The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (“BDS”) Movement, which in effect is a form of political and economic warfare, demands disparate treatment of Israeli institutions and their representatives. As benign as “BDS” might sound, it is nothing less than a coordinated form of invidious discrimination (based on race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion) against not only the nation of Israel but also Jews and Christians who support Israel, aimed at delegitimizing and vilifying Israel across the globe.
Recently, there has been a proliferation of aggressive behavior by pro-BDS groups and individuals toward pro-Israel groups and individuals, including (and perhaps especially) on university campuses throughout the United States. As more student government associations have voted to support the BDS Movement, some students have celebrated the decision with the rallying cry of “Allahu Akbar”—directed specifically at Jewish students—while others have repeatedly interrupted and harassed Jewish students during their organizations’ activities and events on campus.
The ACLJ was recently called upon to act on behalf of the many Jewish university students feeling the harmful effects of the BDS movement by defending a Jewish student*, accused by none other than a pro-BDS student, of violating university rules of conduct. The student’s allegedly harmful behavior? Expressing, in a clear but entirely non-threatening manner, her displeasure at being targeted and harassed because of her ethnicity and religion.
Rather than attempt to obtain all the relevant facts, including from either the Jewish student or the student to whom she expressed her feelings, the University accepted the statements of another biased individual who allegedly witnessed the communication (and is known to the University to be part of a pro-BDS campus organization) and assessed against the Jewish student serious allegations of misconduct that threatened potential ruin to both her reputation and her future professional life. Faced with the daunting task of having to successfully defend herself or accept an egregious (and entirely unwarranted) black mark on her academic record, the student reached out to the ACLJ for assistance.
We immediately contacted the University and demanded that the allegations against the student be dismissed. As we pointed out, while the student was entirely justified in expressing her feelings, the University, well aware of the recent aggression by pro-BDS students toward Jewish students on campus, including the student in question, lacked any justification for its decision to assess such serious allegations on the basis of nothing more than the conjecture, speculation, and hyperbolic statements of none other than a student associated with a pro-BDS campus organization. We explained, in no uncertain terms, that the University’s failure to take the necessary steps to immediately resolve the matter without further action against the Jewish student would inevitably open it up to exacting scrutiny, in both the court of law and the court of public opinion, regarding the discriminatory treatment of Jewish students on its campus.
We are pleased to report that the University, after receiving our letter, accepted the Jewish student’s explanation of the events in question, acknowledged the premature nature of the decision to assess misconduct charges against her, and dismissed the allegations without further action.
The discriminatory treatment of Jewish students and other pro-Israel individuals inherent in the BDS movement cannot be tolerated by a democratic society, including the educational institutions preparing young adults to be productive members of that society. The ACLJ is proud to stand in defense of liberty on behalf of this Jewish student and all those targeted by the invidiousness of the BDS movement.
* The ACLJ has agreed to protect the identity of the student and has agreed to withhold the name of the student and the school involved.
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