BDS Suffers Another Defeat at University of California-Santa Barbara; Divestment Resolution Gets Zero Votes in Favor
Zero votes were cast in favor of a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) resolution at the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) early Thursday morning following a marathon debate between pro- and anti-Israel activists.
Over 100 students signed up to speak for and against the Students for Justice in Palestine-backed (SJP) resolution at a meeting of the student government (AS) that ran from 6:30 pm local time Wednesday until 4:00 am on Thursday, according to campus paper the Daily Nexus.
Ultimately, 16 student representatives voted against the resolution, which was titled “Divest From Companies that Profit From Human Rights Violations in Palestine/Israel.” There were seven abstentions.
During the open-forum debate, many Jewish students called the resolution antisemitic, with some describing the environment on campus as divided and contentious throughout the BDS campaign, which was launched on Yom HaShoah last month.
Nate Erez — president of UCSB’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a group that played a key role in the anti-BDS effort — said the motion was “no more than a clever disguise to achieve a much more sinister agenda. This is a direct attack on the one Jewish state in the world.”
However, anti-Israel speakers claimed that refusing to boycott companies supposedly profiting from “oppression” of Palestinians would amount to UCSB’s complicity in human rights abuses. Many supporters of the resolution insisted it was a means of remaining neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an argument made in favor of BDS at other campuses, as well.
After keeping a running commentary of AS proceedings throughout the nearly 9-hour meeting, UCSB Hillel executive director Evan Goodman celebrated the victory on Facebook, “Our students and community are amazing. Time to go home now before the sun comes up. #lailatovbokertov.”
Ilan Sinelnikov — founder of the grassroots SSI movement — also took to social media, writing, “UCSB SSI STRONG. BDS KILLED,” adding that from 2015 until today, a BDS resolution has not passed on any campus with an SSI chapter.
Throughout the night, viewers filled the comments section of a live stream of the AS meeting with messages of support for the Zionist students, including one user who commiserated with those “poor souls [who] have to stay up all night to debate supporting bigotry against Jews and a resolution that won’t do a single ounce of good for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
This was the fourth defeat of a boycott campaign at UCSB, which remains to date the only UC campus that has never passed a BDS motion in student government.
Last week, a pro-Israel peace mural at UCSB was twice vandalized by an unknown perpetrator with the phrase “Free Palestine.” (UCSB SJP maintained they were not involved in and condemned the incident.) This came after an “apartheid wall” erected by SJP on campus was exposed for featuring falsified quotes from Israeli leaders.
As of publication time, UCSB Divest had not commented on the result of Thursday’s vote.