Democratic Socialists of America vote to endorse BDS on Shabbat

It isn't the first time a group has attempted to exclude Jews from BDS referendums by holding them on Jewish holy days.

August 6, 2017 12:28
2 minute read.
Democratic Socialists of America logo

The logo of the Democratic Socialists of America. (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)


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The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) voted to endorse a BDS motion at their biannual convention in Chicago on Saturday.

The vote, which took place during Shabbat, when many Jews would not be in attendance, passed in a landslide, with a 90% approval.

Following the motion's passing, the crowd enthusiastically chanted ''from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,'' a refrain popular among pro-Palestinian activists. The chant suggests a future Palestinian state that would knock Israel off the map entirely.

The decision to hold the BDS vote on Shabbat or other Jewish holidays is not a new tactic for activists seeking to disavow Israel and any institutional contact with the Jewish state.

Earlier this year, the student senate at Tufts University held a BDS vote just before Passover, when many Jewish students had already left campus. Some trustees of Tufts, angered by the sly attempt to exclude Jews from the vote, pulled their monetary contributions from the school.

At Pitzer College, part of The Claremont Colleges, in 2017, students said they felt 'ambushed' by a surprise BDS vote that took place in the student senate on a Sunday during Passover, which also coincided with Easter.

In 2014, students at the City University of New York, which has a sizeable Jewish population, were able to successfully postpone a BDS referendum after students protested the fact that the vote was planned for Shabbat. At the same time, the Students for Justice in Palestine at Cornell University organized a BDS vote during the first two days of Passover, giving only a small window of notice to those who wished to be present for the vote.

The Democratic Socialists of America, whose membership has more than tripled in recent years, currently counts some 25,000 dues-paying members, and has long championed the Palestinian cause. While the movement is not officially associated with Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, the two are aligned politically. DSA was an official participant in the Women's March in January 2017, of which Sarsour was a co-organizer.

In January, DSA endorsed UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which charged that Israeli settlements were the greatest problem in the Middle East, ignoring the wars in Syria and Yemen and the humanitarian disasters those conflicts have created. The organization has accused Israel of disproportionate violence against civilians and has suggested Israel is an apartheid state.

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