The student government at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) will vote today, February 12, on a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution calling on the university to divest from “companies that profit from human-rights violations in Palestine and other communities globally,” JNS reported. Members of the University's Student for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter participated in drafting the resolution.
The resolution would target companies such as Elbit Systems Ltd, saying that they are “involved in human-rights violations and violations of international law, including the confiscation and destruction of Palestinian lands, criminalization of immigrants and communities of color, and other human rights violations,” and would “make UIUC complicit in these crimes,” says JNS who obtained a copy of the resolution.
The vote sparked reactions from several pro-Israel organizations, including UIUC Hillel.
“The divisive BDS resolution that was proposed by Students for Justice in Palestine is a clear attempt to emotionally blackmail student senators and create a hostile environment for Jewish students on our campus,” said Erez Cohen, Director of Hillel. “The resolution refers to Israel 11 times more than any other country mentioned. This is a continued attack on our growing community of Israeli and Jewish students at the University of Illinois.”
“The intended consequence of this resolution, and all BDS resolutions, is to purposely incite hatred and divisiveness on campus,” said AMCHA Initiative co-founder and director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, who continued that “while these votes carry zero weight in the eyes of the university, they are invariably linked to the harassment of Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus and pose a serious threat to their safety.”
Non-profit organization StandWithUs also reacted, saying that this resolution is "unsurprising coming from the same student government that shamefully denied any connection between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism earlier this year,” according to Rena First, Executive Director of Campus Affairs for StandWithUs.
This is not the first time the University votes on such a resolution. In October, the University student body passed a resolution introduced by SJP denying any link between antisemitism and anti-Zionism. The same resolution blamed the university’s chancellor, Robert Jones, for condemning series of antisemitic incidents.
In fact, as StandWithUs noted, there has been a recent increase in antisemitic incidents at US university campuses over the past months. Students witnessed swastikas on campus, Mezuzahs have been torn from doorposts, and there are reports of Jewish students hiding their Jewish identities on campus because they are afraid of being harassed.
In September at a mandatory staff meeting of resident advisers, an antisemitic presentation was held. Called the "Great Return March: Palestinian Resistance to 70 Years of Israeli Terror," the presentation described pro-Israel students as "pro-terrorist". In recent years, countering the BDS movement has become an important part of pro-Israel organizations, as the movement increases its influence on campuses across the United States.