American Jewish Committee (AJC) applauds the Cambridge City Council’s rejection tonight of a resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel and Hewlett Packard (HP).  The resolution, known as Policy Order #109, was voted down following nearly seven-and one-half hours of public testimony by more than 300 people on the evening of May 24.  A substitute order was adopted which expressly rejected BDS while reinforcing the City’s existing antidiscrimination policies.    

 “Policy Order #109 had one clear purpose, to leverage the Cambridge City Council to advance the narrow political interests of advocacy groups whose sole purpose is the demonization, isolation and eventual destruction of the State of Israel. We regret that the City of Cambridge allowed itself to become an agent for the proponents of the BDS movement.  This is the agenda of those who reject compromise and co-existence. Hardly, the place for the governing council of a racially, ethnically and religiously diverse city,” said AJC New England Regional Director Rob Leikind.

Policy Order #109 proposed to direct the city manager to “review corporate contracts and identify any companies that are in violation of Cambridge’s policy on discrimination, including (but not limited to) Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Hewlett Packard Incorporated over their role in abetting apartheid in the Middle East.”  However, according to the assistant city manager for fiscal affairs, Cambridge has not had a contract with Hewlett Packard directly since 2014.

More than 150 people spoke out against the resolution.  In addition, out of respect for the Council’s time, nearly 250 Cambridge residents signed a letter opposing the resolution in lieu of testifying in person during the meeting. The letter was organized by AJC New England, ADL New England, the Israeli American Council, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, and Combined Jewish Philanthropies and submitted to the CCC on the afternoon of May 24.

The vote followed testimony by 60+ Cambridge residents at the May 17 meeting of the CCC, which was held despite it coinciding with the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, a time when many in the Jewish community were unable to participate.   As with other BDS initiatives, the primary purpose of Policy Order 2021 #109, advanced by several anti-Zionist fringe organizations affiliated with the BDS movement, was to promote false and malicious ideas that serve to delegitimize Israel. The ultimate goal of the BDS movement is Israel’s destruction.

We thank those City Council members who rejected the original Policy Order #109 resolution.  The vote by the Cambridge City Council was a constructive step that we hope will cool extreme rhetoric and contribute to a more constructive and productive climate where difficult issues can be discussed. This is needed here in Cambridge, across our country and in the Middle East, where we can only hope that the conversation will turn from rejection to a discourse that advances peace.

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