disproportionate, in order to let the world know that an assault on Jews is no longer cost free.