In a recent opinion column for Haaretz, a left-wing Israeli newspaper, USAC president Avinoam Baral attributed the victory of the anti-Israel BDS movement on college campuses to Benjamin Netanyahu’s democratic reelection as Israeli prime minister. Baral wrote:
The situation has gotten so bad, so indefensible, that, over the past year, the pro-Israel community has given up on defending Netanyahu's policies. Instead, on-campus activism consists of harmless events about Israel’s startup scene or innovative water conservation research. Even “defensive” actions by pro-Israel groups against student government BDS resolutions no longer target the foundation of the BDS movement (that there are human rights violations occurring and that the best way to stop them is to cut ties with those complicit in them), for while they often lack critical context, the citations in the BDS resolutions about Israel’s human rights violations are ironclad. When the pro-Israel camp cannot present an alternative to the cycle of violence, it is very hard to oppose loud, angry students who say they have the answer.
As president of UCLA student council, Baral has been at the forefront of recent occurrences surrounding Israel and anti-Semitism at UCLA, including the passing of a divestment resolution as campaigned by the anti-Israel Students for Justice in Palestine, a student potentially denied a position to USAC for being Jewish, and a resolution passed by USAC against anti-Semitism. The common denominator in fueling these cases seemed to be the twisted libels spread by the pro-Hamas SJP, who manipulate cover of ‘human rights’ to demonize Israel and Jewish students on campus.
Baral, while asserting his position as a pro-Israel student leader on campus, justifies the BDS movement as opposing Netanyahu’s policies which he believes are accountable for painting Israel as a “racist, colonial power.”
This week, the Israeli electorate let slip the opportunity to elect someone with any vision or viable alternative to the status quo. Instead, they chose to reelect Bibi and his policies of “managing” the Palestinian issue. Netanyahu's victory is also a victory for BDS. His anti-Arab, anti-two-state-solution, nationalist coalition will serve as potent propaganda fodder for painting Israel as a racist, colonial power. Students for Justice in Palestine and the BDS movement will undoubtedly continue to gain traction as long as this government as power. What's more, Netanyahu's actions will further alienate committed young Jewish pro - Israel supporters, like myself.
Members of the left-leaning J Street U, Jewish Voice, and even Hillel, echoed Baral's sentiments on Netanyahu’s reelection. However, Baral does not represent all Jewish pro-Israel UCLA students. Second-year psychobiology student Ariel Azhdam said to TruthRevolt,
There is a prominent pro-Israel Jewish population at UCLA that maintains strong faith in Netanyahu and his plans to lead Israel, and while I appreciate Avinoam expressing how he feels, he does not speak for those students in his article. Additionally, in no way does Netanyahu's re-election validate BDS's argument or make it more difficult to combat BDS, as that movement is and will always remain an anti-Semitic campaign that is aimed to target Israel.
Bruins for Israel president Eytan Davidowitz stated,
Avinoam absolutely has the right to share his opinions, and I appreciate that he chose to share them. However, it is unacceptable that he felt it was appropriate to speak on behalf the pro-Israel community at UCLA. Many students, especially those who support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or find themselves on the right wing of the political spectrum, were deeply offended.
Baral, while seemingly rejecting SJP and the BDS movement on campus, continues to validate the BDS mission as one of human rights. As long as Israel violates human rights, he maintains, BDS has reason to exist. He fails to address the virulent anti-Semitism and double standards caused by pro-terror group SJP and the founders of the BDS movement, who care as much about human rights as the terrorists that they support. As of now, Baral has lost the faith of many pro-Israel students at UCLA in the fight against the BDS movement.
Baral was unavailable for comment.
Hillel at UCLA declined comment.