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April 1, 2022 4:18 pm
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Students at Ohio State University Push Back Against ‘Emergency’ BDS Measure

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

University Hall at Ohio State University. Photo: OZinOH/Flickr

Students at the Ohio State University (OSU) are urging the student government to reject an effort to divest from two companies operating in Israel.

On Wednesday night, according to the campus newspaper The Lantern, the OSU Undergraduate Student Government’s General Assembly debated an “emergency resolution” demanding the university divest its holdings in Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Caterpillar Inc., which it accused of abetting alleged human rights abuses of Palestinians.

The session, which adjourned late at night before the measure could be introduced, was attended by 200 students during an open forum, The Lantern reported.

In a petition posted Wednesday on Change.org, a group calling itself OSU Students described the resolution as “hateful” — arguing that it would stoke antisemitism on campus while undermining the university’s mission to foster “a more inclusive campus while doing nothing to advance peace” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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“At a time when antisemitism is at its highest rate since the 1970s and an uptick in anti-Israel sentiment has been linked to a substantial increase in antisemitic violence, endorsing the BDS movement ostracizes Jewish students for supporting their indigenous homeland,” OSU Students said. “BDS has been most successful in fanning the flames of antisemitism worldwide. With antisemitic attacks up 90% in 2022 compared to 2021, we must do everything in our power to ensure are safe against bigoted attacks.”

OSU Students’ petition, which on Friday had over 350 signatures, also said the resolution’s advancement through OSU SGA was shrouded in secrecy even as it “alienated” Jewish students “simply for supporting Israel’s right to exist.”

Chabad at OSU executive director Levi Andrusier told The Algemeiner on Friday the OSU community should focus its efforts “on helping victims of the Ukrainian crisis.”

“We at the Schottenstein Chabad House feel ashamed that our students need to use their time and energy to address a BDS ‘Emergency Motion’ in condemnation of Israel,” Andrusier said. “It’s plainly wrong to address any attention on condemning Israel with a BDS motion during these times. The fact that this motion was about to be filed does not shed a positive light on those who sought to refocus attention on this issue. The fact that this needs to be stated at all, is more than a bit painful.”

OSU SGA has weighed similar measures before, The Lantern reported. In December 2018, it rejected a resolution demanding a ban on Israeli food products by Sabra Dipping Company LLC, as well as a boycott of Hewlett Packer and Caterpillar Inc. A previous measure that passed but was never implemented would have established a committee to investigate OSU’s relationships with corporations that have economic ties to Israel.

One student at the forum who spoke in favor of the resolution argued the university “should not be investing in companies that continue to dehumanize and contribute to the prevention of medical care in overall violation of any group’s human rights, specifically Palestinians,” according to The Lantern.

A university spokesperson told the student outlet that OSU follows “all applicable laws regarding investments” and that it encourages “discussion and debate” on campus.

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