NYU grad student union overwhelmingly votes to boycott Israel over violations of Palestinian human rights
NYU Graduate Student Organizing Committee is first private university labor union to support BDS, as movement grows
Graduate students at New York University have overwhelmingly voted to boycott Israel in protest of its violation of Palestinian human rights.
Exactly two-thirds of voting members of the graduate student union the Graduate Student Organizing Committee, or GSOC-UAW 2110, supported a referendum on Friday that calls for New York University and United Auto Workers International to withdraw their investments from Israeli state institutions and international corporations complicit in violations of Palestinian human and civil rights.
At least 645 union members participated in the vote. An additional 57 percent of voting members pledged to uphold the academic boycott of Israel, refraining from participating in research and academic programs sponsored by institutions funded by the Israeli government.
The union says this “was an unusually large membership turnout, a testament to union democracy.” It explained in a statement that the vote took place after a period of “vigorous debate and engagement with the union among wide layers of graduate workers.”
“After months of mass mobilization and a four-day election, GSOC members have taken a clear stand for justice in Palestine,” explained Shafeka Hashash, a member of the union’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, caucus.
“This historic endorsement of BDS by GSOC at NYU occurs in the wake of growing momentum for the movement across university campuses and labor unions nationwide,” she added.
BDS is an international grassroots movement that uses peaceful economic means to pressure Israel into complying with international law and respecting Palestinian human rights. The campaign was called for by Palestinian civil society and by major trade unions in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The Graduate Student Organizing Committee is a labor union representing more than 2,000 teaching assistants, adjunct instructors, research assistants and other graduate workers at New York University, or NYU. It is the first recognized graduate worker union at a private university in the U.S.
The union says its referendum vote it sets “an important precedent for both solidarity with Palestine and for union democracy.”
“In addition to bringing material gains for their members, NYU graduate students are reclaiming the union as a political platform for social justice causes,” explained Maya Wind, an Israeli activist and Ph.D. student at NYU who is a member of the union.
“Through the recent mass mobilization for justice in Palestine we have taken a stand on one of the defining political issues of our time,” she added. “The referendum success is indicative of the traction the movement is gaining across university campuses, and increasingly among graduate students.”
The referendum also calls on NYU to close its sister program in Israel’s Tel Aviv University, which the union says violates its own non-discrimination policy.
A recent U.S. State Department report acknowledged the “institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel,” as well as the unlawful killings, excessive force and torture people endure at the hands of the Israeli military in the illegally occupied Palestinian territories.
Students of NYU and other universities around the country, we solute you for being humanitarians and calling for BDS of Israel. The Israelis have long lied to us and forced us to believe that the Palestinians are terrorists when in fact they are the ones who are spreading terror in the Palestine, robbing people of their land and resources and killing innocent men, women and children.