An anti-Israel BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) resolution passed last spring by the Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO) Student Senate was reversed Thursday by the ASUO Constitution Court, which ruled that it violated the ASUO Constitution.
For nearly a year, a number of pro-Israel corporations were blackballed by students on the campus who supported the pro-Palestinian campus resolution that was first introduced by Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER) – an anti-Semitic activist student group that promotes the anti-Israel BDS movement on campus.
“The resolution encouraged – but did not mandate – the university to boycott companies – such as Motorola, SodaStream and Sabra – that proponents of the resolution say support Israel’s occupation of Palestine,” the student-run campus newspaper, the Daily Emerald reported.
Pushing anti-Semitic politics
It was indicated in the ruling that a clear bias and a discriminatory leaning against Israel and Jews were the motivation behind the problematic resolution that backed the Palestinians’ contention that the Jewish State is illegitimate and should not exist – a view supported by adherents of Islam who believe that Israel should be wiped off the face of Earth.
“The judicial branch of UO’s student government wrote that the resolution does not comply with the ‘viewpoint-neutral’ position that public universities must follow when distributing student fees,” the Daily Emerald’s Ryan Nguyen informed. “The position is that public universities must administer student fees in a way that does not advocate for ‘a particular point of view,’ and it comes from the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling held in Southworth v. The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.”
In other words, Supreme Court precedent maintains that public taxpayer funds should not be used to carry out or enforce political or religious worldviews and agendas – in this case, a mindset geared at propagating the Muslim-based idea that Israel is an apartheid state “oppressing” the Palestinians.
“For the ASUO Senate – the branch of student government that distributes these fees – the court’s opinion applies when governing over student fees such as the incidental fee, which all students pay to cover the cost of student groups' budgets, tickets for athletic events and bus service for UO students in Lane County,” Nguyen explained. “The Senate manages about $16 million in incidental fees, according to the official ASUO website.”
In this case, the left-leaning, pro-Palestinian school senate was kept from overstepping its authority so it could no longer continue to carry out and encourage the voluntary campus-wide boycott against Israel.
“In a similar manner to the Supreme Court, the ASUO Constitutional Court has the power to review all resolutions passed by the Senate to ensure they abide by the ASUO Constitution – according to section 11.15 of the ASUO Constitution,” Nguyen added. “This power is an ‘inherent function of the ASUO’s system of checks and balances,’ the court wrote in its ruling.”
Through the ruling, it was confirmed that the BDS resolution clearly violated two sections of the ASUO Constitution.
“The first is Section 2.3, which bans the student body from ‘abridging the privileges and immunities of any person or program’ under school, state and federal laws,’” CBN News noted. “Second, Section 2.4 prohibits denying access to activities supported by student fees ‘for reasons of sex, race, religion, age, sexual orientation, marital status, handicap, political view, national origin or any other extraneous considerations.’"
Following the precepts upheld by the nation’s highest court, the University of Oregon concluded that it could not continue to allow an unconstitutional resolution to be carried out on campus any longer.
“These sections – the court argues – compel the court to comply with the U.S. Constitution and to determine that the BDS resolution violates the ASUO Constitution,” Nguyen pointed out. “The resolution states that it is binding; however, the court’s opinion held that it was a non-binding resolution.”
Since last fall, the passage of the controversial resolution has been under a heated debate on campus.
“The court’s decision to inquire about the constitutionality of the resolution began after Oct. 28, 2018, when ASUO Senate President Montserrat (Montse) Mendez-Higuera filed a motion for clarification,” Nguyen recounted. “These motions ask the court to determine if a new rule complies with the ASUO Constitution, according to section 6.6 of the ASUO Constitutional Court bylaws.”
Promoting anti-Semitism on campus?
The resolution was endorsed by 30 student groups on the university’s campus, including the school’s Multicultural Center and associations representing Muslim, Arab, LGBTQA, Native American, Vietnamese, Southeast Asian and intersectional feminist students.
Because of this following, fears that the BDS resolution – promoted by the anti-Semitic Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights – would promote anti-Semitic attacks on campus came true not long after it passed.
“Weeks after the resolution passed, anti-Semites vandalized the university's Hillel Jewish group with explicit pro-Palestinian messages,” CBN News recalled from reports last spring.
Some of the pro-Palestinian profanity directed at the pro-Israel campus group included the message, “Free Palestine, you [expletives],” so when the recent ruling was issued, members voiced their gratitude.
“Hillel expressed optimism over the court’s recent ruling, thanking the UO administration for its support and reaffirming its stance that the Palestinian-led BDS campaign – whose leaders openly reject the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination,” the Algemeiner reported.
Members of the Jewish group seized the opportunity to remind the campus community of how the resolution only had the effect of spreading hatred and disunity – not to mention its underlying motivation to advocate violence against the Jewish State.
“[The resolution] divides our campus [and] offers no solution to the conflict or support for peaceful resolutions,” Hillel proclaimed, according to the Algemeiner.
Problems from the onset
Despite already-realized problems concerning the resolution when it was introduced, pro-Palestinian student activists still tried to force it through while attempting to push it as a so-called call for unity against Israel-supporting businesses.
“At the time that the resolution was initially debated, some of its opponents warned that it may be struck down for constitutional violations – a concern shared by some supporters of the bill, who nonetheless urged its passage on symbolic grounds,” the Algemeiner continued.
OU Senator Keegan Williams-Thomas’s justification for the resolution was voiced at the time.
“Everyone who’s worked on this thinks that this is … largely a matter of solidarity – rather than actually withholding funds from Sabra hummus,” Williams-Thomas insisted last year, according to the daily.
Even though UO President Michael Schill was pleased with the peaceful handling of the matter on campus, he warned that the resolution was not inclusive for everyone in the student body, indicating that it did not have Jewish students’ best interests in mind.
“[I applaud the] peaceful manner [of the student debate over the issue, but it] contradicts the ASUO mission to support the interests of all students in a diverse community,” Schill declared, as quoted in the Algemeiner report.