As 2015 has come to a close and we enter 2016 we are witnessing a significant rise in BDS proposals among many academic associations and on-campuses in general as we see for example, in the Oberlin alumni letter included in this Faculty Forum. In particular, it is worth noting the alarming rise in anti-Semitic activity throughout the University of California (UC) at large. The AMCHA Initiative conducted an on-line survey which findings were extremely troubling highlighting that more than 70% of the respondents reported witnessing or experiencing anti-Semitism on campus including graffiti, heckling, name-calling, threats and physical assaults.
In addition, more than 60% of respondents reported that BDS activity promotes hostility towards Jewish students.
Now, at the upcoming meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA) set to take place later this month the group will be addressing Israel’s policies towards Palestinian universities in the West Bank and Gaza. Our colleague, professor Jeffrey Herf who argued and won against the BDS proposal last year is now taking on this proposal and correctly points out in response to the resolution that,
The Embassy [Israeli] statement points out that the number of undergraduates in the last ten years at Palestinian universities doubled from 129,000 in 2005 to 209,000 in 2015, the number of graduate students in that period tripled from 14,000 to 36,800 and the faculty increased from 3,700 to 6,880. The Israeli government would not support this remarkable expansion if it were adopting the policies alleged in the HAW resolution. It also bears mentioning that almost all of the universities in the West Bank and Gaza were founded after 1967.
We hope other members of the AHA will listen and follow Herf’s lead on the above.
Positively, the United Auto Workers (UAW) International Union granted an appeal filed by a member of the University of California student group Informed Grads, thereby striking down a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) resolution adopted by UAW Local 2865 last year. The UAW International Executive Board stated its “unanimous belief” that BDS “espouses discrimination and vilification against Israelis and UAW members who are of Jewish lineage.”
As always, we welcome your feedback and article submissions.
Asaf Romirowsky, PhD