Anti-Israel Activity on Campus: 2009 in Review
Boycott & Divestment Efforts Proliferate
Posted: February 1, 2010
Campuses nationwide saw a spike in boycott and divestment activity targeting Israel in the wake of Israel's military action in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009. Through petitions, resolutions and other efforts to promote boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel, students and faculty attempted to steer university and public support away from Israeli and Israel-affiliated institutions.
Campus divestment efforts gained some traction in the spring, following a decision by Hampshire College to disinvest from a mutual fund with ties to Israel that prompted Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a student group that had been pushing for divestment at Hampshire, to claim victory.
Despite Hampshire's insistence that its investment decisions were unrelated to Israel, the campaign was still perceived as successful and reinvigorated similar campaigns on other American colleges and universities.
In the fall, SJP attempted to capitalize on momentum surrounding the Hampshire initiative by organizing a conference at Hampshire devoted to boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. SJP also co-organized with the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation a tour that promoted these efforts on three other college campuses.
The U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, an academic boycott campaign formed by 13 professors in California, was also formed in 2009. The campaign calls on American colleges and universities to refrain from associating with Israeli universities.
Calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts against Israel were also recurring themes at rallies and demonstrations organized on campuses in response to Israel's winter offensive in Gaza.
These efforts were unsuccessful in their demands for divestment efforts or large-scale boycotts, but many garnered significant support and media attention, in some cases emboldening students and faculty elsewhere to launch new initiatives.