Ohio State student government rejects financial and academic boycott of Israel


(JTA) — The Undergraduate Student Government of the Ohio State University voted down a resolution targeting Israel for financial and academic boycotts.

The nonbinding measure failed in a 33-7 vote Wednesday night.

It called for divestment from companies that “benefit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine” and boycott Israeli products, specifically naming G4S, Caterpillar, Sabra Dipping Company and Hewlett-Packard. Ohio State’s $3.6 billion endowment fund and $6.1 billion in revenue have investments in those companies, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The resolution also sought “an academic boycott of Israeli universities, including cancellations of currently invited speakers and visiting professors, and to ending existing programs or relationships with Israeli universities.”

In a statement issued prior to the meeting and vote, the student government’s president, Shamina Merchant, and vice president, Shawn Semmler, wrote that they opposed the legislation.

“We believe the implications of this resolution would negatively impact students on our campus and their opportunities for scholarships, research and field experiences,” their statement said. “It stands against the core principle of academic freedom and we are concerned about the exclusionary language used to address our educators on campus.”

They added: “This legislation goes against the mission and values of our university, and we unequivocally discourage its passage.”

At least five such resolutions in the student government have been voted on in recent years. The most recent anti-Israel boycott resolution came up in the undergraduate student government in January, but was rendered toothless after it was revised not to include specific language about Israel, the Cleveland Jewish News reported.

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