Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 — Houston, TX

Letter to the Editor: Student Association’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions resolution is antisemitic

By Warren Weissbluth     4/2/24 11:50pm

Editor’s Note: This is a guest opinion that has been submitted by a member of the Rice community. The views expressed in this opinion are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Thresher or its editorial board. All guest opinions are fact-checked to the best of our ability and edited for clarity and conciseness by Thresher editors.

The March 26, 2024 Thresher article “Senate debates resolution to boycott, divest SA funds from Israel-aligned companies” does not accurately or completely characterize my opposition to S.RES 02 as I expressed during the March 25 Student Association meeting. S.RES 02 empowers an “ethical spending advisory board” to prevent student organizations from spending Blanket Tax funding on corporations deemed to be “complicit in the violation of the human rights guaranteed to Palestinian civilians.” Because Rice University’s Jewish student cultural organizations are inextricably connected to the State of Israel through programming and professional staff, there is no protection that Blanket Tax funding would be withheld from these student organizations, should the resolution pass.

When I asked what guarantees the resolution includes to ensure that Jewish student organizations are not denied Blanket Tax funding, the reply was an explanation that the full Senate can overturn a decision made by the “ethical spending advisory board.”

This is neither an explanation nor a guarantee.

A suggested amendment to S.RES 02 would exclude Jewish student organizations from being considered “unethical” on the “ethical spending advisory board’s” list of prohibited organizations. Yet this type of amendment simply illustrates the arbitrary nature of the resolution and renders the resolution moot. An additional response from other senators meant to alleviate my concern was that the full Senate not only could, but would certainly, overturn an “ethical spending advisory board’s” decision that targeted Jewish student organizations. Further, I was told that I simply need to trust the Senate.

While in theory I support an “ethical spending advisory board,” I do not trust the SA to act impartially, especially when their intentions as expressed in the resolution are clearly to implement an antisemitic boycott, divestment, and sanctions policy on Rice’s campus.

The resolution is antisemitic because it holds Israel to a double standard, rejects the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and demonizes Israel and the Jewish people (including Rice’s Jewish students) through false accusations of colonization and genocide. Applied here, BDS also implicates Rice’s Jewish students for real or perceived actions of the State of Israel.

Just this week, Governor Abbott recognized the proliferation of antisemitism on college campuses and called for greater protection of Jewish students.

Rice University’s Jewish students, and all Rice students, deserve more than this resolution’s marginalization and empty reassurances to trust the SA.

More from The Rice Thresher

OPINION 4/16/24 10:18pm
Do more to make campus bird-friendly

April is the month of many things: Beer Bike, a solar eclipse, the last day of classes and, perhaps lesser known, Earth Month. As Rice launches a series of Earth Month events, I would like to address our potential as a campus community to be more environmentally conscious, particularly in an effort to make this campus more friendly to birds.

OPINION 4/10/24 2:41pm
Student activism is working – and fear-mongering cannot hold us back

S.RES 02, titled “Student Association Boycott and Divestment from Corporations Complicit in the Ongoing Genocide in Gaza,” was presented to the Student Association on March 25. This resolution proposes the creation of an Ethical Spending Advisory Board designed to ensure that Blanket Tax funds are not dedicated to corporations that are complicit in Israeli colonial violence and apartheid based on guidelines created by the BDS movement. 


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.