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March 31, 2016 2:56 pm

U of Chicago Students Mobilize Against Suddenly Launched BDS Campaign on Campus

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avatar by Andrew Pessin

The University of Chicago. Photo: Wikipedia

The University of Chicago. Photo: Wikipedia

Pro-Israel students at the University of Chicago (UC) are mobilizing to respond to the sudden launch of a campus divestment campaign against Israel, The Algemeiner has learned.

Andrea Hoffman, executive director of the Newberger Hillel Center at UC, told The Algemeiner that the organization had first learned of the campaign Monday morning, along with everyone else. Despite the lack of advance warning, she said, however, “It wasn’t really a surprise, given the current climate on campuses today.”

The campaign, sponsored by a group calling itself “UofC Divest,” is a local campus manifestation of the worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Specifically, UofC Divest aims to persuade the student government to pass a resolution calling on the university to divest from certain companies allegedly “complicit in” or “profiting from” Israel’s “ongoing military occupation, apartheid, and other human rights violations in Palestine/Israel.”

“We at the UC Hillel are opposed to BDS,” Hoffman said, “and are disappointed to learn about the efforts to bring this to a vote in the College Council. But I am so proud of the way our students, both Jewish and non-Jewish, conservative and progressive, are mobilizing, and how deeply they care about Israel and Jewish life on campus.”

She added that students are organizing their opposition to the BDS campaign under the banner of the “University of Chicago Coalition for Peace,” and aim to have a Facebook page up imminently to initiate their counter-campaign.

“I hope that any debate on campus will live up to the intellectual standards of UC, and that everyone will be allowed to speak freely and openly without fear of reprisal,” Hoffman concluded.

Ilan Sinelnikov, founder and president of the grassroots advocacy organization Students Supporting Israel (SSI), told The Algemeiner that SSI was reaching out to students at the University of Chicago to offer any desired support or advice. SSI has had success in recent months against BDS at Ohio’s Capital University and the University of Minnesota, as reported by The Algemeiner.

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