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October 2, 2016 9:12 am

Brandeis Sophomore Successful in Modifying Student Motion to Exclude Anti-Israel Black Lives Matter Platform

avatar by Lea Speyer

Brandeis University campus. Photo: Brandeis University.

Brandeis. Photo: Brandeis University.

A Brandeis University sophomore from Israel told The Algemeiner how he brought about modifications to a Student Senate motion against racism that contained an anti-Jewish state platform.

Class of 2020 Senator Tal Richtman was referring to the governing body’s decision earlier this week to rescind its support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, whose official platform calls Israel an “apartheid state.”

Richtman said he explained to the Student Senate that because BLM  compares Israeli policy to genocide, “The declaration, as it stood, would hurt other populations on campus.”

Ritchman said that initially, the Senate’s anti-racism declaration echoed a motion passed by the Brandeis Student Union, which directly supported BLM. This, he said, ran counter to the Senate’s constitution and bylaws, according to which the group is supposed to be apolitical.

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He told The Algemeiner that his next step was to take practical action. “I explained to the Senate that I’m absolutely supportive of the fight against racism, but oppose any statement that could be interpreted as backing the anti-Israel platform of BLM,” he said.

Following more than an hour of deliberation, Richtman said, the Senate agreed to amend the declaration and remove the popular hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, from the language of the motion. It now indicates support for the university’s black community without aligning itself with a specific group.

Though the outcome was in Richtman’s favor, he said, the entire experience opened his eyes to a frightening reality.

“Students today are not informed enough,” he said. “At first, most of the senate and other student government members, including myself, didn’t know about BLM’s anti-Israel position.”

Richtman told The Algemeiner that the experience has made him appreciate being “not only a class representative, but Israeli, liberal and Jewish.”

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