Okay, this has become an extremely controversial thing at the college where I do some adjunct teaching. I understand that this is a movement intended to (without trying to be too political here) push Israel into treating Palestinians better, but I’m a little confused about some of the details.
The background, where I am concerned anyway: There was recently an email to the entire college “community” (me included) from the college president. Many people on campus, the letter read, had strong feelings about BDS, and that was wonderful because debate was always a good thing, but maybe people needed to dial it back a little because the rhetoric was getting awfully heated.
Well, “heated” was right. AIUI, the student government was asked to consider a motion to express support (on behalf of all the students) for the BDS movement. Which it did. It was then asked to consider a motion that would require student organizations that received funding via student government to spend none of that money with Israel or corporations that do business with Israel. (I think that’s right. I’m a little fuzzy about some of the details.)
The president and the dean of students then got into the act. They said that this was against state law (NY state), and said that if the resolution was passed they would strip the student government of the right to fund student organizations. At this point thirty-odd faculty members signed a petition urging that student government be allowed to do what it wants and needs to do. I believe that the cutting-off-funding measure was defeated by the student government, but only because a supermajority was needed.
And this, I believe, is where we stand right now.
So, what is this movement all about? How similar is it to the divest-from-South-Africa movement I remember from my own college days (late seventies/early eighties)? I’ve done some googling but am having trouble wading through the high emotions that seem to surround this issue. Can anyone explain what the issues are in clear and simple terms, or direct me to a site that does so? --No need to try to parse the political issues specific to this college, but a good overview of what the supporters of the movement are trying to achieve, and how, would be very helpful. Thanks in advance.