Pro-Palestinian campaigners at Cornell University scheduled a Student Assembly vote on a far-reaching boycott of Israeli settlements to take place as Jewish students were busy celebrating the Passover holiday, a prominent legal commentator said.
William A. Jacobson, a Cornell law professor and founder of the popular political blog Legal Insurrection, reported on Wednesday that the resolution had been added to the updated agenda for a student assembly meeting scheduled for the next day, allegedly in an attempt to catch pro-Israel student groups unprepared.
“The Resolution was proposed at the last possible minute, with a surprise committee vote presentation (assisted by the President of the Assembly, I’m told) enabling it to be listed as ‘new business’ for a meeting tomorrow afternoon,” he wrote in a blog post.
The holiday begins next Monday night and many Jewish students were planning to leave the Cornell campus on Thursday and head back home to celebrate the festival with their families.
Jacobson reported that “Resolution 72: Resolution Urging Cornell University to Divest from Companies Profiting from Israeli Occupation and Human Rights Violations” was proposed by the Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine and was included at the last minute in the agenda for Thursday afternoon as “new business,” meaning that it could not actually be voted on in the same meeting. However, the motion could be raised for vote the following week on April 17, just one day after Jewish students return to the campus, leaving them little time for the pro-Israel among them to organize a blocking move.
“I don’t think the sneak Passover attack will work, but what’s important is that they tried it,” he wrote. “That tells you everything you need to know about the desperation of the BDS movement and what they really are about.”
The resolution lists various companies as examples of those that should be boycotted, including SodaStream, which has a production line in Ma’ale Adumim, and US defense contractor Raytheon, which supplies the IDF with equipment.
The motion concludes “that Cornell University will end its complicity with the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and divest its holdings from the aforementioned companies and any other companies that profit directly from Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Moreover, Cornell University will not make further investments in companies that materially support or profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.”
Pro-Israel student groups responded by trying to rally their members to attend the student assembly meeting in an effort to stop the resolution and also by organizing an online petition against the proposal. The petition called the resolution “inaccurate and intentionally inflammatory in title” and said that it “undermines academic freedom and Cornell’s continued interest in collaboration with Israeli academic institutions… and delegitimizes and promotes misinformation about Israel.”