Israel Divestment Growing Issue on Campus — But BDS Victories Are Few

Wait Till Next Year as California 'DivestApalooza' Falls Flat

Campus Battle: Members of UCLA’s student government listen to supporters and opponents of a divestment resolution targeting Israel
courtesy of stand with us
Campus Battle: Members of UCLA’s student government listen to supporters and opponents of a divestment resolution targeting Israel

By Talia Lavin

Published April 30, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(JTA) — On Twitter, pro-Palestinian activists dubbed it “DivestApalooza.”

Student governments at three Southern California public universities all voted on divestment resolutions targeting Israel in a single day.

The April 23 votes were part of a surge in student governments at American universities voting on divestment resolutions. In the past two years, at least 16 student governments have weighed divestment measures, including nine this spring, though a majority have rejected them.

“There’s been a significant increase in divestment votes,” said Max Samarov, a senior research assistant with the Israel advocacy group StandWithUs. “I think activists were using previous years to test the waters and are now rolling divestment out as a truly national strategy.”

The divestment measures proposed to student governments generally strongly criticize Israeli policies and urge universities to divest themselves of investments in companies doing business with the Israeli military or with West Bank settlements. Their significance is largely symbolic, since they are not binding on universities.

Last academic year, the bulk of the votes took place at California universities, most of them large public schools, several of which approved divestment. This spring, many of the votes have been on campuses in other states.

Pro-Palestinian groups see themselves as making headway on campus.

“There’s more and more campuses that are taking up this issue,” said Ramah Kudaimi, membership and outreach coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. “We’ve welcomed 10 to 15 new student groups in the past year.”

On campus after campus, student government meetings to discuss divestment resolutions have been heated affairs often stretching into the night. But with only a couple exceptions, student governments this academic year have rejected divestment measures, a worse showing than the previous year for pro-Palestinian activists.

“In terms of actually winning votes, it’s been an overwhelmingly unsuccessful year for divestment activists,” Samarov said. “They may consider it a success because they’ve managed to introduce more total resolutions at more total universities in this country, but at the same time, the anti-divestment movement on campuses has become more cohesive and more prepared to push back.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.