Case Study: University of Washington

One of BDS’ most devastating defeats of 2014 occurred at the University of Washington, a prominently left-wing campus in a prominently left-wing area of the county. SUPER (Students for Palestinian Equal Rights) brought a resolution to the student government and gathered much support in the form of pro-BDS letters from academics across the county. They also managed to publish a pro-BDS letter in the local Seattle newspaper.

Her Glatter was present and said that anti-divestment students were almost as numerous as pro-divestment students. He said anti-divestment students made arguments that “resonated well with the senators” and pointed out that BDS was not interested in dialogue or compromise:

“We all support human rights, justice, and fair treatment for all people. I support fair treatment of Palestinians. But this resolution is one-sided, it does nothing to bring the parties together for dialogue. It actually opposes dialogue. And though we’ve tried to talk to the other side, the other side has refused to talk with us.”

Professor Paul Berstein also made an appearance, and was the only speaker to say that the BDS resolution was anti-Semitic. He also called out BDS’s true intention of annihilating the Jewish state, and suggested that the student senators were being manipulated.

Finally at 9:30 pm the vote was tallied: 59 against, 8 in favor, and 11 abstentions.

StandWithUs staffers Max Samarov, Hen Mazzig, and Ron Jacbos reported on what turned the tide so strongly:

“The debate lasted for about three hours with many speakers on each side. Speakers against the resolution included not only active pro-Israel students, but also student senators who did their own research and came out strongly against divestment.

Exposing BDS’ goal of eliminating Israel and violating Jewish rights to self-determination was the key focus of the night, and it was clear that this message got through to many senators. UW pro-Israel students did an AMAZING job, and big kudos to Hillel of UW!”

“With BDS, many of us have different perspectives,” pro-Israel activist David Weingarten told Haaretz. “But, at the end of the day, we can all come together in the understanding that BDS is not something we can support as a means of supporting a two-state solution – and everyone is clearly for a two-state solution.”

Hillel Rabbi Oren Hayon said the activity was focused on students, with assistance from Hillel, AIPAC, StandWithUs, J Street U, and the Jewish Agency.

“We had to assemble the broadest possible coalition that we could, from all along the political and ideological spectrum,” he said. “I wanted to find out what the breaking point of a coalition could be, and then take half a step back from that. To include as many different viewpoints as we could, while still maintaining the structural integrity of our group.”

The story doesn’t end there, however. After the resolution had been defeated and the students were leaving the hall, pro-divestment students formed an intimidating semi circle as they held signs and glared, forcing everyone to walk past them on the way out. Divestment supporters also engaged in their typical harassment on social media.

Student Groups:
Hillel at University of Washington

Anti-BDS Op-Eds
Why Israel? The Problems With ASUW 20-39