The conventional wisdom today in the United States and Israel is that American campuses are rife with anti-Semitism and hostility toward Israel stoked by the boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) campaign. Parents read horror stories and fear that their children may be in physical danger and their spiritual connection to Israel threatened. Max Samarov and Brett Cohen of StandWithUs summarize the perception: “BDS is a serious threat on many of the nation’s largest and most prestigious universities because it is turning the political opinions of many student leaders against Israel, and deepening divides between Jews and other minority groups. The ultimate strategic challenge this poses is that America's future leadership, particularly in the Democratic Party, will be much less supportive of Israel. The threat is certainly growing as this trickles down to more and more schools, and as the narrative of Israel as a guilty party becomes widespread and accepted.”One of the perplexing questions has been how the BDS movement, particularly on campus, is being financed. How do the organizations manage to stage conferences, lectures, and Israel hate weeks, recruit student government candidates, and give the impression of a well-funded, coordinated and increasingly influential movement?Through interviews, information published by BDS activists and public documents it is possible to put together a glimpse at the anti-Semitic BDS network and the Israel deniers who are behind it. But first, let’s put aside the hysteria about the campus environment and look at some facts about the main campus activity of the BDS campaign, the drive to convince universities to divest from certain companies doing business in Israel, usually via resolutions adopted by student governments.The first BDS resolutions were proposed in student governments in 2005-6, of the four introduced, two passed and two were defeated. Only five other resolutions were proposed in the following five academic years combined and three of those were defeated. The campaign began to take off in 2012-13 with 10 resolutions (six were defeated), followed by 19 in 2013-14 (12 were defeated) and 27 in 2014-15 (20 were defeated).In the last 10 years (2005-2015):
- A total of 70 votes have been taken on BDS measures – 45 were defeated (64%).
- Those votes were limited to a total of 44 schools, just 2 percent of America’s four-year colleges. (I count the California Community College Association as one college and exclude the UC Student Association which has no power and represents no individual schools).
- Of the 44 campuses, 9 are part of the University of California (20%); 24 resolutions were proposed on these campuses and 15 were defeated (63 percent).
- Only 18 schools have approved a BDS resolution in the last 10 years (.009 percent of universities).
- Only the University of Michigan Dearborn, UC San Diego, UC Irvine and UC Davis have passed BDS resolutions more than once.