Barnard College students vote to ask administration to divest from Israel


(JTA) — Nearly two-thirds of Barnard College’s student body voted to ask the administration to divest from eight companies doing business with Israel.

In the results of the vote announced Wednesday, 64 percent of students want the Student Government Association to write the administration a letter asking the college, which is affiliated with Columbia University, to divest from Israel, the Columbia Spectator reported.

The question was included on the ballot for the annual student government elections. Turnout was almost 50 percent, the Spectator reported, the highest ever for a vote. The vote does not bind the student government to write the letter.

The government will meet on April 23 to consider whether to write the letter.

Pro-Israel students on campus said the measure’s language was skewed and they were not given an opportunity to contribute to its wording. They said they were only given a day’s notice of the government meeting considering the ballot earlier this month and then were not able to make a formal presentation there.

The “ballot quoted directly from the pro-divestment campaign’s website and contained factual inaccuracies,” StandWithUs, a national pro-Israel group that assists pro-Israel students in combatting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. “Unfortunately, efforts to address these concerns and ensure a free and fair vote were unsuccessful.”

Supporters of the ballot have said that what they regard as the inherent structural advantage Israel has in the conflict mitigated the requirement for pro-Israel input.

The companies targeted in the ballot, according to a supporter of the ballot who posted a screengrab of the results on Twitter, are Caterpillar, Mekorot, Bank Hapoalim, Hewlett Packett Enterprise, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Lockheed Martin, Elbit Systems and Boeing.

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