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December 19, 2016 12:16 pm

Anti-Israel University of Michigan Professor ‘Puzzled’ by ‘Fizzling’ BDS Activism on Campus

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University of Michigan, Dearborn campus. Photo: Dave Parker/Wikimedia Commons.

University of Michigan, Dearborn campus. Photo: Dave Parker/Wikimedia Commons.

Students at the University of Michigan, Dearborn (UMD) have lost interest in anti-Israel activism, a faculty member and long-time BDS activist told local independent newspaper Arab American News on Thursday. 

David Skrbina, a professor of philosophy, said he is “puzzled” as to why Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement activity at the school has “fizzled” out, the newspaper reported.

“I would always expect [UMD’s student body] to be a leading charge among the whole US on these kinds of issues,” he said. “But no…[I]t’s kind of a disappointment that we don’t see more action from the students.”

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UMD’s Arab Student Union and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter “seem to be shying away from divestment talks,” possibly due to feeling intimidated or fearful of being surveilled for their efforts, Skrbina said. As a result, he lamented, he has been forced to “[fight] the battle on his own.”

Since 2005, the UMD student government has passed six BDS resolutions, calling on the university to cut all ties with the Jewish state. These anti-Israel motions, when presented to the school’s Board of Regents, have been dismissed, and the Faculty Senate recently voted down a similar initiative.

Skrbina said that despite the administration’s repeated rejection of BDS, he tries to “stress to [students] that it’s important to make the statement, even if it’s a morale statement.”

Dearborn, Michigan is home to one of the oldest and most visible Arab-American communities, and UMD boasts a large, vibrant population of Arab and Muslim students. The campus has been the site of several antisemitic and anti-Zionist events in recent years.

As The Algemeiner reported, UMD’s SJP came under fire in November after it hosted a “Zionism is scary” bake sale during Halloween. The event featured cookies and cakes with Palestinian flag icing and a board of quotes “from the Zionist mind.” A representative of the group explained to The Algemeiner at the time that the event was justified “because Zionism constitutes antisemitism.”

UMD is not the only Michigan-based university feeling the lack of enthusiasm for Israel boycotts. In November, a BDS resolution at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor was defeated by a landslide vote, the 10th anti-Israel resolution to be knocked down by the school’s student government since 2002.

Support for such anti-Israel activity also appeared to be waning on some Canadian college campuses when, as The Algemeiner reported, a BDS motion at the University of Toronto was voted down in November.

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  • Y. Weber

    It is interesting that the “leader” of BDS at this campus is a PROFESSOR! BDS is “supposed” to be a student movement.
    There is a potential conflict of interest when the spokesperson and leader of a supposed “student” group is not even a student, and is in the position of giving passing or failing grades to innocent students! I for one feel sad for the students taking his courses, who are no doubt under pressure to agree with his dangerous views — I mean, who wants to get a bad grade in any class?!
    I, for one, am in awe of Jewish university students who never signed up for having to deal with the hatred and harassment, etc., of Jews and of Eretz Yisrael, that is part and parcel of being a student at so many universities in the US and Canada (and elsewhere) today. These guileless students’ families are paying huge amounts of money for the “privilege” of being objects of scorn (and worse)!
    It is a bit reassuring to hear that this anti-Jewish, anti-Eretz-Yisrael propaganda is turning out to be just a fad at many of these universities. May this “hatred of Jews and of Eretz Yisrael is passe” attitude sweep the halls of academia, worldwide, with great enthusiasm! During the college years, so much can be cemented-into a student, of adult attitudes for the rest of their lives. I can only hope that retaining this hatred after college is the exception rather than the rule for today’s students.

  • Abelardy

    BDS is anti-Semitism. Evidently, the students are wising up. This is good news.

  • frankiec_2005

    These professors–supposedly liberals–don’t even understand that they are engaging in anti-Semitism stemming from Communist KGB propaganda about Jews being capitalists (despite the fact that Jews are very very mixed politically)–and that capitalists are imperialists (despite the fact that the Soviet Union was the greatest imperialist of the 20th Century while Jews returning to Judea cannot by definition be imperialist) and by implication therefore that Jews are imperialists (despite the fact that Jews were not really ever very fond of any empire or emperor anywhere–quite the opposite).

    Those lies and silly logic are the fundamental reason that these stupid Lefties single out Israel–the anti-Semitic agitprop originated in the KGB, which inspired the American Left in the 1960s and 1970s. And many of these stupid Lefties don’t even realize the pedigree and origin of their own political camp and how it came to the beliefs it espouses–largely because the Left doesn’t much tolerate dissent or questioning–kind of like George Orwell warned.

    Noam Chomsky was so inspired by KGB propaganda that he is a Cambodian Holocaust denier, actually the leading denier in the world.

    Shameful, pathetic lemmings.

  • mhklein

    Not surprised. BDS is based on emotion, not on reasoned analysis of the facts.

  • frankiec_2005

    The mere fact that you never heard a peep from Leftist academics on the genocides in Cambodia, Congo/Zaire, Sudan, and Bangladesh in which 13 million were killed in total across those four, and which dwarf–dwarf–all other human conflicts combined in the past 50 years–reveals that Leftist academics are far more interested in looking good than in doing good. Hypocritical, narcissistic, groupthink idiots.

  • frankiec_2005

    The Left on campus are a parity of themselves, faculty and students included.

    “Cause-du-jour”, narcissistic fad followers.

