Monday, July 15, 2019

One of the benefits of being an on-campus Israel hater is that you never have the pay the price for the damage you cause.

Take the case of Williams College, back in the news after the school settled a complaint by the Department of Education that it had discriminated against pro-Israel Jewish students on campus.  This complaint did not arise due to anything the college or its administration had done.  Rather, it was the result of irresponsible (and all too typical) behavior of students.

Earlier this year, a group of Williams students organized a new pro-Israel group called Williams Initiative for Israel (WiFi).  As with any new group on campus, the organization was required to follow a set of procedures for becoming a recognized campus club that could receive funding from the elected student government.  Those procedures were straightforward, and WiFi followed them to the letter.  But still they were rejected.

Why?  Because anti-Israel students who dominated the student council decided that their political positions – i.e., the legitimate opinions they wanted to advocate for – were inadmissible on campus.  So after a debate in which “Israel-is-always-wrong” proponents not involved with student government were given the floor to rail against the Jewish state and its supporters, the council rejected Wifi’s request 13-8.

Breaking with even more rules they were elected to live by and enforce, the council did all they could to avoid taking personal responsibility for their votes, not livestreaming the council meeting (which would otherwise be normal procedure) or including names of speakers on a transcript.  Given the contents of that transcript, which revealed staggering levels of ignorance and bigotry, one can understand why some students did not want to take responsibility for what they had said and done. 

That responsibility fell to the grownups on campus, specifically the president of the college who immediately condemned the vote and worked out a procedure whereby WiFi would receive official recognition, despite the student council vote.  Some students protested the president’s move, but to her credit she held fast to the principles the school she led was built upon.

This did not prevent a discrimination complaint being lodged with the Department of Education which took up the case and proceeded to investigate the charges. It was this investigation that led to the settlement just announced this week.

Note that it was not the students who had acted in such an irresponsible and discriminatory way that had to navigate government investigators in order to avoid the whole situation being referred to the Department of Justice as a violation of federal law.  Rather, it was (once again) someone else who had to pay the price (in this case, the adults who led the college.)

This is typical BDS behavior: causing mayhem in one community after another and leaving it to others to clean up the mess.  In theory, the student council could have changed the rules under which they operated in order to allow discrimination based on political opinion.  Such a move would likely have faced procedural and administrative hurdles, and would have been widely controversial (and may have failed).  But at least it would have represented an act of honesty on the part of student representatives who decided their real constituency was the BDS movement.
It is likely no accident that the whole matter was settled once summer began and the students who demanded the right to shred the rules they were elected to live by in order to discriminate against fellow students who did not share their political opinions were safely off campus.

As in many, many other situations where the BDSers ask an institution to do their dirty work, once consequences rain down on the institution that has done its bidding, the boycotters have already moved on to their next target, leaving it to others to deal with the wreckage.

Let’s hope this is a lesson for the next organization considering inviting the BDS vampire through the front door.    

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