As a second-year master’s of social work student preparing to graduate in two weeks, I could not be more relieved to escape Binghamton’s hostile environment toward Jewish students. Since Oct. 7, 2023, a gradual thickening of tension in and out of the classroom has surrounded me and my fellow Jewish peers. On April 16, at the Student Association (SA) hearing on the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) resolution, this tension reached a new peak.

I was supposed to speak as a public commenter at the BDS resolution hearing. The SA Congress procedure dragged on for hours in a disorganized manner. When they finally got to the debates for and against BDS, SA representatives seated in the front rows whispered among themselves, stared at their phones and shopped for shoes online. After over an hour of debates, the SA voted to suspend the rules and vote that night, moving public comments to after the vote happened. I did not get the opportunity to speak. By the time the SA had voted to pass BDS shortly after midnight, no one wanted to publicly comment — our words would have been spoken in vain to a divided crowd.

Since I did not get to speak, I did not get to say how personally impactful the passing of the BDS resolution would be for me. I did not get to say that I have been targeted, singled out and ostracized at Binghamton University and abandoned by close friends because of my Jewish identity.

The BDS resolution blames only the existence of Israel for the pain and suffering of the innocent people in Gaza and Palestine — neglecting completely to address the militant terrorist organization of Hamas, embedded in Gaza’s civilian institutions and hidden in hundreds of underground tunnels, as a major factor preventing peace and justice for the Palestinian people. BDS resolutions, often cheered by terrorist organizations including Hamas, deny Israel as the legitimate indigenous homeland of the Jewish people and instead refer to Israel as a settler-colonialist apartheid state committing genocide. This information, implicated in the language of the SA resolution, is not only false, but harmful and dangerous as it labels Jewish people and Israelis as malicious oppressors, potentially inviting more violence and hatred toward them.

Speakers who argued for BDS neglected to mention the hostages still held by Hamas, the atrocities of Oct. 7 and worsening antisemitism nationwide. Until the BDS resolution author was prompted by another SA representative to add a sentence demanding the unconditional release of the hostages, the hostages were excluded from the resolution’s supposed calls for justice altogether. The vast majority of pro-BDS debaters did not speak about any personal connections to Gaza or Palestinians. Meanwhile, almost every debater against BDS spoke in-depth about a personal connection to a friend or relative in Israel affected by Hamas’ genocidal attacks.

What dispirited me most about the BDS hearing is that several Jewish Binghamton University community members spoke in favor of BDS, including the author of the resolution. It feels to me like Jewish community members arguing for BDS are weaponizing their own shame, and the BU community ignores this possibility. As Dara Horn writes in “People Love Dead Jews,” when discussing some Jewish individuals’ historical compliance with antisemitic ideologies, “[Bigotry] doesn’t involve ‘intolerance’ or ‘persecution,’ at least not at first. Instead, it looks like Jews themselves are choosing to reject their own traditions. It is a form of weaponized shame.”

When BU students engage in antiracist and anti-oppressive discourse, most are aware that intention does not equal impact. If the impact of an action is racism, the intention scarcely matters — we are all learning to correct the racist ideas we have been socialized to hold and practice, even implicitly. Good intentions do not negate a harmful impact. When BU students talk about Israel, this sense of existing implicit bias is not discussed. The BU Jewish organization Hillel says — passing the BDS resolution will have an impact of worsening antisemitism and a hostile BU environment. The pro-BDS movement disregards our calls, and seems to respond — well it’s not intended to be antisemitic, so it isn’t. Is this anti-oppressive action? Is this doing the work to value diversity, equity and inclusion?

My life at BU has changed drastically since Oct. 7. Former friends of mine won’t look me in the eyes. Social media has revealed that many of my peers have voiced support for Hamas, a terrorist organization. I am isolated from progressive groups with whom I was previously aligned.

BDS has ties to terrorist organizations, denies Jewish ancestry to Israel, and is already banned by New York state from using SUNY intellectual property. The SA hearing was a chaotic, disheartening and shameful event. I hope that before graduation, the BU administrators will use their leadership power to prevent the implementation of BDS. Saying NO to BDS is saying NO to virulent antisemitism. The hatred, ostracization and scapegoating of Jewish people cannot be tolerated at BU or anywhere.

Tova Wilensky is a guest columnist and a second-year graduate student studying social work.

Views expressed in the opinions pages represent the opinions of the columnists. The only piece that represents the views of the Pipe Dream Editorial Board is the Staff Editorial.