Netanyahu win is “victory for BDS,” says UCLA’s controversial pro-Israel student president

UCLA student body president Avinoam Baral says Netanyahu’s re-election is “a victory for BDS.” (via Facebook)

A controversial pro-Israel student leader has conceded that the election victory of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make it much harder to stop the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign on US campuses.

“Netanyahu’s victory is also a victory for BDS,” Avinoam Baral, a University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) senior, writes in a 20 March op-ed in Israel’s Haaretz.

“I have spent thousands of hours directly or indirectly fighting BDS on my campus – whether through my involvement on the board of Bruins for Israel or in student government, where I now serve as student body president,” Baral says.

“One of the greatest obstacles I face as a pro-Israel leader is the answer to the question, ‘What should we do instead of BDS?’”

The “paint” comes off

What’s fascinating is the frankness with which Baral explains how the charade of a “peace process” has for years allowed anti-Palestinian activists to fight back efforts to hold Israel accountable.

Netanyahu’s admission during the campaign that he will never allow a Palestinian state strips Israel of that cover, Baral laments: “When the Israelis and Palestinians engage in negotiations for peace, their bilateral engagement makes the unilateralism of BDS seem heavy-handed at best and destructive at worst.”

“When the conflict seems solvable and the Israeli government seems dedicated to doing so, even the worst aspects of the status quo – the military occupation, the errant missiles in Gaza – can be painted as what I truly believe they are: a dark, temporary chapter of our collective history before a momentous resolution,” Baral adds.

Palestinians, by contrast, know that occupation, siege, apartheid, land confiscation and relentless killings by Israeli forces have been permanent features of their lives regardless of whether “leftist” or “right-wing” governments hold office, and regardless of whether there were ongoing peace negotiations.

But under Netanyahu, unlike during the terms of ostensibly “dovish” governments of the past, these depredations are proving impossible to conceal.

“No one on campus believes there will be a positive change to the status quo under [Netanyahu],” Baral says.

“The situation has gotten so bad, so indefensible, that, over the past year, the pro-Israel community has given up on defending Netanyahu’s policies,” he laments. “Instead, on-campus activism consists of harmless events about Israel’s startup scene or innovative water conservation research.”

As we know, however, pro-Israel activism has been far from harmless. All over the US, but especially at the University of California, it has involved relentless attacks on the freedom of speech of students and faculty, frequently financed and orchestrated by off-campus pro-Israel groups.

Baral concedes that the Palestine solidarity movement does its homework. The “citations in the BDS resolutions about Israel’s human rights violations are ironclad,” he writes.

Seven out of nine undergraduate campuses within the University of California system have now voted in favor of divestment resolutions.

Backing from Israel lobby

Baral’s views are notable because he is at the leading edge of Israel lobby-sponsored anti-Palestinian activism on campus.

Indeed, prominent liberal Zionist commentator Peter Beinart promoted Baral’s column as an “important piece about what [Netanyahu’s] win means on American campuses.”

Baral gained notoriety when it was revealed that the 2013 election campaign he ran with fellow student Avi Oved was bankrolled by Adam Milstein, an Israeli-American real estate mogul who is vocal about his Islamophobic views.

Milstein, a convicted tax cheat who funds a host of anti-Palestinian organizations, denied that he knew that his money was going to Baral and Oved’s campaign.

But leaked emails from Milstein showed that he had personally directed donors to send checks for the candidates to UCLA Hillel’s director of fundraising.

“Avi and Avinoam represent the Jewish community and the pro-Israel advocates on the UCLA campus. It’s of extreme importance that they prevail vs. some anti-Israel, pro-BDS students that are competing against them,” Milstein wrote.

In an email thanking Milstein for his efforts, the candidates wrote that “[We] and the rest of the Bruins United slate are prepared to make sure that UCLA will maintains [sic] its allegiance to Israel.”

Read Abraham Greenhouse’s full report on Milstein and his connection to the affair.




to the above-mentioned pro-Israel speaker and all the young people who rallied around him:

remember your conscience. nothing but your conscience is binding. not religion, not politics. remember you're human. remember your honour as being human. because if you do, your courage to be critical of things and voice crimes will find you.

why have you, as you admit, until now tried to conceal crimes? why did you stand against people who exposed them? are you not a human? how did those photographs that shook the world didn't shake you? that same world was shaken when they saw smoke coming out of the chimneys of gas chambers in movies on third reich. you've been in betrayal of your own history ever since.

even now, you seem not to have realized the truth, but rather, lamenting about not being able to defend your position of defending the evil.

your own words reveal your unwillingness to face the truth. you wanted yourself to remain blind to reality, letting yourself be content with a ridiculous, make-believe peace process -plaything of liars of the political scene- as your pretext to stand against people with conscience who exposed the decades-long atrocities of Israel.

you seem to care so much more about not being able to stop the campus protests now. in other words, you couldnt care less about Palestinian children's, teenagers', civilians' deaths if the never-meant peace process were chanted by Netanyahu another 5 years, instead of him saying what he said. as a matter of fact, with your being comfortable with evil, young man, you make a pretty good future candidate for GOP.
but why defend the evil? evil was NASAP 70 years ago. and since they were defeated, it has been Israel. this is not me saying it. it is history.

just because you are born and raised in the land that has the raw power -which is money- to attempt suppressing the truth, it doesnt mean your conscience needs be sold.

be on the right side of history. find back your conscience.


Thank you for laying out in detail the pro-Israeli forces at work on university campuses and their off campus funders. Keep up the necessary work!