The Ohio State Senate is being asked to pass a resolution that would put Ohio on record in support of the nation of Israel and against those seeking to weaken it through the boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
The so-called BDS movement is strong on college campuses across the United States, including in Ohio. At Ohio State University, for example, BDS-supporting faculty, students, and staff operate a Twitter account devoted solely to criticizing Israel.
Now, pro-Israel groups say they’ve seen enough and would like the Jewish nation to get a fair shake in the academic arena.
That’s where the resolution, HCR 10, comes in. The Ohio House of Representatives has already passed it by an overwhelming majority of 92-2, and the Senate has passed it out of committee but has yet to hold a full floor vote.
The resolution delivers a mostly ceremonial rebuke to the international BDS movement, calling it a method of “legitimizing anti-Semitism” and “seeking to undermine the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, which they are fulfilling in the State of Israel.”
Mike Goldstein, the Ohio director for pro-Israel Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN), said his group would like to see the resolution put to a vote in the current lame-duck session because he believes it has more than enough votes to pass.
But the decision of whether to call for a vote rests with Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Ashtabula).
“It doesn’t seem to be a problem (getting the votes) so it just needs to happen,” Goldstein told The Ohio Star. “If there is a problem with the wording he can call me and I’d be glad to discuss it with him.”
Goldstein testified earlier this year in favor of the resolution in both House and Senate committees.
“If Larry doesn’t’ do it in lame-duck session we will have to start all over again, so we’re asking that he take it to the Senate floor for a vote,” he added.
PJTN and ACT For Ohio sent out email alerts to their members Thursday asking them to call Obhof and request a floor vote.
The only senator to vote against the resolution in the Senate’s Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee was Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus), who is the State Senate’s assistant minority leader.
In the House floor vote, the resolution passed 92-2 with only two Democrats, Bernadine Kennedy-Kent of Columbus and Stephanie Howse of Cleveland, voting against it.
In the House, the main opposition to the resolution came from a pro-Palestinian group called Palestine Legal.
“Their main contention is it’s trying to shut down free speech on campuses, which is ridiculous,” Goldstein said. “First off, it’s just a resolution so it has no enforcement power, and secondly, it includes a section specifically urging university administrators to make sure everybody on their campus has free speech.”
The resolution includes a rebuke to neo-Nazi and all far-right elements that engage in anti-Semitism but does not mention by name any of the Muslim groups, such as the Muslim Student Association, which are heavily involved in the BDS movement.
“WHEREAS, The members of the General Assembly condemn all groups, including white nationalist, neo-Nazi, and national socialist groups, that promote hatred, religious persecution, or violence towards others,” the resolution state.
The resolution can be read in full here.
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Anthony Accardi is a writer and reporter for The Ohio Star.