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March 26, 2014 9:38 am

BDS Resolution Defeated at University of Michigan

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Proponents of the resolution awaiting the vote at the makeshift 'Edward Said Lounge' on the University of Michigan campus. Photo: Twitter / Farrahtweets.

Proponents of the resolution awaiting the vote at the makeshift 'Edward Said Lounge' on the University of Michigan campus. Photo: Twitter / Farrahtweets.

A resolution to begin a process to divest from companies that invest or operate in Israel was defeated by the University of Michigan student government in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The proceedings were broadcast via the internet, with more than 2,000 watching, in addition to the 350 students sitting in the capacity auditorium. After a six-hour session, which included speeches by dozens of students, for and against, two Jewish professors and the anti-Israel journalist and author Max Blumenthal, who used the forum to repeatedly pitch his new book, the Central Student Government voted down the resolution, 25 to nine, with five abstentions.

The vote was taken by secret ballot, as some members of the CSG had said they were intimidated by proponents of the resolution at its previous meeting, where a unanimous decision was taken to table a vote “indefinitely.”

The Washington Free Beacon reported on Monday that at least one pro-Israel student “received death threats and that others have allegedly been called ‘kikes’ and ‘dirty Jews'” by proponents of the resolution who called for a “sit-in” of the CSG’s offices until the resolution was put back on the agenda for Tuesday night.

Molly Rosen, a University of Michigan senior who was at last week’s meeting, told The Algemeiner on Tuesday that while the student speaker “did a great job” of keeping order at the meeting, many students “definitely were feeling intimidated because of how they voted on the issue.”

“I, personally, was not scared, but I know many students who are now not willing to express opinions in class for fear of retribution on campus or on social media,” Rosen said.

Indeed, the #UMDivest hashtag on Twitter contained many slurs against Israel and mainly offered support for the proponents of the mission. The livestream broadcast of Tuesday night’s proceedings also had a chat function where students cracked raunchy jokes and ridiculed speakers against the resolution.

The wording of the resolution that was voted down was modeled on those enacted against South Africa during the apartheid era. It would have called for the university to create a committee whose job would be to write a plan to divest school assets from international companies whose operations were considered to be harming Israel’s Arab population, especially in land claimed for a future state by the Palestinian Authority. Caterpillar, because of steamshovels supposedly used in demolishing homes, or General Electric, because of the turbines apparently used in Israeli aircraft, were two examples cited in speaker presentations.

One point that came out from law students who spoke against the resolution was that it was CSG’s role to only approve this type of resolution for consideration by the school’s financial office if it felt there was a wide consensus on the issue, but the divisiveness on campus spoke to the wide divide.

While a vote would have just been to write a report and divest from U.S. rather than even Israeli companies, the outcome would have been perceived as a victory for the large Muslim population at the school. Ultimately, the Arab students who spoke said the forum allowed them to share their experiences and personal stories, narratives they felt were usually ignored on campus.

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  • Pam Brievek Geller

    The threatening violence by the BDS supporters is just class room bitch talk.the real problem is Israel’s occupation of illegal land in Gaza.

    • HH

      No offense, Pam, but Hamas “occupies” Gaza. The people voted them in 10 years ago and they’ve used local taxes to buy missiles to shoot at Israel. So, um, what the heck are you talking about?

      If you mean to say Israel occupies Judea + Samaria, or the West Bank, or the disputed territories, the evil truth in all this is that from the very beginning Israel accepted two states there, and the Arabs refused, now 5 times, about to 6. Because why accept home rule for, really, the crappiest, poorest piece of territory in the world, and then have to manage it, when you can just refuse, and your refusal is amazingly frontpage news for 70 years. (Arafat knew it was better to be Che Guevarra, advocating for the revolution, than have to run a poor former sugar plantation, like Fidel was stuck doing, where nobody was happy.)

      Maybe you should pick up a history book, that’s what college is for, right?

      • Annette

        Well said HH…Thank you for sharing the FACTS..
        One must appreciate your objectivity in relaying the truth.
        How can there be any peace when Hamas adamently refuses to negotiate peace and is hell bent on a destruction of an entire state?

        Yes, after acquiring control of Gaza, Hamas-affiliated and other militias launched rocket attacks upon Israel….Not exactly a recipy for compromise is it…

        Another sad FACT: the Palestinian Authority makes no attempt to educate its people towards peace and coexistence with Israel. On the contrary, from every possible platform it repeatedly rejects Israel’s right to exist, presents the conflict as a religious battle for Islam, depicts the establishment of Israel as an act of imperialism, and perpetuates a picture of the Middle East, both verbally and visually, in which Israel does not exist at all. Israel’s destruction is said to be both inevitable and a Palestinian obligation.
        How does one make peace with that hateful mind set???
        Suggestions anyone?

