Passage of ‘One-Sided’ Pro-BDS Resolution at Columbia Decried as ‘Deeply Irresponsible’
Undergraduate students at Columbia University in New York City have voted in favor of a referendum calling on their school to “divest its stocks, funds, and endowment from companies that profit from the State of Israel’s apartheid system and military occupation” in the Palestinian territories.
According to Columbia College’s student government, “the number of votes in favor of resolution (61.04%) exceeded both the number of votes against and in abstention.”
The referendum was an initiative of the “Columbia University Apartheid Divest” (CUAD) student group — a “joint campaign launched by Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine and Columbia/Barnard Jewish Voice for Peace.”
Voting began last Tuesday and ran through Friday — during the Jewish High Holy Days. Shortly before the start of the vote, Columbia’s student newspaper issued a statement apologizing for a pro-Israel ad opposing the measure it had run that it called “deeply inappropriate.”
Celebrating the referendum’s passage, CUAD posted the election results and congratulated itself on “[p]assing divestment by an incredible margin.”
It then published a photo of students covering a sculpture in the middle of Columbia’s campus with keffiyehs and Palestinian flags.
In response to the vote, Columbia Hillel’s Executive Director Brian Cohen told The Algemeiner, “The process and language of this referendum was one-sided. Its reference to an inapplicable UN apartheid resolution was deeply irresponsible.”
“At a University committed ‘to advanc[ing] knowledge and learning at the highest level’ this referendum does the opposite,” he added.
The Students Supporting Israel (SSI) branch at Columbia said, “It is with a heavy heart that we have learned of Columbia College’s decision to divest from companies who do business in Israel. The news is extremely saddening, as this is not the decision that we wanted nor that we worked so hard for.”
SSI continued, “It is an extremely saddening realization that antisemitism on our campus is not only a forgivable offense but an acceptable, celebratory alternative view to hold. It is an extremely saddening realization that our fellow students — of ivy league level — do not understand why boycotting Israel, but not any other country is a blatant double standard. More so than ever, we are worried about the future — we know that antisemitic attacks increase by x percent after BDS resolutions pass.”
“But, this is not the end. We, Students Supporting Israel will continue to do what we do best; support, celebrate, and advocate for our homeland. We will, more so than ever, continue to get the message out: Anti-Zionism is antisemitism; Jews have a right to a homeland of their own indigenous rights, and Israel does have a right to exist. Going into the New Year, we’re looking forward to fighting back, speaking up louder, and advocating for Israel,” SSI concluded.
Columbia’s President Lee Bolinger commented that while he was an “unflinching proponent of robust debate over contested issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict between Israelis and Palestinians,” changing Columbia’s endowment “in order to advance the interests of one side is not among the paths we will take.”
CUAD did not immediately respond to a request for a comment from The Algemeiner.