In April 2017, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and supporters of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement used the Jewish holiday of Passover to their advantage. They specifically chose this time of year to introduce anti-Israel divestment motions on various campuses in order to exclude Jews from the vote. The motions were brought forward suddenly and at a time when many Jewish students had traveled home for the holidays.
On April 9th, the night before Passover, SJP at Tufts University brought forward and passed an impromptu divestment resolution. SJP admitted that they had been working on the resolution all semester, but had only brought it forward once many of their own supporters could be present.
Three days later, on April 12th, during the week of Passover, BDS supporters at the University of Wisconsin (UW) motioned for a sudden divestment vote. Several members of the student council were strongly opposed to the motion due to the absence of many Jewish students. Rep. Diego Villegas walked out of the proceedings, stating: “This seems really vicious considering this legislation is… of great importance to members of the Jewish community, and they are not here because they are observing a holiday for themselves… And I am just disgusted by that action.” Despite their objections, the bylaws still passed its first round of voting.
The following day, on April 13th, while it was still Passover, BDS supporters at Concordia University hijacked the Jewish holiday with their own event.
“Passover Against Apartheid” was co-hosted by the Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA), the Concordia Student Union (CSU) and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR). The event included a discussion on ways to replace the famous, “Next Year in Jerusalem” line in the traditional Passover seder. This line has been sung by Jews at the end of the Passover seder for thousands of years.
The story of Passover celebrates the Israelite nation being taken out of slavery from Egypt, into their ancestral homeland, Israel. To eradicate “Jerusalem” from the end of the Passover seder, is to erase the story of the Jewish people.
Finally, on April 16th, on both Passover and Easter Sunday, SJP at Claremont College initiated an impromptu divestment vote. Fourteen senators were absent from the meeting, many of them due to religious observance of the two holidays. The Algemeiner reported that “Jewish student leaders … felt ambushed” by the unexpected vote.
SJP have been struggling to pass anti-Israel motions in student governments over the past year. It comes as no surprise that they have yet again stooped to underhanded means in order to exclude Jewish students, eradicate the Jewish narrative and push their agenda.