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June 6, 2016 6:18 pm

Portland State U President Slams ‘Divisive and Ill-Informed’ BDS Divestment Resolution

avatar by Lea Speyer

Portland State University President Wim Wiewel warned a student government BDS resolution is "divisive and ill-informed." Photo: PSU.

Portland State University President Wim Wiewel warned that an upcoming student government BDS resolution is “divisive and ill-informed.” Photo: PSU.

The upcoming Portland State University (PSU) student government vote on Monday over divestment from companies doing business with the Israeli military is “divisive and ill-informed,” the school’s president warned in a statement on Thursday ahead of the vote.

President Wim Wiewel came out against the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) International Affairs Committee-sponsored resolution, which follows recommendations from the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to cut ties with Israeli companies that “have been found to profit from human rights violations against Palestinian civilians by the Israeli government.” The resolution — which was officially set for a vote following a May 23 debate — names four companies that “deny Palestinians basic civil rights:” HP, Motorola Solutions, Caterpillar and G4S.

Wiewel issued his statement in response to concerns raised by Hillel International President Eric Fingerhut. In a letter sent to Weiwel on Wednesday and obtained by The Algemeiner, Fingerhut expressed his deep concern for the increasingly hostile environment Jewish and pro-Israel students at PSU are facing. Alongside antisemitic acts at PSU – such as two separate instances of Nazi swastikas being carved on dormitories — Fingerhut warned the “atmosphere [at PSU] will likely be exacerbated by the introduction of the anti-Israel divestment resolution.”

“Our national experience in this area shows that BDS campaigns are typically accompanied by antisemitism on campus. Student backers of such divestment bills often employ hateful and antisemitic rhetoric that intimidates Jewish and pro-Israel students. The charged campaigns also create divisions on campus that inhibit learning, growth and the free exchange of ideas the academy holds dear,” he wrote.

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While Wiewel said he supports the “right of students to express political, economic and social opinions,” the upcoming BDS resolution will only lead to further division. His statement read, in part:

More importantly, I do not support this resolution because I am concerned by the divisiveness and tenor of the conversation that has taken us to this place. There is no question that members of the PSU community have divergent views about Israel, Palestine and the Middle East in general. Robust debate is central to the educational mission of a public university. So it is not clear why the ASPSU International Affairs Committee feels it is appropriate to dictate an opinion about the policies of one nation when there are multiple governments and corporations whose policies and practices we may disagree with.

We are responsible for respecting the rights of all members of our campus community. The tone and tenor of the BDS movement has made members of our community feel unsafe and unwelcome at PSU, and it is not acceptable to marginalize or scapegoat them. Antisemitism cannot and will not be tolerated on our campus.

The anti-Israel movement at PSU is very active and the campus has become a hotbed of BDS activity. The school recently made headlines when documentary filmmaker Ami Horowitz posed as a representative for a fake Hamas charity and was able to solicit donations for the Gaza-based terror group while explicitly stating the charity’s goal was to “wipe Israel off the map.”

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