Madeleine Steppel

This Tuesday, anti-Israel activists are set to introduce a resolution at Arizona State University to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against the State of Israel.

If students really care about the plight of Palestinians, they will reject this shortsighted measure.

On Friday, several ASU student groups were shocked to learn that four anti-Israel student senator activists plan to quietly introduce the BDS resolution at a meeting of the Tempe campus Undergraduate Student Government on Tuesday as “Senate Resolution 09.” Their efforts are part of a growing movement from California to New Jersey to pass similar anti-Israel BDS resolutions.

In November 2019, anti-Israel activists tried to pass a similar resolution through the ASU Undergraduate Student Government, but the resolution fortunately failed. It’s time to again soundly defeat the anti-Israel measure. BDS is wrong and actually undermines the Palestinian cause that it claims to help.

A conclusion shared by many organizations and leaders around the world, including the Anti-Defamation League, the governors of all 50 U.S. states and the mayor of Washington, D.C., is that BDS is anti-Semitic and bigoted. In a bipartisan joint statement, the governors said they “reject efforts to demonize and delegitimize Israel...through the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.” Last fall, echoing global sentiments, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism,” noting, “The United States is, therefore, committed to countering the Global BDS Campaign as a manifestation of anti-Semitism.”

Weeks ago, a courageous Palestinian activist, Bassam Eid, warned ASU students to reject any effort to resurrect the BDS resolution, writing, “Arizona State University... is under assault from anti-Israel radicals intent on demonizing Israel and the ASU Jewish community.” 

Jewish groups at ASU only learned about the resolution on Friday afternoon, just hours before the start of Shabbat at sundown, when many Jews put away their electronics and do not work for 25 hours. 

In a stealth move, the four ASU student senators launched the effort to introduce this resolution just days after Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Introducing this type of resolution this specific week has been a typical tactic on campuses across America. Among Jews, it is a time of deep reflection and remembering those murdered in the Holocaust, not a time of political action. Introducing the resolution this week is a subtle, yet clear attack on families like mine, whose relatives were murdered during the Holocaust. Yom HaShoah is completely unrelated to the plight of Palestinians then or now; the only reason to introduce a BDS measure this week is to intentionally hurt Jews and their families.

This resolution is of deep concern for the many Jewish students on ASU’s campuses -- like me. One reason I chose to attend ASU as a freshman this year is because the school and its administration have a history of being open to students of all creeds and backgrounds. As it says in our oft-quoted charter, we are “measured not by whom we exclude, but by whom we include.”

Passing any form of BDS legislation violates that promise. BDS is based on false assumptions, and it will not bring peace. The Senate should vote against this BDS resolution -- and any future iterations. It is anti-Semitic and belies our university’s values of fairness and inclusion. Singling out any one group for discrimination is dangerous and wrong.

Attempting to divide our university community with another BDS resolution undermines not only peace in the Middle East, but also ASU’s organizational mission. It sends a dangerous and false message that supporting Palestinian students requires hurting Jewish students.

Double standards have no place at ASU. Students should encourage their senators to firmly reject “Senate Resolution 09” on Tuesday.

Addendum after the vote

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, the ASU Undergraduate Student Government in Tempe held its final meeting of the 2020-21 academic year.

The president of USG, Katherine Hostal, refrained from putting Senate Resolution 09, which supported the boycott, divest and sanctions movement, on the official meeting agenda. She had determined that a BDS resolution was not under the purview of the student government.

The senators who supported the resolution were expected to attempt to force the resolution to a floor vote by a popular vote of the senators. Instead, the senators supporting BDS, realizing they did not have the votes to pass their resolution, boycotted the meeting, thus denying the senate a quorum.

By doing so, not only did they impede the senate from voting down the BDS resolution, but they also prevented the Senate from allocating the remaining portion of their $2 million annual budget from the 2020-21 academic year towards any other part of the university or towards the 2021-22 USG budget, thereby hurting ASU students from all walks of life in the process.

Even though no official action could be taken on any issue, Hostal opened the floor to public comment. Many people, from both sides of the issue, shared their opinions about BDS, with a majority against the movement. JN

Madeleine Steppel is a freshman at Arizona State University’s Barrett, the Honors College, with a double major in journalism and mass communication in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and religious studies, with a concentration in religion, politics and global affairs.