“I wondered why somebody didn’t do something. Then I realized, I am somebody.”
— Source Unknown
Your early moves will be very important. Here are some tips to remember for when you first hear that a BDS resolution will be coming to your school. What to do:
- Get all the information you can on the campaign, including a copy of the divestment resolution as soon as possible.
- Bring together pro-Israel activists to decide if a response is necessary.
- Contact the Israel on Campus Coalition rapid response team, which will activate the relevant local and/or national organizations.
- Build an active coalition that includes students, faculty, and community members (Hillel, Jewish Federations, synagogues).
- Contact administration and trustees as necessary.
- Develop a press strategy.
- Create opportunities to educate the campus community, such as teach-ins and panels with experts who can explain the issues and who are prepared to answer questions.
- Prepare responses on three fronts:
A. Process (E.g., Is the initiative legal? How is the debate structured?).
B. Substance (What does the initiative say? What are the claims/responses?).
C. Implications (Will this advance peace or harm it? How will this affect our campus and community?)
Points on Process
- Rules of the Game – If this is being presented to the student government, what are the rules for debate and passage?
- Have proper procedures been followed? If not, can the initiative be disqualified on technical grounds?
- Do you need a “no” vote or can you defeat a measure by convincing enough members to abstain?
- Can a measure be vetoed? Who decides and what must be done to override a veto?
- Defining the Debate – Who is allowed to speak about the issue? Where is the debate? How long are presentations?
- Identifying the Sponsor – Who is supporting and funding the initiative? Is there transparency?
- What it takes to “Win” – While it would be nice to convince students of the merits of Israel’s case, the goal is to defeat the BDS initiative, which may only require you to convince people not to vote “yes.”
- The best arguments against an affirmative vote may be about the impact on the campus rather than the substance of the debate about Israel and the Palestinians.
- Who are the most influential members of the student government?
- Which allies can reach out to members who support the BDS measure or those who are undecided?
- What messages will work best with which members?
- Are there other students or campus influentials, such as professors, who can speak to members?