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!
  • The rose petals have settled, and Andi has made her (Jewish?) choice. We look back on the #Bachelorette finale:
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • 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.