The Blog


BDS Around the World - USA

The next chapter in an informative series about BDS

September 08, 2016

 IMG 5628

image: Wikipedia

The BDS movement manifests its activities in different ways. They have an innate ability to adapt their narrative and activities to the country that they are in. BDS feel a certain sense of pride in their activities and are not shy to boast about their plans.

Here is a glimpse of how BDS is manifesting around the world:

The United States

The US State Department has developed a very specific definition of anti-Semitism that includes the following:


Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation

Multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations


Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist

Official Government Response:

In February 2015, the "U.S.-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act" was introduced to Congress by Peter Roskam and Juan Vargas. According to its authors, the bill will "leverage ongoing trade negotiations to discourage prospective U.S. trade partners from engaging in economic discrimination against Israel" through the monitoring of pro-BDS activities of foreign companies that trade on American stock exchanges and by prohibiting American courts from "enforcing rulings made by foreign courts against American companies solely for conducting business in Israel." However, the bill does not actually impose penalties for supporting BDS. Roskam justified the bill, which may affect current negotiations for the Transatlantic Free Trade Area, stating that there are "an alarming number of countries within the European Union and beyond have embraced BDS as a form of economic warfare aimed to cripple Israel’s economy and demonize its very existence. These attacks not only threaten Israel but commercial relations across the globe." Another bill introduced in March 2015, the "Boycott Our Enemies, Not Israel Act," would require that contractors with whom the US government does business to certify that they do not participate in boycotts against Israel.

Illinois became the first state in the US to pass a bill that requires state pension funds to divest from companies that support BDS.

On 9 April 2015, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a resolution formally condemning BDS. The resolution passed the upper house by a vote of 30-0 and the lower house by a vote of 93-1. The resolution, the first of its kind to be passed by a state government, declared that BDS is "one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitism and advocating the elimination of the Jewish state" and "undermine[s] the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, which they are fulfilling in the State of Israel." The bill was introduced by State Senator Dolores Gresham and co-sponsored with State Representative Sheila Butt. In an interview, Gresham stated that the resolution is proof that the state legislature "chooses to preserve its values by publicly condemning this blatantly anti-Semitic, anti-Israel bigotry, and send a clear message that Tennessee condemns such views.”

In April 2015, the Indiana General Assembly passed a resolution that "condemns" the BDS movement for "seeking to undermine the Jewish people’s right to self-determination", "activities that contribute directly or indirectly to the denial, violation, or delegitimization of any people’s academic freedom", "agenda inherently antithetical and deeply damaging to the cause of peace, justice, equality, democracy, and human rights" and "promoting a climate of hatred, intimidation, intolerance and violence against Jews".

Academic institutions and campuses have become hotbeds of dangerous incitement and there was an increase in anti-Israel activity on American college campuses during the latest academic year with students actively working to promote Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel. Student groups that are well-known for their efforts to isolate the Jewish state advocated for a variety of BDS-related initiatives in an effort to push forward their agenda and punish Israel.

The most prevalent BDS initiative on campus involved the introduction of divestment resolutions and referenda by various anti-Israel student groups. Nineteen campuses held votes on such resolutions or referenda in the 2014-15 academic years. Although none of the resolutions or referenda are binding or are likely to alter university policy, support for these initiatives in some cases created a divisive atmosphere on campus.

While weeklong programs like “Israeli Apartheid Week” and “Palestine Awareness Week” continued to wane in popularity among anti-Israel students over the past year – as indicated by fewer schools participating and less general buzz around these programs – there was a significant increase in anti-Israel events overall.  520 explicitly anti-Israel events and programs took place nationwide on college campuses, representing a 30% increase from the previous academic year.  Well over 50% of these events focused various aspects of the BDS movement.

Below is an alphabetically organized list of the universities that considered divestment resolutions or referendums this year, including the results of these votes:'

Bowdoin College: A BDS referendum was voted down at Bowdoin College where 85% of the total student body reportedly voted. 71% were opposed to the referendum and 14% voted in favor of it.

DePaul University:  A BDS referendum was passed at DePaul University during the 2013-14 academic years, but their request was denied by the DePaul University Fair Business Practices Committee in January 2015.

Earlham College: A BDS resolution was reportedly endorsed by the Student Senate at Earlham College on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

Loyola University:  A BDS resolution was passed by the student government at Loyola University on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. The final vote was 16-15-2.

Marquette University:  A resolution titled “Recommendation #1 Socially Responsible Investment” was passed at Marquette University on April 28, 2015 with a vote of 25-3-0. The resolution did not mention the word ‘divestment’ or name specific corporations that are allegedly responsible for Palestinian human rights violations.

Northeastern University:  A BDS resolution was voted down by the Student Senate at Northeastern University with a 25-9 vote.

Northwestern University:  The Northwestern student government passed a BDS resolution on Wednesday, February 18, 2015. The vote was 24-22-3.

Oglethorpe University: The Student Government Association (SGA) at Oglethorpe University reportedly passed a BDS resolution submitted by Students for Justice in Palestine on Friday, May 1, 2015.

Princeton University:  A BDS referendum at Princeton University was voted down with 965 (47.5%) for divestment and 1,067 (52.5%) against divestment.

San Diego State University (SDSU): A BDS referendum proposed by SJP failed at SDSU. The vote count was 1701-1500 and SJP did not gain the 2/3 majority that they needed in order to pass it.

Stanford University: The Undergraduate Senate of Stanford University voted 10-4-1 to pass a BDS resolution submitted by the student group Stanford out of Occupied Palestine on Tuesday, February 17, 2015.

University of California-Davis (UC Davis): The UC Davis Student Senate passed a divestment resolution that was submitted by the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter on Thursday, January 29, 2015. The vote on the resolution was 8-2-2, but it was challenged and overturned by the student-led Court of Associated Students.

University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA): “A Resolution to Divest from Corporations Engaged in Violence against Palestinians” was passed by the UCLA student government. The resolution, which was reportedly sponsored by 15 student organizations and endorsed by another 17, was passed by an 8-2-2 margin on November 18, 2014.

University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB): A vote on a BDS resolution took place on April 22, 2015 at UC Santa Barbara. The result of the vote was 12-12-1 and the Internal Vice President Angela Lau broke the tie by voting no against the resolution.

University of California Student Workers Union (UAW 2865): The University of California Student Workers Union (UAW 2865) endorsed a divestment resolution on Thursday, December 4, 2014 calling on the UC Board of Regents to divest from companies that are allegedly profiting from or aiding in the Israeli occupation. The resolution also called for an end of U.S. aid to Israel and for UAW International to divest from the same corporations. The vote was 1411-749.

University of Michigan: A BDS resolution failed to pass at the University of Michigan after the Central Student Government voted 15-25 against endorsing the resolution which was presented by SAFE on April 3, 2015.

University of New Mexico: A BDS resolution at the University of New Mexico failed to pass with a vote of 4-14-2 on Wednesday, April 22, 2015.

University of Texas-Austin: A BDS resolution was voted down at UT-Austin with a vote count of 11-23 on April 22, 2015.

University of Toledo: A BDS resolution was passed by the student government at University of Toledo with a 21-4 vote on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. The same resolution had previously been ruled unconstitutional on Tuesday, February 17.

*This content was gathered and provided by Rolene Marks