The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is very adaptive. As its tactics fail, BDS adjusts.

The latest adjustment is moving its focus to graduate student unions, where the student population is a subset of the entire student population. In such unions (similar to some faculty associations), BDS supporters take over governing councils and turn the union into a BDS-controlled anti-Israel propaganda activist organization.

We saw this in the U. Cal. system, and again at NYU. In each of those instances, the grad student union was an affiliate of the United Auto Workers.

In the U. Cal. case, the UAW overruled the BDS resolution as contrary to the UAW’s governing rules.

It just happened again at NYU.

As we reported, after a sleazy campaign of vilification and manipulation, with questionable tactics, BDS supporters at the NYU grad student union passed a BDS Resolution. (Anti-Israel groups at NYU have a long history of smear tactics and intimidation.)

A group of grad students opposed to BDS filed an appeal to the UAW, which stated in part:

Our unit’s endorsement of BDS (“the Resolution”) violates the International UAW’s Constitution and Ethical Practice Codes (EPC) in the following ways:

  • The Resolution, calling for institutional, commercial, and academic boycotts, violates Article 37 Section 6 of our Constitution, which obligates subordinate bodies of the union “to maintain free relations with other organizations.”
  • The Resolution, endorsing a controversial political movement that our employer, New York University, has emphatically rejected both before and after the vote (see attached statements), violates the EPC‘s mandate against engaging in activities “with complete disregard of […] the interests of the union [, or] to subvert the union in collective bargaining.” ….
  • The Resolution also subverts the UAW’s collective bargaining power by targeting companies that employ UAW members, such as Caterpillar, which is vilified by name on the website of the student group that authored the Resolution text (see attached screenshot). This violates the EPC‘s above-mentioned mandate against subverting the union in collective bargaining by interfering with companies where GSOC – UAW ….
  • The Resolution, which was opposed by hundreds of votes, violates Article 2 Section 2 of our Constitution, which lists as an objective “to unite in one organization, regardless of […] political affiliation […,] all employees under the jurisdiction of this International Union.” ….
  • The Resolution, by calling us to join a movement that vilifies all Israelis who do not support BDS, further violates the above-quoted Article 2 Section 2 of our Constitution and the EPC. ….
  • The Resolution, by forcing the UAW to make a decision on whether or not to endorse BDS, violates Article 37 Section 7 of our Constitution, which mandates that “no Local Union or other subordinate body […] shall have the power or authority to represent, act for, commit or bind the International Union in any matter.” ….

The appeal was successful.

The UAW reversed the NYU grad student union resolution, as the Jerusalem Post reports:

Two months after the Graduate Student Union at New York University voted to join the Boycott Divest and Sanctions movement against Israel, the decision was repealed by the group’s parent union, the United Auto Workers.

The decision made this week was the result of some members of the NYU student union (GSOC) filing an official appeal against the April decision, claiming it violated the UAW constitution’s own bylaws.

The appeal, signed by Ilana Ben-Ezra, member of GSOC for Open Dialogue on Israel and Palestine, pointed out that the resolution is illicit because it violates the UAW’s pledge “to maintain free relations with other organizations.” Ben-Ezra also noted that the resolution goes NYU’s official position and “vilifies” companies that are members of the parent union.

The effect of this ruling, however, is more sweeping. Here is the ruling:

UAW Ruling BDS June 16 2016

The key language is as follows (emphasis added):

In your letter, you have asked for direction on how to proceed. It is our understanding that this resolution was passed by the GSOC unit and it was subsequently appealed to the Local Union. The BDS matter was settled [in the U. Cal. case] by the IEB, and that decision was upheld by the PRB. Accordingly, the position of the International Union is binding on all subordinate bodies. Therefore, the GSOC unit’s BDS resolution is of no force or effect….”

As the student group noted in its press release, this is a hugely important ruling (emphasis in original):

On June 16, 2016, United Auto Workers (UAW) took an historic moral stance against the movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel, by ruling that no subordinate body of the International UAW can endorse BDS.  The ruling affects graduate student unions at over 15 universities, including New York University, University of Massachusetts, University of California, and University of Washington, several of which have recently passed BDS resolutions.

I have no doubt that some grad student sub-units of the UAW will continue BDS activism, and maybe adopt more BDS resolutions.

BDS, particularly on campus, is not about outcomes, it’s about process. That process is to demonize and dehumanize Israel and Israelis. So long at the debate is over how bad Israel supposedly is, BDS considers it’s winning.

It’s madness, but there’s a method.