BDS boycott (file)
BDS boycott (file) Reuters

Professor Cary Nelson, formerly the head of the American Association of University Professors warned on Saturday that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel movement may become a political movement in the United States.

Speaking to Channel 1 News, Professor Nelson of the University of Illinois, said that the BDS movement’s influence in the United States has increased and that it poses a threat to Israel’s security.

Academic boycotts have become an all-too-common BDS tactic on American college campuses over the past year, whether through student organizations or official academic bodies. 

The Modern Language Association (MLA) narrowly shot down an anti-Israel initiative in June, shortly after a similarly controversial vote by the American Studies Association earlier this year passed a BDS-backed resolution.

Last week, the University of California (UC) graduate student worker union voted in favor of a resolution supporting an academic boycott of Israel.

The text proposes supporting the boycott until Israel "has complied with international law and respected the rights of Palestinians."

The phenomenon has been prevalent on campuses in other countries as well.  In August, Britain’s National Union of Students voted to boycott Israel, passing a motion calling on student unions around the country to impose sanctions on Israel and support campaigns to boycott Israeli products on their university campuses.

Several weeks later, the Ontario branch of the Canadian Federation of Students, representing more than 300,000 university students in the province, unanimously passed a motion to boycott Israel.

The student union at Ryerson University in Toronto voted to join the BDS movement against Israel in April, capping a chain of anti-Israel decisions among Canadian institutions of higher education.

Toronto's York University student union has voted to join the BDS movement as well. It was preceded by Windsor University in Ontario in early March. In mid-March, students at the University of Ottawa launched a campaign to have Sabra hummus banned from campus because of its alleged connection with “Israel apartheid."