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April 11, 2018 4:52 pm

50 New York University Groups Pledge to Boycott Zionist Student Clubs, All Israeli Goods

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The New York University campus. Photo: Cincin12.

Fifty student groups at New York University pledged on Monday to boycott Zionist clubs on campus and all goods produced by Israelis, in an expression of support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign.

The coalition — led by the anti-Zionist group Students for Justice in Palestine — includes the African Student Union, Asian American Women’s Alliance, Black Students Union, College Libertarians, Divest for Climate Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and Muslim Students Association, among others.

The groups committed to “boycotting Israeli goods and goods manufactured in the Occupied Territories, except for those manufactured by Palestinians” — an effort that would overwhelmingly impact Jews in Israel and territories considered by the international community to be occupied, including eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.

They nonetheless asserted that BDS — which opposes the presence of a Jewish homeland in the Levant — “does not target the existence and economic activity of Jews in historic Palestine but rather goods and companies complicit in occupation and apartheid.”

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The coalition also agreed not to co-sponsor events with NYU’s pro-Israel clubs, Realize Israel and TorchPAC, and to boycott Zionist groups off-campus, including the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish civil rights organization. Israeli academic institutions and state-sponsored conferences were similarly blacklisted.

“We call on NYU to divest its holdings from companies and funds that are complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine,” the signatories urged. “BDS demands action by Israel to comply with international law.”

Rebecca Stern, president of TorchPAC, said her group was “disheartened” to be targeted “on the basis of differing opinions.”

“We believe in open and honest dialogue, and as such are saddened by the shutting down of differing opinions present in this resolution,” she told The Algemeiner. “Such a policy will only strengthen the divide between people who hold differing opinions on a very complicated issue.”

Stern suggested that the clubs who endorsed SJP’s campaign likely did so because they “ascribe to the notion of intersectionality, which is the interconnectivity of discrimination.” SJP supports Palestinian nationalism, and rejects Zionism, the movement for Jewish national self-determination.

“Our community is strong,” she added. “Every year we co-sponsor a ‘Rave in the Park’ with Realize Israel and other groups on campus. Through this, we will be showing support for our community and showing that we are not alone on this campus.”

Realize Israel likewise said it was “deeply saddened” by the coalition’s position,  and pledged to “never pursue a strategy of isolation towards any student organization at NYU.”

“All people should be entitled to express their beliefs and opinions on the basis of our constitutional rights,” it argued. “Boycotting will not lead to any constructive progress or dialogue between students or peoples.”

In November, the anti-Zionist group JVP urged students not to visit Israel on a trip organized by the school’s Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life, partly on the basis that it opposes BDS. More than 20 student groups pledged to comply, including NYU College Democrats.

Months earlier, student activists published a 50-page “NYU Disorientation Guide” that equated Zionism with racism and called on NYU to end its study abroad program in Tel Aviv.

SJP did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

This article was updated to reflect comments by Realize Israel.

On April 16, The Algemeiner received the following comment from a spokesperson for NYU:

“The University opposes any kind of boycott or official refusal by some student groups to interact with other student groups because of differing points of view. It is at odds with our traditions and values, especially our core belief in the free exchange of ideas.

Disagreement is a part of life; learning to build discourse in the face of disagreement is an essential part of the educational experience. We would suggest that student groups proposing the boycott to find a pathway forward to engage in constructive dialogue. The University, as always, stands ready to facilitate this.”

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