BDS Fails; Social Responsibility Succeeds



Luke Brose contributed to this report.


Students for Justice in Palestine succeeded in seeing their resolution on transparency of the University of Minnesota’s investment policy pass through student government on Tuesday, but not in the form they envisioned.

SJP’s divestment resolution was added to the agenda from the floor of the Minnesota Student Association. The resulting debate saw forum end at 8 p.m., two hours past the scheduled close of business.

The original resolution, sponsored by 34 student groups, called on the university to be more transparent in regard to its investments to help avoid investing in companies complicit in human rights violations. The controversy arose from the resolution’s specific targeting of companies doing business with Israel, and SJP specifically stating on its website that, “Our campaign is in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which was initiated by the Palestinian Civil Society in 2005 until Israel complies with international law.”

Debate was quite heated and emotional, with personal stories aplenty. Some members of forum seemed to forget that student government is in fact an elected body and a public forum representing the students of the University of Minnesota.

”I’m Palestinian, I’m part of SJP, I could stand here and tell you how someone is recording me right now how someone is taking my name down,” SJP member Mariam El-Khatib yelled.

An amendment was introduced which removed language targeting specific companies, countries, and regions. The amendment passed by a vote of 37-30. The rest of the resolution remained largely intact, but that was not sufficient for SJP and their co-sponsors all removed their names from the resolution.

“If [SJP] truly wanted social responsibility and transparency, then the compromise should have been very satisfactory to everyone,” Gabriel Levy, the MSA representative for the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, said, “It truly came to show what their actual agenda was really about.”

The edited resolution passed MSA by a vote of 45-16, with seven abstentions. Levy and Students Supporting Israel President Sami Rahamim, were added as authors following the amendment, and were the only two listed at the conclusion of forum.

SJP declined to comment for this story.