Blocking a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Resolution

OSU students, Matthew Frankel and Chad Chessin, spoke at a meeting of the JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Committee) this week. The students talked of their recent success of blocking a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) resolution on campus.

A divestment resolution that was to appear on the election ballot for the undergraduate student government at OSU was removed March 8 after it was found to be in violation of the student government’s constitution and election bylaws. A group called OSU Divest organized the divestment resolution.

Frankel said he was glad the student government’s constitution was followed and that the resolution was removed from the ballot. “At the end of the day, student government needs to follow their own bylaws. The resolution was found to be in violation of the constitution and election bylaws, so it was removed,” he said.

Frankel, who also serves as president of Buckeyes for Israel, said his organization has brought in speakers throughout the year to discuss Israel and that the group will continue its work on campus.
“This BDS situation has been a project that we’ve had to take into account, especially the last few weeks, but our strategy hasn’t really changed, which is getting the word out about Israel and educating people the best we can,” he said.

Three members of the Undergraduate Student Government Judicial Panel resigned after calling for a special election once the initial resolution failed to be on the ballot. Facing impeachment, they resigned before the General Assembly could vote on the matter. The housecleaning means that, at least for now, there won’t be a special campus election on the “Issue 1” divestment issue.

Elsewhere, The University of Toledo student government passed the first BDS resolution in Ohio in early March.
The Toledo chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) presented a proposed resolution to the student government in February calling on the university to divest from funds that invest in companies connected to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. During a closed meeting Feb. 17, the student government voted 5-4 that the proposed resolution was unconstitutional.

The pro-divestment group posted a long letter on its public Facebook page claiming the closed student government meeting wasn’t democratic and demanded that a new vote be presented in an open forum setting.
The UT student government provided an open forum meeting on March 3. Prior to the meeting, members of SJP promoted the resolution on social media using the hashtag #UTDivest. The student government voted 21-4 to pass the divestment resolution.

On Tuesday, March 31, the UT student senate voted to go forward with legislation that, if approved by the student body, will attempt to put pressure on the University to divest from Israel. Over 50 community members attended the Tuesday evening hearing on the resolution. They were there to show their support for the amazing Hillel students who spoke with passion and authority on why this referendum is damaging to them and the entire student body.
The Columbus JCRC commends the UT Hillel Students, the Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo, and various other community lay leaders who have been working tirelessly to combat the BDS effort at UT. We stand united with them as they continue to battle the anti-Semitic hatred that is evidenced by that effort.

For more information about the JCRC’s work on Israel advocacy, contact Bob Lane at blane@tcjf.org.