NYU has more Jewish undergraduates than any other private university in America.

Supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign protest in Cape Town [File] (photo credit: RODGER BOSCH/AFP)
Supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign protest in Cape Town [File]
(photo credit: RODGER BOSCH/AFP)
The Jewish Week has just reported that not one but two BDS resolutions passed recently at New York University.
This is an absolute disgrace.
NYU has more Jewish undergraduates than any other private university in America. That these BDS resolutions have been voted in by the Student Union betrays not only growing anti-Semitism in the heart of New York City, but an utter lack of leadership among the Jewish campus professional and students, something I wrote about extensively in the New York Observer when my son was an NYU undergraduate before joining the IDF, where he currently serves as a lone combat soldier.
(Our family is in Israel visiting him for Passover.) How could rabbis on campus not mobilize the Jewish students to oppose the BDS resolution? How could the approximately 6,000 Jewish students allow Israel to be maligned on their campus in such an extreme way? The sole purpose of BDS is to destroy Israel. It has no interest whatsoever in Palestinian rights. If it did it would be boycotting Egypt for destroying hundreds of Palestinian homes on the Gaza border in October 2014 to stop Hamas from smuggling weapons.
If BDS were about Palestinian rights it would be boycotting Mahmoud Abbas for becoming a dictator and running a kleptocracy in the Palestinian Authority. If BDS were about Palestinian rights it would be boycotting Hamas for its “honor” killings and assassinations of Palestinians who protest its brutal rule.
BDS has no interest in protecting Arab life. If it did it would be boycotting Syria for murdering 250,000 Arabs.
BDS has no interest in protesting an occupation. If it did it would be boycotting China for occupying Tibet since 1950.
BDS has no interest in promoting Arab human rights. If it did it would be divesting from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Syria, Lebanon and every other Arab country, where Arabs are denied the most basic rights such as freedom of press, freedom to protest their government, and the freedom to vote, all of which are guaranteed to Arabs only in Israel.
BDS trades in anti-Semitism with its primary objective being the economic destruction of the world’s only Jewish state and the Middle East’s only democracy.
So why aren’t the Jewish students and Hillel and Chabad openly fighting BDS at NYU? Pressure most come from pro-Israel donors to NYU to stop the rampant Israel-hatred and anti-Semitism that is coming to define a university that exists in the middle of a city with more Jewish residents than any other.
For BDS to pass in “Jew York” betrays a Jewish unwillingness to stand up for Israel.
I have a question to my esteemed rabbinical colleagues at Chabad of NYU, Hillel at NYU and many other Jewish organizations that exist to promote Judaism and the State of Israel on campus.
Really? We were outmaneuvered by a group from Students for Justice in Palestine whose numbers are tiny in comparison to the Jewish student population? Guys – and I say this very respectfully – do you not understand that BDS passing at your campus brings you discredit? Don’t you understand how this emboldens Israel’s enemies, making them feel that nothing is beyond their reach? If they can pass BDS resolutions in New York, then what’s to stop them for passing them in New Orleans, St. Louis and Seattle? When my son Mendy started at NYU in September 2014, Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech at the nearby Cooper Union Great Hall to a group comprised mostly of NYU students. Most estimates of those who attended are that hundreds of Jewish students were present. In the speech Abbas lodged his blood libel against Israel, fraudulently and brazenly alleging that Israel perpetrated a genocide of the Palestinians during the Gaza war earlier that summer.
And what was the reaction to his disgusting lies about the Jewish state and the Jewish people? Twenty- two standing ovations.
If you want to know how he got away with it, consider this conversation I had with a student who is a pro-Israel activist on campus. I asked him why he attended the lecture. Why had he not joined my son Mendy and six of our other children who were virtually the only ones to protest Abbas’s lies and speech outside the hall? He told me, “I went in to lodge my own form of protest. When all the other students gave Abbas a standing ovation, I continued to sit.”
I’m sure Abbas was devastated.
That’s what sometimes passes for Jewish student protests at NYU.
Mendy spent the next few months organizing massive counter-events to Abbas’s libel, like bringing Elie Wiesel and Ambassador Samantha Power to respond to the false accusations of genocide in the very same hall. He brought 800 people to hear Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor, to hear his eloquent rebuttal of these disgusting lies about the Jewish state.
Mendy organized large demonstrations against the “Israel Apartheid Wall” and “Israeli Apartheid Week” events, and held an Israeli flag aloft during the entire speech of Haneen Zoabi, the Arab MK who is one of the world’s foremost Israel-haters. Zoabi lost her cool in response and said that Jews were stupid, thereby demonstrating that she is not just anti-Israel but deeply anti-Semitic.
These kinds of effective, in-your-face, peaceful demonstrations that never disrupted SJP events but called on Jewish students to stand proudly for Israel is exactly what is needed at NYU. There has to be a public and overt Jewish presence that galvanizes Jewish students to stand up for Israel.
It will only happen if the Jewish leaders on campus overcomes their fear of being labeled controversial and stand up proudly for Israel, motivating both Jewish and non-Jewish students to follow suit.
Gentlemen. Ladies. This is your job. You’re communal professionals and the students need your leadership.
And as Hillel famously said in the Talmud, if not now, when? Shmuley Boteach is the international best-selling author of 30 books, winner of The London Times Preacher of the Year Competition and recipient of the American Jewish Press Association’s Highest Award for Excellence in Commentary.
He will shortly publish The Israel Warrior’s Handbook: Fighting Back for the Jewish State from Campus to Street Corner.