CUNY pro-BDS vote shelved after heated Friday evening debate

( A last-minute resolution to divest from Israel at the City University of New York (CUNY) was shelved Friday night following a strong presence at the vote by pro-Israel supporters despite the start of Shabbat. 

The Doctoral Students' Council (DSC) of CUNY, which represents more than 4,700 members of the graduate school from across the CUNY system, announced earlier in the week that the last minute divestment vote will take place Friday, September 12 at 6 p.m.

The CUNY graduate center. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Many pro-Israel students raised concerns that the vote's scheduled start time was set to just before Shabbat, as well as the fact that no materials where handed out ahead of time to help students prepare. According to Dominique Nisperos, the DSC's co-chair for communications, that was done out of "environmental concerns," the Washington Free Beacon reported. 

The proposed resolution, titled “The Endorsement of Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions,” calls on the CUNY system to endorse a “boycott of Israeli academic institutions and the divestment from Israeli companies,” as well to end academic partnerships with Israeli institutions such as the one between Baruch College and Israel’s College of Management and Academic Studies.

The resolution also expresses support for “Palestinian students and academics in their struggle against the Zionist policies of the Israeli state and its restrictions.”

After a lengthy heated debate on Friday evening that included additional time for both sides to present their arguments, a motion was eventually passed to table the resolution for a future date.

Despite the vote's difficult timing for observant Jews, a number of pro-Israel groups did turn out to support CUNY students, as well as faculty members who opposed the resolution.

“It is a routine tactic of the BDS movement to hold votes on or around Jewish holidays in order to shut out pro-Israel voices,” Israel on Campus Coalition Executive Director Jacob Baime, who attended the vote, told “When the facts are known, BDS fails.”

Baime added that he is proud of the CUNY students and faculty for their strong showing despite having little time to prepare. 

“I am proud of the CUNY students and faculty who defeated this anti-peace resolution,” he said. “The campus community can make a meaningful contribution to peace, and BDS does not do that. It is divisive and tears the campus apart."

Posted on September 13, 2014 .