The academic year closed with dramatic protests to shut down pro-Israel and free speech events. But other developments, the rejection of a BDS resolution and further association with the movement by the United Methodist Church, and the appointment of BDS supporters to the Democratic Party’s platform committee, show BDS is firmly an issue in the religious and political mainstream. The two Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton who denounced BDS before the Methodist vote, and Bernie Sanders, who appointed the BDS supporters to the Democratic Party platform committee, neatly illustrate the role of political leaders in suppressing and encouraging anti-Israel sentiment. The divide also portends a bitter divide within the party.
The most dramatic campus BDS protest in May took place at the University of California Irvine where pro-Israel students screened a film about the Israeli army. Some 50 BDS protesters including the local Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) chapters attempted to enter the room and effectively prevented others from leaving or entering while yelling “intifada, intifada — long live the intifada! F—k Israel and f—k the police,” “displacing people since ‘48/ there’s nothing here to celebrate,” and “all white people need to die.” After the film ended campus police escorted the pro-Israel students from the building. Students complained of feeling threatened by the protesters.
Accompanying the protesters were representatives of the National Lawyers Guild, who claimed “The protesters made no threats, destroyed no property, and listened to UCIPD when they said they needed an unobstructed exit.” SJP celebrated the incident saying it had “successfully demonstrated against the presence of IDF soldiers on campus,” and denied that the slogan “All white people need to die” had been used. more