Israel

United Auto Workers Reject Boycott of Israel

The United Auto Workers (UAW), one of the largest unions in the United States, has struck down a vote by a local chapter to join the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

UAW Local 2865, which represents student workers on University of California campuses, had voted last year to join the BDS movement. The UAW International Executive Board reversed that on Tuesday, stating its “unanimous belief” that BDS “espouses discrimination and vilification against Israelis and UAW members who are of Jewish lineage.”

Informed Grads, a University of California student group whose appeal of the boycott resolution was accepted by UAW International, praised the union for its “landmark decision” rejecting the “one-sided, counterproductive BDS referendum that limits academic freedom and promotes discrimination based on national origin.”

“The anti-Semitism and active promotion of hate that ran rampant throughout this BDS campaign cannot and must not be tolerated,” said Informed Grads member Karra Greenberg. “We applaud UAW International for taking a firm position against BDS and discrimination based on religion or national origin.” “We are very pleased by United Auto Workers International Union’s forceful rejection of BDS, which sets a powerful precedent for other labor unions and national organizations,” added Scott Edelman, a lawyer representing Informed Grads in its appeal.

The University of California system has not been a stranger to anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bigotry.

Earlier this year, a student who applied to the UCLA Undergraduate Students Association’s judicial board was temporarily prevented from being appointed after being asked, “Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?” The ensuing scandal was described by The New York Times as emblematic of an increasing number of anti-Israeli or anti-Jewish incidents reported on campuses nationwide.

In Why Are Student Leaders and Jewish Bruins Under Attack at UCLA?, which was published in the June 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine, Tessa Nath described the toxic environment pro-Israel groups on the UCLA campus face.

For myself and other Jewish and pro-Israel students, the atmosphere is poisonous. We feel attacked, ostracized, and threatened. Our identities are being rejected and our right to express our beliefs endangered. Our academic performance is being harmed unjustly; and our supporters are now targets of hate campaigns, baseless accusations, and unfair political and social retaliation. Yet, we cannot give up hope that the situation can be changed, or that it can teach us something important. It can be an isolating experience wading through all of the social and mass media reports about the terrors at UCLA right now. But ultimately, they remind us of the need for competent, strong, and open-minded voices that can temper hate and bring us back to a place of tolerant coexistence.

[Photo: Mel W. Wang / YouTube ]