Thirty NYU clubs pledged not to apply to the NYU Tel Aviv study abroad program as part of a larger Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which protests Israel for its aggression toward Palestine.
The pledge claims that association with the study-abroad site makes students “complicit in the state of Israel’s targeted discrimination against activists and Palestinian and Muslim students,” referencing a ban issued by the Israeli government in January of members of groups that support the pro-Palestine BDS movement.
Around 25 to 35 students attend NYU Tel Aviv each semester, according to its website, so it is unclear what effect this pledge may have on the global site. However, it is part of a larger push by student activists to draw attention to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“The pledge is above all a coalition of clubs affirming their respect for the academic boycott of Israel,” Secretary of Students for Justice in Palestine Ben Zinevich, a CAS senior, said in a statement to WSN. “While people may view an act like this as symbolic regarding the scope of the campus, we would invert the idea and emphasize that a significant amount of NYU clubs are declaring that they understand Israel to be an immoral and apartheid state.”
Last semester, student government passed a resolution calling for NYU to take steps to ensure students have equal access to global sites and are protected at the Tel Aviv campus regardless of their religious affiliation, in response to the same ban of BDS supporters. Additionally, Senator-at-Large and CAS senior Rose Asaf announced on Twitter little more than a week ago that a resolution advocating for NYU’s participation in the BDS movement would reach student government in November.
Clubs such as Jewish Voices for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine have spearheaded incorporation of the BDS movement at NYU. Primarily Jewish student organizations like NYU Realize Israel and NYU TorchPAC see the BDS movement differently, and have thus been at odds with student activists over the issue.
In response to this recent announcement, President of NYU TorchPAC Rebecca Stern noted that students have not been denied entry to NYU Tel Aviv as of yet, and that encouraging others to not attend would only have a negative impact on the community.
“Boycotting an opportunity to learn and engage in the free exchange of ideas is contrary to the values of NYU and academic institutions at large,” she said. “To deny students the right to explore the facts, nuances and intricacies is a disservice to their own education and the academic community upon which NYU is founded.”
Zinevich said the pledge, in conjunction with the resolution set to be discussed in a student government meeting on Nov. 6, are tangible markers of a necessary broader discussion.
“With the topic finally being discussed on campus, people are speaking out against Zionist hegemony in the United States, and we’re just seeing that play out on campus,” Zinevich said.
Email Victor Porcelli at [email protected]