Students at Bath University in the UK voted against a motion to boycott Israel, while students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison did the opposite.
Students at Bath University have voted down a motion to adopt boycotts on Israel.
The UK’s Jewish Chronicle reported that the motion, which described Israel as an “apartheid regime,” was rejected by 343 votes to 249 with 216 abstentions.
The motion called for the institution’s student body to “end all contracts with companies and institutions complicit in the apartheid and lobby the university to do the same”.
The motion was one of 10 voted on by the university’s students at a meeting earlier this month, and it was the only one that failed to pass, the JC reported.
Yoni Chitiyat, acting president of the Bath Jewish student body, said that they reached out to other societies and friends, which is how they won.
“It was important that we speak out against it and defend Israel proudly on campus, even though it was very difficult with a lot of anti-Israel rhetoric going on. We hope that it will set a precedent for future students coming here and for other student unions,” he stated, according to the JC.
Thinly Veiled Anti-Semitism at University of Wisconsin
In the meantime, the student government of the University of Wisconsin-Madison unanimously passed a divestment resolution targeting companies operating in many countries that included an amendment specifically about Israel, JTA reported Thursday.
The resolution, passed last Wednesday by the Associated Students of Madison by a 24-0 vote with two abstentions, calls on the university and its foundation to divest from companies involved in private prisons, arms manufacture, fossil fuels and border walls, as well as banks that “oppress marginalized communities.”
The vote comes a month after a boycott resolution specifically targeting Israel had failed to pass, according to JTA.
Wednesday’s resolution incorporated language negotiated upon between Jewish student leaders and the authors to target unethical corporations in more general terms, without attacking Israel.
However, during the open forum discussion prior to the vote, some students called for the resolution to be amended to include specific countries and issues, the Daily Cardinal student newspaper reported.
During debate on the resolution, anti-Israel activists called the Jewish community “oppressors” and said that Jewish students oppose divestment against Israel because it threatens their “white privilege.”
A Jewish member of the Associated Students of Madison (ASM) was also publicly targeted and harassed by other members of the student government during the meeting, according to the university’s branch of Hillel, the largest Jewish campus organization.
“The behavior of members of ASM to publicly target and harass the Jewish students and in particular the one Jewish student on ASM was reprehensible,” the university Hillel’s executive director, Greg Steinberger, said in a statement. “We look forward to engaging the university and the state in a review of what happened tonight at the ASM meeting.”
An Unbinding Motion
The university administration said after the vote that the resolution is nonbinding and will not result in a change in university policies or its approach to investing.
“We are concerned that the actions taken tonight appear to violate a ruling of the Student Judiciary; Jewish members of student government, who raised this issue with the Student Judiciary, walked out of the meeting after expressing concerns that the process was undemocratic and not transparent,” the statement said.
“UW-Madison values and welcomes members of all faiths and identities. We have heard clearly from the Jewish community how targeted they feel by the actions of the last month. Chancellor [Rebecca] Blank has made clear her opposition to the concept of BDS and academic boycotts,” the statement read
Several colleges and universities have passed resolutions calling for a boycott of Israel, but overall, the attempt to boycott Israel academically has failed.
However, anti-Israel activities on US campuses has significantly increased on-campus anti-Semitism.