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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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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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  • The issue of BDS is a legitimate approach, used by many nations, including the U.S.A. in its effort to restrict trade with those who don’t agree with the State Department. This being said I feel that the issue is the manner in which students interact with each other that honors or dishonors civil exchange not just of free speech but in the true effort to understand each others life experiences and the derived points of view. I stand strong for Israel and at the same time may be confused or disagree with certain policies, as most of us do politically here at home whether we are a Democrat or a Republican, a Conservative or Progressive or someone seeking the lost Middle Ground of Collaboration and Cooperation.

  • Dani Renan

    I see no problem in their request, since there are no companies allegedly “complicit in” or “profiting from” Israel’s “ongoing military occupation, apartheid, and other human rights violations in Palestine/Israel.

    That is because there is no occupation, and surely not a military occupation. (per Geneva IV. The legal definitions as to occupation are clearly spelled out.

    There is no apartheid, well at least from Israel’s side. There is to a degree from the “Palestinians”. The reason that it is only to a degree and not full fledged is because there is no “state action” since there is no state. But still as a quasi-state(s) with governmental functions they are among the most apartheid minded of all the countries in the world. (pretty much they hate everyone that is not them, but with a obviously special hatred for al-Yahud).

    There are many other human rights violations in Palestine/Israel. But, again, they are concentrated in the Palestinian ruled areas (PA and Gaza).

    • Jessica Zuzierla

      How is there no apartheid or occupation or settlements? Israel built a wall to separate Palestinians from Israelis, which the United Nations International Court of Justice ruled illegal (source below). Israeli military routinely forces Palestinians out of their homes and off their land, while Israelis occupy the homes and build on the land in their place, and then further builds up the occupied land east of the armistice line illegally.

      The UN and international courts have also ruled Israel’s actions illegal, based on the Geneva Fourth Convention (I understand that Israel says the Fourth Convention doesn’t apply, but that’s like waving a magic wand and saying the Sun is the moon. It’s like the U.S. deciding to go into Canada, build a wall “for security” and boot Canadians out of their homes, while we take over and start building on their land – NATO doesn’t apply, so we’re allowed. Um… No. Yet, that’s exactly what Israel is doing to Palestinians. Israel agreed to abide by certain laws and obligations – all of which Israel has since ignored or done the opposite. Then, there’s the separate roads for Israelis, the law applied differently to Israelis and Palestinians, and more. Citing “security” is not the magic want that allows Israel to do what it wants and get away with it.

      From the international Court of Justice/United Nations via

      “In a 2004 advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice, “Israel cannot rely on a right of self-defence or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall”. The Court asserted that “the construction of the wall, and its associated régime, are contrary to international law.”

      Additionally, any settlement, removal of Palestinians from their homes and land for any reason is illegal, period. Yet Israel does it anyway.

  • brenrod

    parents and taxpayers spending a lot on these BDS campaigns instead of studies. All those federal and state grants and loans from the taxpayers going to BDS students. It should be cut off to them.