UC Santa Barbara’s SJP Slammed for Launching BDS Campaign on Holocaust Remembrance Day
The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) chapter of a notorious anti-Israel group is being slammed by Jewish students for launching a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was observed on Monday.
“The Jewish community here at UCSB is shaken by the insensitivity of this resolution being brought up on Yom HaShoah [by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)],” Gauchos United for Israel told The Algemeiner on Tuesday.
“Of course, we are not taking this sitting down and have mobilized members of our community to come together and carefully organize how we are going to most effectively explain why anti-Zionism is antisemitism as well as where legitimate criticism of the Israeli government ends and antisemitism begins,” said the Hillel-affiliated student group.
In 2015, SJP introduced a similar resolution that was voted on — and defeated by a slim margin — at the Associated Students Senate on Holocaust Remembrance Day, as college paper The Daily Nexus reported. A member of SJP told the paper at the time that she had been in favor of postponing the vote, in recognition of Yom HaShoah as “a time when a lot of people are sensitive.”
Another student responded that she found it “just a little bit ridiculous” that SJP could say it “stand[s] in solidarity with Jewish students when Jewish students feel attacked by a resolution that [SJP is] bringing.”
UCSB SJP published a statement on Monday on a Facebook page called UCSB Divest, saying, “We resoundingly reject the notion that [the announcement of a new BDS push coinciding with Yom HaShoah] is in any way anti-semitic.” It said the “scheduling decision was made purely for pragmatic reasons.”
UCSB SJP went on to call the Holocaust “a catastrophe of unmitigated proportions that lives in the memory of Jewish people throughout the world as a site of collective trauma and grief.”
“We believe in the importance of upholding and honoring that trauma,” it added.
Nate Erez, president of the Students Supporting Israel chapter, said, “The problem with SJP’s timing is not if they did it deliberately or not; the problem is they don’t care enough about Yom HaShoah to even think that maybe they shouldn’t bring a resolution that targets the one Jewish state on the one day a year when we commemorate the horrible atrocities of the Holocaust. Instead they do it, and then make excuses about how there was not a single other day in the entire school year that fit their schedule.”
The resolution, titled “Divest From Companies that Profit From Human Rights Violations in Palestine/Israel,” calls for the student government, the university, the UCSB Foundation and the UC Regents to divest from companies that “a) provide military support for, or weaponry to support, the occupation of the Palestinian Territories, or b) facilitate the building or maintenance of the Apartheid Wall or the demolition of Palestinian homes, or c) facilitate in the building, maintenance, or economic development of Israeli settlements on annexed Palestinian territories.” Corporations supposedly guilty of these acts include “but [are] not limited to: Motorola, Caterpillar, Boeing, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon.”
The resolution cited the support of organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace — which honored Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh at its national conference earlier this month — as proof “that the Jewish people are not a monolithic group that unconditionally supports policies of the Israeli government, and that critiques of the nation-state and its policies are political criticism, not anti-Semitic or an attack on the Jewish people.”
Rabbi Evan Goodman, executive director of Santa Barbara Hillel — which serves the UCSB campus — told The Algemeiner that his center “stands firmly behind our students in rejecting BDS and in standing up for what is right.”
He also noted that UCSB student leaders have succeeded in defeating BDS — which he called “odious” and “evil” — “every single time it’s come up.”
Campus activists have called the timing of anti-Israel activities for Jewish holidays an “underhanded” and “undemocratic” tactic. As The Algemeiner reported, student governments at Tufts University and Claremont Colleges both passed unexpected BDS motions on or immediately before the start of Passover this year.