Rose Asaf’s journey to becoming a BDS activist started with a “racist” teacher in high school, who she said had disagreements with her on everything except Israel.
She described the interactions as having prompted a long process of “unlearning Zionism” and everything she had been taught about the state.
“I understood my high school teacher’s ideology to be right-wing, racist, and all-around bigoted,” the American-Israeli student told Al Jazeera, adding: “Our politics are a reflection of our morals, so I realised that if I am in full agreement with a racist on something political, there must be something wrong with either him or me.”
After a period of research, Asaf came to the conclusion she had been “lied to” regarding Israel and came to the conclusion that she had been a “progressive except [on] Palestine”.
“I felt that my Jewish community was doing a disservice by not telling the truth about what Israel is and what Israel is doing.
“It’s my responsibility to put myself on that front line.”
On Thursday, 21-year-old Asaf joined a group of students in presenting a resolution to New York University (NYU) Student Government Assembly, calling on the institution to sever ties with three companies they say are linked to abuses against Palestinians.
The motion accuses Caterpillar, Lockheed Martin, and General Electric, of complicity in human rights abuses against Palestinians, and call on NYU to implement a socially responsible investment model.
Industrial machinery firm, Caterpillar, produces bulldozers used by the Israeli army, while Lockheed Martin and General Electric produce military hardware.