Students for Justice in Palestine brought a thoroughly misleading and false resolution divesting from certain companies doing business in Israel before the Cornell University Undergraduate Student Assembly.
The President of Cornell previously rejected the SJP divestment request. So the vote in front of the Student Assembly would have been merely symbolic.
Nonetheless, symbolism matters, and SJP and its coalition of other student groups used this as an opportunity to spend a month lying about Israel and Zionism, and forcing the campus to address those lies.
BDS was tried in 2014 and failed miserably, but not before SJP tried to intimidate and bully pro-Israel students. This time around there wasn’t physical intimidation, but SJP was more strategic, having spent months planning this maneuver.
The key strategy and tactic used this year, which is from the SJP playbook, was to call for divestment from Israel while at the same time denying that the resolution was part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Call it BDS-lite — the strategists at National SJP and their helpers know that BDS is toxic, so they do BDS without calling it BDS.
SJP also requested a secret ballot, which the Student Assembly agreed to do even though it violated the Student Assembly bylaws. While it’s hard to prove in this instance if the secret ballot impacted the voting, the prevailing wisdom is that secret balloting helps SJP so that student representatives don’t have to be accountable for endorsing Israel hatred.
It almost worked. The Student Assembly rejected the resolution by just one vote 14-15, and only after two “community” votes from the undergraduate students in the audience went for “No” on the resolution. The pro-Israel community, which is most of Cornell, turned out in force and the community made its voice heard in a decisive way.
That was a just outcome. BDS has very little support outside the far-left student and faculty activists on campus. But they can exert disproportionate influence over institutions like the Student Assembly. The community vote helped level the playing field, which is why SJP tried at the meeting to change the nature of its resolution to eliminate the community vote. That last minute maneuver failed, and the community got a voice.
The SJP strategy also had a putrid racial overtone, with SJP repeatedly emphasizing that all of the non-white student identity groups endorsed the resolution. The resolution thus was presented as students of color backing ‘Palestine” against the white Jews supporting Israel. This is the toxic byproduct of how intersectionality theory dominates on campuses, with Jews and Israel being the center of the supposed intersecting systems of oppression.
SJP also put a small number of anti-Israel Jewish students out front in its campaign to deflect claims that BDS is antisemitic. We see this all the time with groups like Jewish Voice for Peace which “Jew-washes” antisemitism.
It didn’t work, but only by one vote.
But a win is a win is a win.
Here are some photos:
Disgusting sign posted by SJP trying to hijack the Holocaust and the phrase “Never Again”
The usual defamatory claims of Apartheid:
The list of groups supporting the divestment resolution unfurled by SJP:
Some pro-Israel signs and students:
Your humble correspondent:
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