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SFSU Student Government Passes BDS Resolution

Jewish Journal

Aaron Bandler

Nov. 18, 2020



San Francisco State University’s (SFSU) student government passed a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution on November 18.


According to journalist Gabriel Lorenzo Greschler, the resolution passed with 17 votes in favor, one against and two abstentions.


The resolution, which was authored by the university’s General Union of Palestinian Students, calls for the university to divest from more than 100 companies that conduct business with Israeli settlements in the West Bank, according to the Jewish News of Northern California.


Jewish groups denounced the passage of the resolution. The Stop Antisemitism.org watchdog tweeted that the resolution’s passage shows that “San Francisco State University prioritizes terror and hatred over the safety of their Jewish students.”


San Francisco Hillel Executive Director Rachel Nilson Ralston said in a statement to the Journal, “This resolution has, sadly, had a real and negative impact on our students’ wellness and experience of their campus. Their health, safety, and inclusion remain SF Hillel’s biggest concern. This resolution was particularly upsetting, given the challenges they’ve already faced this semester and the fact that the resolution is symbolic. Those actually responsible for SF State’s investments will not let BDS resolutions affect their stewardship. But BDS’s real danger is that it seeks to influence the open hearts and minds of tomorrow’s leaders from a one-sided, deeply biased narrative against Israel.”


Ralston praised Jewish students for speaking out against the resolution despite “facing appalling attacks against their identity, Israel’s right to exist, and Jewish self-determination,” and she was glad there was “nuance and curiosity in our closed-door conversations with student government representatives.” However, student government leaders faced “extreme pressure and bullying tactics from activists from across the country who showed up to support this biased platform. The fact that the chat had to be shut down because of the constant onslaught of hateful comments (like “Death to Israel” and “Long Live the Intifada!”) and that the fact that representatives voted unanimously to vote by secret ballot demonstrates how toxic the environment is. It’s why we’re continuing our efforts with SF State to take bold action to improve the campus discourse,” Ralston said.


StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “We’re proud of SFSU Jewish students who have faced far too much hate this year and still spent countless hours fighting BDS campaigns. It’s shameful that the student government followed an SFSU event with convicted terrorist Leila Khaled that normalized violence against Israeli civilians by contributing to a movement that seeks the elimination of Israel. It’s clearer than ever that the administration has a lot of work to do to confront hatred on their campus and help Jewish students feel safe.”


AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin also said in a statement, “BDS resolutions like these carry zero weight; their sole intention is to marginalize and ostracize Jewish and pro-Israel students from the ‘accepted’ campus community and, hence, silence all pro-Israel voices on campuses. And this vote made that crystal clear. Since student government meetings are held virtually during COVID, activists from outside SFSU were able to helicopter in via zoom to shout ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Long Live the Intifada’ and student representative felt so intimidated they decided to vote by secret ballot. Our research indicates there is a strong correlation between BDS promotion and incidents of anti-Semitic harassment, assault, vandalism, and bullying. And while the anti-Semitism spewed today may be protected under the First Amendment, the ensuing harassment of Jewish students must be immediately addressed by SFSU leadership.”


The university did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.


Read the article here.

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