New York, NY; April 26, 2023 – The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel has spread like wildfire in American colleges and universities. This movement threatens not only Jewish students and scholars but also the political neutrality of higher education, creating an environment of academic politicization to the detriment of academic freedom, freedom of speech, and constructive civil discourse. A new study published today by the National Association of Scholars (NAS), The Company They Keep, offers an in-depth analysis of the BDS movement’s history, its advancement on campus, and the threat it poses today.
“The BDS movement promotes a one-sided narrative that demonizes the Jewish state while disproportionately amplifying narratives of Palestinian grievance and Arab victimhood,” said Ian Oxnevad, author of the report. “Anti-Israel student activism is a growing problem that threatens the political neutrality of colleges and universities due to widespread connections between pro-BDS student groups and a larger network of progressive and left-wing organizations.”
The Company They Keep examines the BDS movement at three universities: Columbia University, the Ohio State University, and the University of California, Riverside. “Cases were selected based on their differing trajectories regarding BDS in order to control for different outcomes, and to ascertain trends of how struggles over BDS occur on campus,” said Oxnevad.
The report finds that the BDS movement’s success on campus is mixed, while its off-campus efforts are well-funded and growing in influence. It also “expands beyond previous work on the BDS movement by examining its constitutive student groups in the context of its off-campus support organizations and funding.” The report investigates the BDS movement between 2005 and the fall of 2022, examining first its Palestinian origins and development, and then its successes and failures nationwide.
“The BDS movement threatens the integrity of colleges and universities due to its attempt to capture academic policy to suit its own political goals. Far from a movement centered exclusively on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, BDS operates as part of a larger progressive, left-wing movement that is well-funded and connected beyond the university,” explained Oxnevad. “The placement of BDS within a larger ecosystem of progressive political organizations affords it legal support, ties to electoral politics, and funding from a network of charitable foundations oriented toward social justice.”
About the Author
Ian Oxnevad holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California and an MA in national security studies, along with degrees in Arabic and English. He has taught at multiple levels of higher education, and specializes in economic warfare, counterterrorism, and Middle East politics. He is widely published in these subjects and has consulted for the private sector on them. In his spare time, he is an equestrian and is pursuing a second doctorate in theology.
NAS is a network of scholars and citizens united by a commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. Membership in NAS is open to all who share a commitment to these broad principles. NAS publishes a journal and has state and regional affiliates. Visit NAS at www.nas.org.
For more information about this topic, please contact Chance Layton at [email protected].
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