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Anti-Israel divestment vote fails spectacularly at Ohio State

7-30-3 student government vote

When students have to attach their names, the vote goes a little differently.

Ten months after approving a watered-down anti-Israel resolution on a secret ballot, Ohio State University’s Undergraduate Student Government decisively rejected a resolution to divest from and boycott companies that “benefit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

Wednesday night’s vote was seven in favor, 30 against and three abstentions, according to pro-Israel group StandWithUs, correcting reporting by Jewish Telegraphic Agency that conflated “no” votes and abstentions.

Unlike January’s resolution, this one called on the administration to halt business with specific companies: security firm G4S, heavy equipment maker Caterpillar, hummus brand Sabra and “Hewlett-Packard,” a technology company that hasn’t existed for three years. It claims OSU invests in all four based on a 9-year-old financial statement.

Anti-Israel BDS resolution considered in Ohio State Undergraduate Student Government by The College Fix on Scribd

More controversially, it demanded an academic boycott against Israeli universities, “including cancellations of currently invited speakers and visiting professors, and to end existing programs or relationships with Israeli universities.”

It said Israeli universities “make justifications for colonization and ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians” and develop systems and “military doctrines.”

Student President Shamina Merchant and Vice President Shawn Semmler publicly denounced the resolution the afternoon before the vote, saying it would hurt students “and their opportunities for scholarships, research, and field experiences”:

It stands against the core principle of academic freedom, and we are concerned about the exclusionary language used to address our educators on campus.

After the vote, StandWithUs alleged that the International Socialist Organization, which has offered “unconditional support” for Hamas, “was heavily involved in this campaign.” ISO’s Columbus Facebook page shows the group held a rally before the vote and recorded video from the student government meeting.

In a Facebook post right after the vote, StandWithUs said multiple senators “spoke out about how BDS would be inviting a new wave of antisemitism on campus.”

Protect OSU, a student group initially formed to oppose a campuswide divestment referendum, said the Wednesday rejection means boycott, divestment and sanction “has now been defeated 5 times at OSU. It is clear that OSU’s student body is categorically opposed to BDS, and the movement has no place on our campus.”

It posted video from the meeting.

MORE: Divestment resolution passes OSU student government on secret ballot

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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