On May 11th, the BDS movement suffered a major defeat at the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) when a resolution to divest from Israel met with zero votes in favor. The tally on May 11th ended with 0 in favor, 15 against, and seven abstentions from the vote.
This was the fourth attempt at passing a divestment motion on UCSB’s campus, with each resolution having less support than the previous. The UCSB Student Senate rejected the BDS motion in 2015 by a vote of 13 to 12. The difference in the votes cast in favor of the BDS resolution in 2015 and its more recent counterpart illustrate the turning of the tide against BDS on college campuses.
The vote came after the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter on UCSB launched the campaign for this BDS resolution on “Yom HaShoah,” Holocaust Remembrance Day. This move was met with widespread condemnation from academic and Jewish communities across the United States. The SJP chapter claimed that the scheduling decision was made for “purely…pragmatic reasons.” This statement comes across as bizarre given the fact that the very same SJP chapter had attempted a BDS motion the year prior, also purposefully near Yom HaShoah.
More than one hundred students signed up to speak on May 11th, with many pointing to the accusations of anti-Semitism that surrounded the BDS resolution. The campus group Students Supporting Israel (SSI) made a large investment in helping to bring to light the reasons for the anti-BDS effort. SSI president Nate Erez said that the motion was “no more than a clever disguise to achieve a much more sinister agenda. This is a direct attack on the one Jewish state in the world.” This resolution also comes directly after two incidents on UCSB’s campus last week that helped shape the outcome of the vote. The first was the two cases of vandalism levied against a pro-Israel peace mural on campus. The second event was the erecting of an “apartheid wall” on campus which featured falsified quotes from Israeli leaders.