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November 28, 2014 3:13 pm

Union-led BDS Campaign at University of California Accused of ‘Discrimination’ as December 4 Vote Nears

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Leaders of the UAW 2865 union at the University of California are leaning on members to vote in favor of BDS. Photo: Twitter

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists at the University of California will seek to escalate their campaign against Israel’s existence next week, with a union chapter representing 13,000 mainly graduate workers scheduled to vote on a resolution on whether they should join the “global BDS movement.”

Members of United Automobile Workers 2865, a union comprised principally of teaching assistants at nine University of California campuses, will be presented with a ballot paper this Thursday, December 4, asking whether they should “join the global movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, until such time as Israel has complied with international law and respected the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and all Palestinians refugees and exiles.”

The wording of the resolution, which centers on the so-called “right of return” for the descendants of Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war – code for the elimination of Israel as a sovereign state – is consistent with the declarations of BDS movement leaders like Omar Barghouti, a Tel Aviv University graduate student who has proclaimed that the BDS movement opposes “a Jewish state in any part of Palestine… [only] a sellout Palestinian would accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”

The foundation for the resolution was laid in July, at the height of Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza, when the UAW 2865 Joint Council declared its intention “to support our Palestinian counterparts.”

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According to informedgrads.org, a group of union members opposed to the BDS motion, the Joint Council has demonstrated utter contempt for basic democratic procedures. UAW 2865 is, the group says, “already sponsoring BDS and anti-Israel activities without waiting for the vote,” engaging in such activities as attending and endorsing anti-Israel demonstrations, including the violent blockade of Israeli ships docking at the port in Oakland. Additionally, around $50,000 of union money has already been spent on promoting the BDS campaign, prompting informedgrads.org to protest at the  “redirecting of political capital that should be used to push our university administrators to improve our working conditions.”

“The UC administration is not required to consider these calls for boycotts and divestment, and they have unequivocally stated that they oppose such actions,” the group adds.

While previous BDS  initiatives on American campuses have been led by student bodies, anti-boycott activists point out that the current battle at the University of California is different, since it involves a labor union. The Amcha Initiative, an organization defending the rights of Jewish students, sent a strongly worded letter to University of California President Janet Napolitano stating that “we are greatly concerned that these union members, who are responsible for instructing undergraduate students on 9 UC campuses, will bring their unscholarly, politically-motivated and antisemitic propaganda and advocacy into UC classrooms, where it certainly does not belong.”

Such activities are likely a violation of university rules. “Teaching undergraduate students one-sided propaganda which falsely alleges that Israel is a ‘settler colonial’ and ‘apartheid’ state worthy of elimination and promoting an antisemitic boycott of Israel do not constitute education but unabashed political indoctrination, which is expressly forbidden by the UC Regents in their Policy on Course Content (also known as the Regents Policy on Academic Freedom,)” the Amcha letter said.

A recent Inside Higher Ed report on the UAW 2865 campaign observed that “while some education-related unions in Europe and the Middle East have signed on to the boycott, none in the U.S. have done so, and the American Federation of Teachers recently opposed it as stifling to academic freedom and intellectual engagement.”

In the United Kingdom, where the clash over the academic boycott has raged since 2005, the University and College Union (UCU) has been the main vehicle for boycott initiatives.

“Our experience is that treating Israelis as being exceptionally deserving of boycott imports antisemitic ways of thinking and feeling into a trade union,” David Hirsh, a British academic and the founder of the anti-boycott group Engage, told The Algemeiner.  “It sets up a fight with most Jewish members, it puts them in the dock and requires them to answer for Israel. It also disempowers those who fight for a politics of peace and reconciliation, while empowering those who want to flag wave for a victory of one nation over the other.”

Jonathan Kummerfeld, an academic based in the Computer Science department at UC Berkeley and a prominent member of informedgrads.org, told The Algemeiner that reaching out to the vast majority of undecided UAW 2865 members was key to defeating the BDS proposal.

“All the information from the union has been pro-BDS, but I think we’ve made a lot of progress and we have a good chance of winning this,” Kummerfeld said.

Kummerfeld said that the “real goal” of the BDS resolution “is to justify the opinion of some of the members of the leadership that this should be a core part of our union activity.” He expressed concern that the passage of the resolution could lead to “institutionalized discrimination” against those who oppose it. Some academic colleagues, Kummerfeld said, are already reluctant to oppose the resolution out of the fear that doing so could “impact them professionally.”

The success of the BDS resolution would negatively impact UAW 2865’s relationship with the rest of the labor movement, Kummerfeld predicted. As evidence, he cited a November 4 letter signed by Randy Cammack and Rome A. Aloise of the powerful Teamsters union that was sent to Michelle Glowa, the president of UAW 2865. The Teamsters, the letter declared, “cannot conceive of an action more hostile to the interests of our members and more antithetical to the most basic principles of the union movement,” and warned: “We would find it difficult to ask our members to support your union in a labor dispute with the University of California so long as you are engaged in activities that are fundamentally hostile to their interests.”

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  • Ed Moss

    The BDS have demonstrated that they don’t actually care about the Palestinians – they are too focused on their anti-Semitism and the destruction of Israel, as is patently obvious by the hordes of unwaged and unwashed their Socialist Workers Party [there’s an oxymoron of a title if ever there was one] rabble-rallies attract.

