Opposition to the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) on college campuses is growing; a petition signed by over 120 faculty and staff members at the University of California calls for UAW 2865, the union chapter representing 13,000 mainly graduate workers at UC campuses, to reject a ballot today asking the union to join the “global BDS movement.”
Twelve emeritus professors signed the petition, which protested:
…selectivity of focus of the UAW Joint Council on Israel as the sole target of a BDS effort in a world that is replete with states that misuse power … (the BDS measure) fails to distinguish between Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Israel’s right to exist within secure and recognized borders … The targeting of Israeli academic institutions–bastions of a wide range of scholarly talent and viewpoints–will effectively stifle one of the most progressive elements in Israeli society and will bring an end to cooperation with Palestinian individuals, institutions, and organizations.
A video produced by informedgrads.org, a group of UAW 2865 members who oppose BDS, shows the vitriol of BDS supporters, including Oakland BDS activist Lara Kiswani, who said, “Bringing down Israel really will benefit everyone in the world, everyone in society, particularly the workers.” Kiswani freely admits that BDS wants to eliminate Israel as a sovereign state, adding, “colonialism entails all of occupied Palestine, from Haifa to Jerusalem to Ramallah.”
In the video, another fervent Israel-hater, Michael Letwin of the group “Labor for Palestine,” promulgates the incredible calumny that the Zionist movement, not the Nazis, was responsible for the deaths of six million Jews in Europe. He says Zionists made deals with the “Nazi regime to bring in Jewish settlers to Palestine while sacrificing the vast majority of European Jews to the Holocaust.” That canard originated from anti-Zionist propaganda in the former Soviet Union.
Informedgrads has said that the UAW 2865 Joint Council has ignored basic democratic procedures, “already sponsoring BDS and anti-Israel activities without waiting for the vote.” The group noted that the union was involved in attending and endorsing anti-Israel demonstrations, such as violently blocking Israeli ships from docking in Oakland, and had used roughly $50,000 of union money to support the BDS campaign, the “redirecting of political capital that should be used to push our university administrators to improve our working conditions.”
The ballot paper before the UAW asserts that the union should join the global BDS movement “until such time as Israel has complied with international law and respected the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and all Palestinians refugees and exiles.”
The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) has informed UAW 2865 and the UC schools that if the union votes for the proposal, they “are on notice that any actions taken against Israeli individuals or institutions could result in legal action,” citing “state and federal laws and policies preventing national-origin discrimination.”
The ACLJ had already written the University of California warning the schools to ensure that Israeli scholars and students would be protected from discrimination and asked the UAW to block the inherently discriminatory actions of its local chapter.