Well, that went rather well. After much finagling, the Student for Justice in Palestine had managed today (Wednesday, April 23, 2014) to bring in front of the Associated Student (AS) Council an
anti-Israel resolution targeting the usual US companies “supporting Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinians, and … bla-bla-bla”. One can admire the anti-Israel groups for their good
organizational level and their relentless enthusiasm at doing nothing more constructive than stirring up hatred against Israel, but one thing they lack is imagination. It’s the same stale,
accusatory, slogan-laced, excessively hyperbolic language used in every one of their resolutions, coast to coast. No one on the AS council yawned openly, but the results clearly showed that they
didn’t buy it. If anything, a majority of the senators expressed their distaste for the excessive language, the lack of supporting evidence and the overall sloppy work of the resolution
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The whole event started at 3:30 pm and ended around 9:00 pm, which overall was a record in speed compared to the almost all-nighters that had happened before at UCSD and other campuses.
Most of the afternoon was filled with a long string of statements made by proponents and opponents of the resolution. We had been informed that the time allotted was to be 2 minutes, only to learn upon entering into the meeting hall that it had been cut down to 1 minute! That was ridiculous. Try to make a cogent statement in 1 minute, let alone one meant to sway the opinion of on-the-fence senators! There was one way around this absurd rule, however, and that was when someone who had signed up to speak yielded his or her time to another speaker, allowing the latter to accumulate precious minutes. So some speakers ended up with 4 or 5 minutes, which is a lot better than just 1.
Be that as it may, the voices for both sides were roughly equal, and the pro-Israel students made excellent statements that balanced out the other, more emotional tones of the pro-Palestinians. Two professors spoke against. So did yours truly. On the other side, local anti-Zionist Miko Peled spoke and stayed until the end. The result must have been a bitter pill for him to swallow, not that I feel in any way sorry for him given the usual lies he presented (he enjoyed a 4 minute period). Oh, I almost forgot, Graubart spoke, too, and even if he didn’t make an impression, he of course declared himself in support of the resolution. I might add also that the pro-israel students had the backing of StandWithUs, Hillel, ADL and T.E.A.M., all represented in the room, together with several members of the community (who are to be thanked for having made the trek to SDSU for the occasion). Even though by and large they did a great job on their own without needing assistance, they knew they could count on our support and that they were not left to fight this battle alone.
Then came the crucial part. One of the council member who didn’t seem amused by this blatant attempt by SJP to hijack the SDSU AS for their narrow purposes pointed out that he had examined the resolution carefully and in particular checked every one of the links they had provided as “evidence” in support of their statements. And he had thus discovered that most were either faulty or inaccurate, or came from web sites with questionable reliability or reputation. One of the pro-Palestinian council members then dragged the council in a long, drawn-out procedural battle to “find” more reliable links. This went on until one of the pro-Israel students pointed out that maybe it wasn’t the council’s job to improve poorly drafted resolutions submitted for its approval! The council didn’t act on this fundamental remark immediately, but eventually it decided to vote against several more attempts to “improve” the content of the resolution, and finally decided to vote on the resolution itself.
While a few senators voted by simply saying “no”, most took their time to explain their votes. A clear majority defined itself quickly as opposed, most based on the fact that they found the text of the resolution offensive, crude and one-sided. In other words, the SJP shot themselves in the foot with their usual extremism. In the end, the verdict was without appeal: 16 against, 3 in favor and 3 abstentions. To call this therefore a crushing defeat for the BDS is an accurate depiction of what happened. Let’s note that while the pro-Palestinian side was loud, clapping when it was not supposed to, and would have undoudbtedly erupted in screams of joy if they had won, there was none of that on the part of the pro-Israel participants. It was very dignified. The satisfaction of having seen reason prevail among the AS members was its own, highly satisfactory reward.
Predictably, the Students for Justice in Palestine tried to mask their disappointment by clamoring that they would come back again and again until they have this resolution passed. We should take them at their word. They will indeed try again and again. But that does not mean that the next AS will be more sympathetic to their views and tactics, on the contrary. If anything, this council, like many others around the country, showed signs of irritation and antagonism at having to deal with this nonsense year after year when in fact it shouldn’t even be discussed by the AS since it doesn’t fall within the parameters of its mandate. With enough lobbying on our part, we can nurture the hope that the day will come when the AS will flatly refuse to let the pro-Palestinian students attempt to hijack it to their cause. The poisonous impact these attempts have on the campus population would therefore be nipped in the bud. It’s not impossible, and we should start working towards that goal right now.