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Letter to the Editor: Students should boycott against Israeli influences

ASU students should support the 'Boycott, Divest, and Sanction' movement

Letter to the editor graphic

"Dear State Press, you've got mail." Illustration published on Friday, March 3, 2017.  

All over the world, faculty associations, universities and student governments are considering academic boycotts of Israel due to the Middle Eastern country’s well-documented atrocities against, and colonization of, the indigenous Palestinian people.

ASU took up this issue in 2012 when the Undergraduate Student Government voted to divest from Israel. 

In response, pro-Israel lobbies in Arizona and around the country have pushed state governments to pass laws that forbid public universities from supporting the “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” (BDS) movement.

By threatening University funding, these laws silence criticism of the crimes of Israel against the Palestinians. 

The anti-BDS law was signed by Gov. Doug Ducey in Arizona in 2016 and is currently working its way through legal challenges that it violates public employees’ First Amendment rights. The case was heard by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in June, but the court has not yet released an opinion. 

Regardless of whether this law or a similar law holds up, ASU students should support the BDS movement and push for a full academic boycott of Israel. 

Additionally, student clubs should refuse to work with other clubs that support the Israeli occupation of Palestine, regardless of the political controversy such a move might provoke. 

In what may come as a surprise to those who consider ASU an apolitical campus, the University boycotted another apartheid state when it was controversial to do so — South Africa in 1985. 

At the time, the African National Congress, led by Nelson Mandela, was classified as a terrorist group by the American and South African governments because it was helping lead a vast grassroots movement of Africans to topple the racist settler-colonial system. 

So, when those who support the modern-day BDS movement against Israel are accused of “supporting terrorism,” it’s worth noting what an ideologically charged accusation it is. 

How is the Israeli bulldozing of Palestinian homes and routine murder of Palestinian civilians not "terrorism?"

Similarly, the charge of anti-Semitism does not hold. Some Jewish organizations, such as Jewish Voice for Peace, support the BDS movement

The state of Israel does not represent the world’s Jewish population, nor does the state of Israel even represent all Israeli Jews. The right-wing Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, enjoys complete U.S. support from both political parties. The support which has kept him in power despite numerous electoral challenges and an ongoing corruption probe against him.

ASU students supporting the BDS movement do not support terrorism and do not support anti-Semitism. When ASU students support BDS, we support the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination against a US-backed apartheid regime. 

Instead of caving in to government attempts to silence dissent, ASU students should take heed from our predecessors in 1985 and drive for a comprehensive boycott of Israeli universities, clubs, technology, research partnerships and cultural exchange until the Palestinian nation is freed from oppression.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this letter to the editor are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The  State Press or its editors. This letter to the editor was submitted by  Sebastian Miscenich, Chair of Students for Socialism at ASU. 

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