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December 2, 2015 3:17 pm

Jewish Student Under Ethics Probe for Confronting Anti-Israel Demonstrators Defended by Peers

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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University of Michigan student Jesse Arm confronted fellow students who put up an anti-Israel display on campus. Photo: Twitter.

University of Michigan student Jesse Arm confronted fellow students who put up an anti-Israel display on campus. Photo: Twitter.

University of Michigan students and former student government representatives defended a Jewish student on Tuesday who is facing an ethics investigation after he confronted anti-Israel demonstrators on campus, the student newspaper The Michigan Daily reported.

Jesse Arm, a University of Michigan sophomore and Central Student Government (CSG) representative, last month challenged fellow students who had assembled an anti-Israel display on campus. The altercation was caught on video and prompted Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), the group behind the display, to call on the student government’s ethics committee to dismiss Arm. SAFE members claimed Arm’s conduct was “unbecoming of a regular student, let alone a CSG representative.”

The demonstration took place on Nov. 19, the day that 18-year-old American student Ezra Schwartz was killed in a Palestinian terrorist attack in Israel.

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During a CSG meeting on Tuesday, University junior Matt Fidel, a former CSG representative himself, defended Arm by referring to Schwartz’s death. He said that after seeing footage of the confrontation, it is clear Arm was acting out of distress over the killing of Schwartz.

“This was an American kid from Boston studying abroad in Israel,” Fidel said of Schwartz. “I can tell you from first-hand experience this was a very emotional day in the Jewish community.”

Fidel urged the assembly not to remove Arm on the grounds that his behavior was not disrespectful. He warned the CSG against being “in the business of telling leaders on campus that they should not be standing up for what they believe in or voicing their opinions on what they feel strongly about.”

“To have this protest and then not even understand slightly why this may have been a triggering experience for members of this community on campus I think is insensitive and also not really logical,” he said, according to The Michigan Daily.

Business senior Alex Adler, who is also chair of the university’s Hillel, echoed Fidel’s comments, saying Arm “reacted emotionally.” Rather than investigating Arm’s behavior, he said, the CSG should encourage a dialogue on campus between different student groups.

“I’m not here to say if that was right or wrong, but what I will say that he is not the only one from the Jewish community who felt triggered,” Adler said. “I’m not here to play politics. What I am here to say is what we have is an opportunity to have dialogue and discourse like we should in an academic environment.”

Law student and former CSG member Jon Lin said the assembly’s decision to launch an ethics investigation “sets a very low bar for what this assembly considers to be conduct becoming of a representative.”

“In the past, representatives in this body have done all sorts things with activism on this assembly that have gone far beyond what I saw in this video,” he said, before referring to the arrest of assembly members during protests at past meetings of the University’s Board of Regents.

“So I wonder, if being arrested doesn’t count as conduct unbecoming of a representative and didn’t start ethics investigations, how does a civil discussion on the Diag [quad] reach that standard?” Lin challenged.

The CSG ethics committee has not yet revealed its decision on Arm’s investigation.

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  • Flip Sider

    Is it possible that this isn’t an issue of anti-semitism or anti-Israel/anti-Zionism, but that Jesse Arm acted in a way that is not dignified of someone in the student government. Arm’s fraternity was already banned from the Ann Arbor campus following the arrests of several of his Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity brothers in a weekend of destruction at Treetops Resort hotel that caused over $50,000 in damages. If Jesse Arm was part of this illegal activity, that could have easily been strike one against the youth and he deserves to be unseated in the student government.

  • Jan Rose

    This is just another case of pure anti-Semitism and unmitigated hatred of the Jews. There is no such thing as equal treatment for us. We are held to a higher standard whether as individuals or as a people, including our country, Israel. Just look at the United Nations treatment of Israel, look at the BDS movement that completely ignores all the technology and medical breakthroughs that come from Israel, look at how our current national leadership treats our only real ally in the Middle East. We must stand up to this kind of treatment whenever and wherever it occurs. We will not follow blindly ever again!

  • Al Talena

    So leftys & muslims can demonstrate, disrupt, etc and it’s called free speech. A Jew reacts and its disruptive.
    Tyranny of the PC Left and muslims

    • F Kass

      I agree 110%.

      Dual standard. The Jew haters can do as they please and it’s free speech. A Jew speaks up and it’s almost a criminal act.

      And to think it was rich Jews in Philadelphia who financed Gen’l Washington’s battle against the Brits and their tyranny. Now the tyranny is being visited on the Jews.

  • Lauren Goldman

    And yet, colleges allow pro-‘palestinian’ supporters to shout down lectures, disrupt assemblies and any group who supports Israel. Oh, I see, the old double standard. Right.

  • Martin Katchen

    We need to start at the high school level by bringing Betar to high school kids. Then WUJS for college. It takes training to know how to confront this kind of antisemitism. Australian Jewish students have had to confront this sort of thing for over 30 years. Handled right, it encourages students to be Zionist and even to entertain the prospect of aliyah–which is probably why many American parents will likely be afraid of this. This problem is not going to be solved by university speech codes but by Jewish students getting a lot tougher and realising that the US is not a post-antisemitic country.

  • basha kline

    Anyone who agrees with the murders of Jews by arabs are themselves guilty of pulling the trigger, throwing the rocks, or any other method of killing or maiming. These activists are not only showing themselves up for their total ignorance of the situation in Israel, or in fact any other area where bias of Jews and their products are prevalent, but allowing themselves to act as pawns for the architects of their own future demise.

  • I have read this article carefully. My impression is that at the University of Michigan importance is allocated to who you are, perhaps your religion, not to the right or wrong of your argument. If your convictions are in contrast with those who demonstrate most convincingly then you have to appear before an ethics committee.
    That makes me wonder just what the ethics of that committee are.

  • Reform School

    Is UMich’s MSA an orchestra? It plays CSG like a fiddle!

  • Michael Fox

    Jesse Arm is a hero. The vile head of anti-Semitism has once again reared its ugly head throughout Europe and on college campuses across America. Much of the hate is disguised behind the mask of opposition to Israel. Where is the great moral outrage against the quarter of a million Syrians who have died violent deaths these past ten years…and that slaughter continues. If we listen to President Obama, global warming is responsible for the deaths of those Syrians. Nice try O to shift the conversation focus from your failed foreign policy and Presidency.

    You will notice a direct correlation between President Obama’s condemnation of Israel and Israeli PM Netanyahu in Operation Protective Edge and the outburst of anti-Semitism that happened simultaneously.

    Hooray for Jesse Arm. We need more stand up Jews to confront the brain washed anti-Semites.

  • steven L

    It is SAFE to state that SAFE is behaving like NAZI.
    It is SAFE to wonder what they teach at Michigan Univ.!

  • Ephraim

    Typical of the McCarthy type tactics of the politically-coerced censorship bullies.

  • All tuition supported campus groups should be required to conduct their non-entertainment activities via the Socratic method instead of through street intimidation of the property. Why aren’t departmental officials arranging for monthly instructional student meetings open to all with Camus IDs, to be followed by student debates on outstanding questions sstimulated by the facts of each controversy?

    Platforms are formal affairs in educational and political environments – amateur hour belongs off campus for reasons of security and manipulation by outside groups. When emotion is punished on campus, return to the safety of formal academic presentations – after all, the losers aren’t required to drink hemlock at the following beer bash, are thy?

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