StandWithUs applauds the Cambridge City Council (CCC) for rejecting Policy Order #109 (POR #109) on May 25, 2021. This legislation called for cutting ties with Hewlett Packard (HP), despite the fact that the City of Cambridge has not purchased anything from HP in seven years. A majority of council members recognized that its real purpose was to promote the discriminatory Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. POR #109 was replaced with a much more balanced substitute motion, which passed with a vote of five in favor, two against, and two abstaining. Amendments to reintroduce pro-BDS language failed with a vote of three in favor and six against.

“At a time when Jewish communities around the world are being attacked by pro-Hamas racists, it is especially important that a majority of Cambridge City Council members said no to this campaign of hate. Just this week, BDS-supporting ‘protestors’ have assaulted Jews in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and elsewhere. We applaud Council members who recognized that BDS would harm their community and only fuel more conflict between Israelis and Palestinians,” said Avi Posnick, StandWithUs Northeast and New England regional director.

POR #109 was explicitly promoted as part of the global BDS movement, which seeks to isolate and pressure Israel until it ceases to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. This followed a failed attempt by CCC members to pass similar legislation in 2018. Just like in 2018, there was an outpouring of opposition from residents of Cambridge. Over 150 people made comments in opposition to POR #109 at a CCC meeting on May 24, and another 250 residents signed a letter against it. Senior New England campus coordinator Eliza Kanner and New England high school coordinator Stephanie Margolis spoke at the meeting, sharing stories about how BDS promotes hate and would harm students locally.

At the CCC meeting on May 25, a substitute policy order replacing POR #109 was introduced and adopted. This substitute order recognizes Israel’s right to exist and defend itself, and criticizes Hamas alongside the Israeli government. The author of POR #109 attempted to pass an amendment removing the condemnation of Hamas and recognition of Israel’s right to exist, but this was voted down.

The substitute policy order also calls for the city manager to review the government’s business relationships with companies that engage in discrimination or human rights violations anywhere in the world, without singling out Israel. As such, StandWithUs will remain engaged to ensure this process is not used to further promote discrimination against Israel.

StandWithUs congratulates all members of the Cambridge community who stood up to hate and spoke out against POR #109. We will continue to work with IAC, AJC, JCRC of Greater Boston, CJP, the Anti-Defamation League, and all of our partners to educate about Israel and fight antisemitism in New England and beyond.

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