With the recent resurgence of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement—an attempt to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land—many people caught in the middle feel that their hands have been tied. The campaign has prompted voices on either side to speak out, but has left those without a strong conviction feeling trapped and pinned.
“I feel a lot of pressure to pick a side,” said Zachary Baumann, a Jewish student at Cornell University. “I don’t agree with a lot of what Israel is doing, but I don’t want to submit entirely, because I think there are some problems with BDS.” Baumann admitted, however, that the movement has both dominated his campus and roped in a lot of his close friends.
In an age of social media, which amplifies extreme voices, more moderate views are being choked off. Many fear that, once they pick a role, they will be strapped in and unable to switch. Sarah Fletcher, a Facebook user who attends the University of California at Santa Cruz, posted that she didn’t want to be forced into joining any movement. “It can be painful, even masochistic,” she wrote, “for people to participate in BDS when they don’t fully agree with it.”
University administrators have come under fire for disciplining protesters involved with BDS. These schools argue that, upon enrollment, students consent to such punishment, but protesters point out that even the most niche and unconventional opinions are protected by the first amendment.
Some students, however, are coming to terms with the political climate. “At first, I really felt uncomfortable. Vulnerable, even,” said Tobias Mibelson, an experimental dance student at Mississippi State University, referring to the ideological struggle. “But over time, I learned to enjoy the feeling of being in a tough bind, of being a bit… out of control.” When asked about the subtleties of contested land in the West Bank, Mibelson responded by moaning and pinching himself really hard.
The BDSMovement is still gaining popularity at educational and political institutions, so The Quadrangle would like to remind its readers that, if they are going to participate, to be safe and have fun.