Students supporting Israel win against BDS at Columbia University

This is a guest blog written by Ofir Dayan, President of Students Supporting Israel at Columbia University.
Few are the issues that can make 150 people wait outside a room for five hours, knowing that only 20 will be able to enter. One such issue is the boycott of Israel, discussed this week at the Columbia University Student Council, and while Columbia is one of the best universities in the United States, it is also one of the most anti-Israel ones. The anti-Israel students and organizations were not afraid to use lies in order to persuade the council to promote an initiative to withdraw the University’s nearly $10 billion worth of investments from companies doing business in Israel. It turns out that in the imaginary world in which they live, the UN decision that Zionism is racism is legitimate and has never been annulled; the term “Apartheid” refers to Israel and not to South Africa; the university should withdraw its investments from companies that it’s not even invested in.
But we won. Even at one of the more hostile universities to Israel, the Student Council could not deny the direct connection between BDS to the increase in anti-Semitic incidents and the unequivocal calls by members of the boycott organizations, including students in Colombia, to wipe the State of Israel off the map. After their defeat, the anti-Israel organizations proved exactly what they had been saying over the last few weeks. Instead of honoring the council’s decision and to conclude the event, they began to block the passage to pro-Israel students, screaming at them slogans calling for the destruction of Israel, such as “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and cursing the council and its members with insults that should not be repeated.
But this behavior actually reflected a weakness, in comparison to the unity demonstrated by the Jewish community and the pro-Israel crowd at the university. Students from all over the political spectrum, Jews and Christians, Orthodox and Reform, Israelis and Koreans, stood shoulder to shoulder and fought for the State of Israel.

Very little is known in Israel about the contribution of the “Students Supporting Israel” movement to the struggle for the state. Of course, their work cannot be compared to the sacrifice of Israelis who live in Israel and defend it with their bodies, but this mobilization is not to be taken for granted. The organization I lead is not a Jewish organization, many of its activists are not Jewish, and quite a few come from countries where there is not even one Jewish community. Nevertheless, they devote their best time and energy to defending Israel. These people deserve tremendous gratitude from all of us. It is important that we know what they are doing for us, without any consideration. In a rather hostile environment, they take care daily that justice and truth prevail over slander and lies.

About the Author
Leor Saghian is a first year student at Santa Monica College majoring in Psychology and is part of the local Students Supporting Israel chapter. Currently, Leor serves as an intern for the national SSI Movement as a publisher and blogger. Leor's family is originally from Iran and following the revolution, immigrated to the United States and Israel.