Event examining campus BDS movement to take place, despite sabotage attempt

Campus Reform has extensively covered the BDS movement on campuses.

Anti-Israel activists have seemingly registered over 150 fake names “sell out” an upcoming National Association of Scholars (NAS) and Heritage Foundation event, in order to hinder in-person attendance.

The NAS and Heritage are co-sponsoring an event Wednesday entitled “Boycotting Israel: the BDS Movement on Campus” both virtually and at the Heritage Foundation in DC to present a multi-year research project examining the proliferation and political connections of the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement on college campuses.

[RELATED: University ignored anti-Semitism on its campus, Dept of Ed. investigation finds]

NAS event coordinator Chance Layton told Campus Reform that he noticed the problem with his online attendee list when corroborating names with email addresses listed on the form. After sending out several emails to listed attendees, Layton began receiving replies stating that the supposed guests had never registered for the event.

Campus Reform reviewed documentation of registration information that indeed showed mismatched names, emails, etc., for individual registrants.

Of the nearly 170 registered in-person attendees, only 12 responded to Layton saying that they had legitimately registered to attend the event.

“[BDS] threatens not only Jewish students and scholars but also the political neutrality of the university,” according to the NAS and Heritage report. The movement “promotes a one-sided narrative that demonizes the Jewish state while disproportionately amplifying narratives of Palestinian grievance and Arab victimhood.”

The report also outlines the deep connection between BDS student groups and leftist political organizations.

Campus Reform has documented numerous instances of student support for BDS, ranging from pressuring universities to cut ties with Israel to calling for intifada, or uprising, against Israel and Jewish students.

For the 2017-2018 school year, anti-Israel bias rose by 70%, coinciding with a significant increase in faculty participation in the BDS movement.

A 2022 report from the AMCHA Initiative, which records incidences of academic anti-Jewish bias, documented 254 attacks on Jewish identity for the 2021-2022 school year. Institutions with faculty-led BDS movements are also seven times more likely to produce attacks on Jewish identity, according to the report. 

[RELATED: Michigan State releases diversity report promoting anti-Semites and communists]

Layton told Campus Reform that, although he cannot identify for certain who the protester is in this situation, the tactic and the motive for the disruption align with the BDS movement at large.

The NAS and Heritage report is one that is “pointing fingers, names means and...puts the blame for a lot of anti-Semitism the United States at the feet of the people that have led and promote the BDS movement. Regardless of whatever issues they might have with Israel as a state, their rhetoric tends to encourage anti-Semitism and activist actions. It wouldn’t surprise me for them to do something like this,” Layton said.

A Pew Research Center poll from 2020 found that 80% of Jewish Americans say caring about Israel is either essential or important to Jewish identity, and nearly 60% personally feel connected to the state of Israel.

Registration for both in-person and online attendance of the event are open until 1:30 PM EDT on April 26, 2023.

Follow Gabrielle M. Etzel on Twitter.