    They are predominantly just a rather sorry-seeming Qatar-sponsored “rent a mob”, many of whom don’t even know where Gaza is on a map (and I have proved this in the UK several times at their Nazi-style boycotts, and I have maps they filled in to prove it).

    For example, the BDS and their Sopcialist Worker Party supporters are totally unconcerned that for the first time in over 10 centuries there are now no Christians left in (Mosul) Iraq, and they certainly don’t care that 210,000 have been killed in Syria over the past few years [whereas only 9,121 Palestinians have been killed in conflict with Iserael – itself far too many, but very often the Palestinians have only themselves to blame – in the past 14 years, and many of those have been Hamas or other terrorists] and 10.8million Syrians made homeless – this is NEVER mentioned by these BDS Nazis or their supporters with their pathetic and extremely hypocrital (and very selective, as the hypocrites seem happy to continue to use Israeli P{C and mobile technology while telling others to boyctt Israel!) boycotts.

    They really are shameful human beings.

  • Lammie

    Anti-Semitism is an incurable and high;y infectious disease.

    Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority has declared that he is AGAINST BDS. He has said so loud and clear. The BDS movement activists clearly know that any success of BDS will hurt Arabs more than Jews – many Arabs will lose their livelihoods. So there is no way that the BDS people are concerned with the well- being of the Arabs – their goal is clearly the annihilation of the Jewish State- classic antisemitism.

  • CGG

    I 100% appreciate this article. However, in reporting it’s important that the facts be clear. The blockade is Oakland was not violent. Let’s not obfuscate our message with inaccuracies. Otherwise, good job. Thank you.

  • Robert Davis

    ISRAEL HAS ALREADY COMPLIED WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW SINCE SAN REMO AND SEVRES TREATIES GAVE HISTORICAL PALESTINE TO JEWS AND ARTICLE 80 OF THE UN CHART PROHIBITS ANY NON JEWISH STATE TO BE SET UP IN PALESTINE!!!IN FACT IT IS ARABS WHO DO NOT COMPLY TO INTERNATIONAL LAW SINCE THEY ARE ILLEGALLY OCCUPYING EASTERN PALESTINE.ISRAEL S GOVT IS A FOOL NOT TO EXPEL ARABS TO EASTERN PALESTINE IE JORDAN!!!

  • Ivan Gur-Arie

    Academic intelligence. Ha Ha What a laugh. The university iss becoming a waste of time so long as this legalized prejudice exists. Boycott University of California and others of its ilk.

  • Max Cohen

    The spirit of Dennis Rader lives on in the BDS movement to strangle the Jewish state of Israel with boycotts, divestment and sanctions. Probably, all three actions are not needed except that using all three of the letters symbolizing the movement, recalls the blood-curdling effect of the infamous BDK serial killer in Wichita, KS from 1974 to 1991. Dennis Rader sent letters to the police and the media boasting of binding, torturing and killing ten known victims, usually women from nine to sixty-five years of age.
    He preferred strangulation. It is believed that the lack of capital punishment in Kansas during these years encouraged Rader. He stopped when capital punishment was reinstated. He now serves ten meaningless life sentences. By the way, what punishment is available for the strangulators of the Israeli state?

  • manley

    Between the pro-Palestinian lobby, other anti-Semitics and the uninformed majority, Israel will always have an uphill battle. Nevertheless I believe Israel will and should do whatever is in their best interest, whether or not it conforms to others desires and demands.

  • Billy Bumps

    No BDS activity in the union….what crap!.the
    college kids have nothing better to spend their
    energies on but BDS and of which they know so
    little…..just enough to cause harm to all who
    are involved……BDS is not an objective of the
    Union……as are benefits, education and job
    security……….

  • Billy Bumps

    What the heck is the union doing? sidling up to
    the college anyway? Go to work doing what you
    do to keep this country moving and growing and
    protecting your jobs…..guit with the politics and
    go to work!

  • steven L

    The US Congress must investigate the financial support of BDS. Would not be surprised if lots of petro$ were not coming from the ME.

  • Joel

    This comes as no surprise given that UC has long since been willfully subverted by Muslim radicals. BDS recognition by the union just brings the teaching staff formally in line with an already extant situation.

    UC campuses have ever been the point of radicalism in California, so maybe the teachers think this will protect them from literal and verbal assault as Middle East conditions move ever closer to an outbreak of regional and ultimately world war.

  • Adele Gauer

    This is an anti Semitic propostion that would destroy any integrity of the Union and the educators it represents. Signing this would put the entire University of California , it’s administration and teachers as well as the State of Califonia in a position that supports terrorism led governments and anti Semitic I’ve it’s stance. At the present I believe that there are several ongoing research studies going on between Israeli schools and tech corps and the University of California.
    What would happen to these?

  • Bernard Ross

    ZIM should have sued this and other unions for participating in a blockade of its legal business.

  • Wm. J. Levy

    Jews you better learn how to fight fast because these anti-Jews are well organized thanks to Arab money and white suprimecists support.

    We are facing another 1930’s event and Jews are too weak and “stupid’ to take notice since most are anti-Israel and pro-Arab to begin with.

    Organization and strength are the keys. Jews are being terminated in universities. Jews are being intimidated in universities and their worst enemies are coming together with black haters of Jews.

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