America’s “most Jewish” secular college votes to divest from Israel

A display erected by students at Barnard College and Columbia University in protest of Israeli apartheid. (photo: Godland / Mint Press News)

One-third of Barnard College’s students are Jewish, the highest proportion among secular colleges in the United States.

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | Apr 24, 2018

While the school administration will not move forward with the call to divest, it has nonetheless caused concern among pro-Israel activists that the results will embolden BDS activists, as the vote has been hailed as a major victory for the movement.

Students at Barnard College just voted overwhelmingly to ask the school’s administration to divest from and boycott eight companies that do business with Israel and profit from the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. Barnard, a women’s college that is part of Columbia University, passed the referendum by a 64 to 36 percent margin, with about half of the school’s students participating in the vote — a turnout much higher than in previous votes on the subject, perhaps reflecting Israel’s recent shooting of more than 2,000 unarmed Gazan protesters.

The result of the vote is being hailed as a major victory for Palestinian-rights movement BDS, the campaign to boycott, divest and sanction Israel for its violations of international law in Palestine.

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Push for divestment from Israel met with resistance at Columbia University

Members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) speak on behalf of Columbia University Apartheid Divest on Mar 19, 2018. (photo: Columbia Spectator)

The presenters invoked Barnard and Columbia’s history of being the first colleges to divest from South African apartheid and more recently from private prison systems in the United States.

By Valentina Rojas-Posada | Columbia Spectator | Mar 20, 2018

“I believe that racism, white supremacy, and settler colonialism are evils upon this world. . . . It shouldn’t be how our college is investing it’s money — our money should be reflecting the values of Barnard students.”
— Caroline Oliver, Barnard College sophomore

Columbia-Barnard Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine urged Barnard’s Student Government Association to encourage the Barnard administration to boycott, divest, and sanction companies that profit from or contribute to the subjugation of Palestinian people at an SGA meeting on Monday night.

The groups that collectively launched the Columbia University Apartheid Divest campaign in 2016 requested to meet with SGA several weeks ago and were offered a time to speak. After the release of the SGA meeting’s agenda on Sunday, the executive board of Columbia/Barnard Hillel, a Jewish students group, encouraged its members to attend the meeting to ensure their viewpoint was also represented.

Over 150 students attended, both in support and in contention of the presentation for the “Boycott, Divest, Sanctions” movement. . . .

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