    • I would suggest that you go back and begin with 1st grade history level, that is, if your brain can tolerate it.

  • judorebbe

    It doesn’t take a genius to see that we are in the early stages of an increasingly widespread, and increasingly ferocious war on Jews in America. – And the situation will worsen quickly when (not if, but when) the economy (which is now barely being held together by Scotch tape) turns down … Who do you think those evil, greedy, wealthy 1% are? … Just ask Joe Sixpack.

  • Yo these, palestinian terrorists are completely out of line. Yes there is violence, but the completely ignore the half of which they contribute. If they think they can march into an american school, impose their radical views on the rest of sane people, then they deserve to have their proposal immediately rejected. If not, give it six hours and a logistical crew will rule them moronic

  • Anthony Dayton

    While the vote to defeat BDS was successful, before anyone from the victory side rejoices too much, read the article carefully: The university has a “large Muslim population” who apparently have little use for the exchange of ideas and tolerance of viewpoints to arrive at a resolution so fundamental to the democratic process. I suspect that there are American born students who also have little use for this “American way of life.” Without this cornerstone of the American revolution, as these students go out into the political world and to other aspects of American life, they will take with them this hatred and intolerance and reshape the landscape of America into something that looks like the violence we see worldwide. America has failed to inculcate its sacred principles into the people who now immigrate as well as to some of its own children.

    • rulierose

      I think you can be a little more optimistic than that, Anthony! here’s why:

      first, the “large Muslim population” at the University of Michigan is not at its flagship Ann Arbor campus, but at the regional campus in Dearborn.

      this is not surprising, since the city of Dearborn has the largest concentration of Middle Easterners in the world outside the Middle East itself. (UM-Dearborn is also the site of U-M’s famous “foot baths” that were built at taxpayer expense to accommodate Muslim students’ praying.)

      but the problem is not Muslim students anyway, it’s LIBERAL students, who embrace every chic cause that comes their way. and right now, the Pals are chic. (I sometimes think that if Israelis had cool keffiyahs they’d be doing better in the PR war!)

      secondly, don’t overlook the importance of the lopsidedness of the vote. 25 against 9 is huge. I frankly wouldn’t have expected it to be that decisive. it’s funny to compare this overwhelming rejection with the spineless and shameful remarks the University administration came up with about “diversity and free expression.”

      and finally, the fact that they had to take a secret ballot is revealing. I think “BDS” is starting to show itself as the hateful movement it really is and that people are finally starting to see it, despite the cool keffiyehs.

    • Annette

      So very well said Anthony.

      I fear the change our amazing country will undergo when tolerance and freedom is no longer a way of life…
      Just look at Europe and you can see a glimpse of what our country will look like in 2 decades…

      Why can’t people be tolerat and accepting of others religion and way of life? 🙁

      Why does the rule via fear and intimidation the only way some know how to live by?

      For years I foolishly believed, people immigrated to the ‘Land of liberty’ for FREEDOM and democracy that they didn’t have in their countries.
      Now I have come to the grim realization that many come here to CHANGE our way of life, and re-create the country they came from…
      I ponder over that…If they come here to create the land they left then why not stay in that land in the first place?
      What am I missing?
      If you don’t thrive on freedom and democracy, then please stay away from the US.
      I implore you to NOT come here and impose your way of life on those of us who like to be free to make our own choices [as opposed to be told what to do by greedy dictators…]

      Can you sense how much I love this country?!
      There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for being born here..

      Off my soapbox…

  • Prof Asher J Matathias

    It continues to be a matter of deep concern that anti-Jewish and anti-Israel bias permeates American campuses, stalwarts of academic freedom, and unfettered debate. The atmosphere of intimidation directed to Jews and supporters of the Jewish State must not be countenanced under all circumstances. Moreover, this toxic condition, promoted and disseminated by hatemongeriers serve only to create a false dichotomy, as if the issue of BDS is a legitimate concern where the only democracy in the region, Israel, is concerned. Palestinians discredit any semblance that they have legitimate grievances against Israel by insisting on persecuting Jews on campus for their enthusiastic championing of the Jewish ancestral home. Peace will become more possible were the Pablestinians cease and desist from such sophomoric gambits.

  • Could one ever imagine a BDS movement against Venezuela?
    Venezuela is a Marxist dictatorship that brings more and more hardship to its citizens. Nobody cares.