NYU student union passes anti-Israel divestment resolution—by secret ballot

The demonization of Israel by American college students continues apace. This week the student government of New York University (NYU) passed a resolution urging the university to divest its funds from companies that they consider complicit in the oppression of Palestinians. The Washington Square News, NYU’s independent student newspaper, reports on the motion’s passage (click on screenshot below), which was accompanied by dissent from Jewish students.

You can see the entire resolution here, which includes ridiculously ludicrous statements like this extolling the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which aims to eliminate the state of Israel and make Palestine free “from the River to the Sea”. They’ll deny that, but it’s palpably true.

WHEREAS, the goals of the BDS movement are three-fold: ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Separation Wall; recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respecting, protecting and promoting the inalienable rights of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and properties from which they were expelled in 1948 as stipulated in UN resolution 194;

WHEREAS, BDS represents an inclusive, anti-racist, and non-violent set of tools to pursue the Palestinian human rights movement that is opposed to all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

The last line is a simple lie: BDS is not inclusive, it’s “racist” in being anti-Semitic, and it’s not opposed to anti-Semitism, even though it pays lip service to it.

After indicting Israel for crime after crime while never mentioning anything bad ever done by Palestinians—like refusing a generous two-state solution several times—the resolution winds up like this:

WHEREAS, during the 2017-2018 academic year, 5 NYU student clubs endorsed the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. (See Appendix A)

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that, upon passage of this resolution, NYU will communicate to the aforementioned companies, and any other companies complicit in human rights violations, that it shall not divest if, and only if, those companies warrant that they have put in place policies designed to ensure that none of their products are used by the State of Israel in the violation of human rights.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if Caterpillar, General Electric, and Lockheed Martin, along with any other companies involved in the violation of Palestinian human rights and human rights globally, fail to ensure the ethical use of their products, NYU will immediately divest all capital investments from said corporations;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NYU includes on its “Prohibited List” all corporations that profit from “the violation of Palestinian human rights, the occupation of Palestine, and the continued spread of settlements declared illegal under international law”;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NYU enacts a socially responsible investment policy for the university endowment that implements a screen on ethical investments that uphold human rights for all.

The resolution, conceived and introduced by two members of another anti-Semitic organization, Students for Justice in Palestine, passed with 35 student representatives voting yes, 14 voting no, and 14 abstaining.

Well, fine. Like the University of Chicago, NYU’s administration won’t bow to this kind of stuff because they have a policy of not politicizing their investments.  As the Algemeiner reported:

NYU spokesperson John Beckman said the university would not abide by the measure, citing President Andrew Hamilton’s previous rejection of economic and academic boycotts of Israel.

“The University opposes this proposal,” Beckman said in a statement sent to The Algemeiner. “It is at odds with the Trustees’ well understood position that the endowment should not be used for making political statements.”

So be it.  The thing that really ticked me off, though, was that this vote was taken in an unusual way: by secret ballot. This was already worked out by November 4, and was indeed the way it went down. As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported at the time:

The “Resolution on the Human Rights of Palestinians” will be voted on by the student senate next month using a secret ballot, the independent student newspaper Washington Square News reported.

The secret ballot is being called a “security precaution,” but opponents of the resolution say it will prevent accountability by the student legislators.

Security precaution my tuchas! What possible reason could there be for security.? It’s not as if those who voted for divestment are in any danger from the Jewish students, nor are those who voted against it in danger of physical attacks from anti-Israel students (I suspect it was the former group that was more in favor of secrecy, while the Jewish students are likely to face more opprobrium). No, there’s only one reason the ballot is secret: to hide the vote because you’re afraid of taking a stand, and you’re probably more afraid if you vote for divestment. In other words, people want to cast an anti-Semitic vote, but they don’t want their names associated with it. It’s pure cowardice, and those who hid their votes behaved shamefully.

I’d love to know who was in favor of making the vote secret, and how it was decided.

27 Comments

  1. Posted December 8, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    A good example of why I keep arguing that students should not be allowed to make decisions that cannot be overruled by the university. The brain of a twenty year old is not completely developed and their judgment is not reliable.

    • Martin X
      Posted December 8, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      And, of course, the brains of adults are SO much more reliable.

      • BJ
        Posted December 8, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        They tend to be, yes. The number of times I wish I had listened to my parents when I was a teenager/young adult is too many to count. So many warnings; so many regrets.

    • Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      After all, this is why students are there – to learn.

      • Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I think it is their lack of education and experience, not their lack of years. We should have empowered students to learn first, then rebel.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 9, 2018 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Then why are 18-year-olds allowed to vote. Or, for that matter, go and die in the army?

  2. Malgorzata
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    sub

  3. BJ
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I guess it’s more “socially responsible” to invest in Palestine, where women are subjugated, gay people are killed, children are used as human shields, genocide is promoted in elementary school and on television, and more money is spent by leaders on terrorism than on caring for their people.

    • Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      I actually think it wouldn’t be bad to invest there, to create non-terror related jobs. But very few sane investors would. And the over-active students do not invest, either. They do nothing to help their precious Palestinians, all they do is giving moral encouragement to terror and normalizing anti-Jewish actions.

    • J Cook
      Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      Hear, hear number 3!

  4. DrBrydon
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Sure it’s for safety: The safety of their positions on the student government. It eliminates accountability, and protects their stipends. The student body should vote out the whole current government.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted December 8, 2018 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      There is one group it’s genuinely for the safety of: those who voted against the measure. They’re the ones most likely to face violence from pro-Palestinian extremists!

      I wonder what these students think of kindergarten kids being taught to hate Jews and perform in plays where they shoot to kill them? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM07qFvcTE8

      • BJ
        Posted December 9, 2018 at 1:05 am | Permalink

        I assume they’d say that the Israelis have been “oppressing” them and this is a perfectly understandable reaction to their “oppression.”

        No matter what the answer might be, it would surely be a justification based on the evil, dastardly Israelis, and not at all the fault of the Palestinians in any way.

  5. Christopher
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    May I ask a question that may irritate PCC but not intentionally and I hope not in violation of accepted rolls? What is wrong with a secret ballot? US government elections use the secret ballot, aka the Australian ballot, 44 US state constitutions ensure secret ballots, in order to prevent coercion or punishment. Is this not a good thing, that people should be able to vote without fear of reprisal?

    • Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      It is because these are representatives voting, and accountabilty requires open voting by representatives. Would you want Congress or Parliament to vote secretly?

      • Christopher
        Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        Fair enough. I figured I must have misunderstood something, which is why I asked.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    How about a resolution on Saudi Arabia and what they are doing in Yemen? Where is their priority regarding what is actually going on.

    • Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Or about Khashoggi, or the imprisoned and tortured female rights activists… But the best and brightest young people seem never to have a problem with dictatorships, only with Jews.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    A secret ballot by the voting populace is a mainstay of American democracy. A secret ballot by those purporting to represent others is an abomination — a mockery of representative democracy and an act of political cowardice.

    • Kevin
      Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      I would agree with that in general. However, an open representative ballot, in making the voter’s identity public, does allow scope for manipulation, bribery and threat, conflict of interest and cronyism.
      In principle however, the representative voter should be seen to stand on record as acting as the delegate of others.

      • Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        I think the secret ballot allows even more scope for manipulation, bribery and threat. In my country, we used to have a central body awarding academic degrees, to which all PhD theses were defended. After presentation and discussion of the thesis, the jury members had to vote in secret. Secrecy was sometimes used to settle scores with candidates who were subjects of political, professional or personal animosity. It was grotesque: a decent and well-presented thesis, with published results, 2 positive reviews, nobody voices any substantial criticism, and finally, the ballot box turns out to be full of “No”s and white ballots that have the same effect as the “No”s…

        • Posted December 8, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

          You are right. Secret voting by representatives would invite far more abuse. For example, representatives could spout environmental values to the voters while lining their pockets by secretly voting for oil interests. Open representative voting might not stop all bribery or corruption, but it makes it easier to monitor.

          • Posted December 8, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

            On the other hand, secret voting makes it harder for the bribing interest groups to know that the representatives voted “their way.”

            There’s no perfect system, but I want to know how my representative is voting.

        • Kevin
          Posted December 8, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

          I’ve heard similar stories concerning PhD’s in the UK as well: more to do with tutor’s favouring preferred students or students thinking that they are going to get their degree simply because of who their father is etc.
          That’s not really a representational ballot however.
          If a ballot is open, it is easier to select the person to corrupt, and once corrupted, their vote is open to be seen.
          As they say, no democracy is perfect.

  8. Posted December 9, 2018 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    What possible reason could there be for security

    Well one possible reason, in the current febrile atmosphere is that people who vote against the resolution might find themselves the targets of attacks of various sorts.

  9. Posted December 11, 2018 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Most student governments I know have constitutions. What does the relevant one say about voting procedures?


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