  • Olterigo

    For all the more hopeful reasons presented in the comments, I suspect it was far simpler and not as positive – a large chunk of the UMD student body is comprised of Arabs and/or Muslims. And they can themselves clearly see how much outsized attention Palestinians get, compared, e.g., to Syrians and Iraqis, of whom there are now several times more dead in a few years than have died both Jews and Arabs since 1948… I don’t think it’s much of any realization of Palestinians’ inability to make peace, I suppose it’s just disillusionment that other Arabs/Muslims in their time of need don’t get the attention that Palestinians do.

  • Blankety-Blank

    What a remarkable notion! It might be conceivable that some academic institutions are actually capable of intellectual rigor. So far, that seems to have proved an elusive ambition in such socially-fashion-conscious anti-intellectual loci, but perhaps we are seeing the growth of new forms of human capacity? I can only dream.

  • SteveC1

    I find it hard to believe that in this day and age there are ANY adults who would be “surprised” at the fickle transience of childrens’ fads (and YES American college students are children and YES among those of them who got “hooked” onto BDS it has been nothing but a fad for them).
    Given the lack of any factual, rational or otherwise logical basis to BDS it could not have been expected to last forever, CERTAINLY not on US college or university campuses.

  • Everybody is sick and tired of the Palestinians and their phony cause. There are dozens of far worse situations all over the Middle East (starting with Syria) requiring the attention of the world, and the same world is finally realizing to what degree it has been manipulated and lied to by the Palestinians. They had many chances and they blew them all (in most cases literally). Now it’s over. Time to move on.

  • Joseph Feld

    If students are genuinely opposed to ‘occupation’ they should oppose the ‘occupation’ of Gibraltar by Britain, the Falklansds by Britain, Northern Cyprus by Turkey as well as the occupations of Tibet, Kashmir, Kurdistan, Kabylia, Western Sahara, Ukraine, Quebec, South Ossetia, Chechnia, Transnistria . . . .To single out the Jewish ‘occupation’ of the Old City of Jerusalem and the land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, the most Jewish place on earth, is irrational. The students deserve credit for seeing the truth, even if the professor doesn’t.

  • Jonah

    The leading spear thrower has been dethroned. The Obamanites have lost their might. They will now slither into a hole away from light until another of their ilk returns to Washington to champion their plight. Until then woe unto those in Europe who were taken down by Obamas deceptive ploys no more lip stick, powder, wine and cheese….those left alive will fall and beg please please please we will warship your God but our courts make it clear Jesus will not be heard in our country then the end will be here.

    • mhklein

      Oh, come on. Obama was never anti-Israel. That is a flat lie. But I’m glad that the BDS movement is losing strength.

    • frankiec_2005

      These professors–supposedly liberals–don’t even understand that they are engaging in anti-Semitism stemming from Communist KGB propaganda about Jews being capitalists (despite the fact that Jews are very very mixed politically)–and that capitalists are imperialists (despite the fact that the Soviet Union was the greatest imperialist of the 20th Century while Jews returning to Judea cannot by definition be imperialist) and by implication therefore that Jews are imperialists (despite the fact that Jews were not really ever very fond of any empire or emperor anywhere–quite the opposite).

      Those lies and silly logic are the fundamental reason that these stupid Lefties single out Israel–the anti-Semitic agitprop originated in the KGB, which inspired the American Left in the 1960s and 1970s. And many of these stupid Lefties don’t even realize the pedigree and origin of their own political camp and how it came to the beliefs it espouses–largely because the Left doesn’t much tolerate dissent or questioning–kind of like George Orwell warned.

      Noam Chomsky was so inspired by KGB propaganda that he is a Cambodian Holocaust denier, actually the leading denier in the world.

      Shameful, pathetic lemmings.

  • jobacon

    Dearborn is not only a center of the population of the USA of Arab origin, it is also where Henry Ford was most active in his antisemitic campaigns, so it has traditionally been a hotbed of antisemitism.

  • Lia

    Such good news! Thank you.

  • Peter Joffe

    Prof why are you puzzled? I feel that it is because students have found out that the reason they go to University is to learn something useful and to Make their Universities Great Again. A hate filed university does not concentrate on education! Wake up a smell the roses that want to bloom again.

  • Thought is Free

    The students are tired of the lies peddled by the BDS.

  • Tzanchan77

    This guy was the pen pal to the Unabomber

  • CarolAnnD

    Thanks for the good news. It would be interesting to know the reasons for the decline of the BDS movement on campuses. Perhaps it is in part due to the obscenely ugly head of Islamist terrorism raising its head and having an appreciation for Israel having to deal with its own Islamist issue. It could also be that a number of black Muslim student groups at different campuses drew public attention to the fact that Arab Muslims were arrogant and exclusive towards the blacks. It could also be that while anti-Israel activities were initially a way to unite Shia and Sunni Muslims, their hatred for each other and the divisiveness that caused dampened their ardor. Really there are many reasons that this could be. But to say that Muslim students are afraid of being under surveillance is giving into the Islamic self-serving attitude of being victims. We shouldn’t be playing their hands for them.

    It is absurd to say that Muslim students are feeling intimidated, especially when this administration has not stood up for Jewish students who are actually being intimidated in multiple ways. Again, this is giving in to the dysfunctional Muslim narrative as the real victim. They are victims, but they are victims of Islam and its hatred of our freedoms, its misogyny, non-Muslims. They are victims of a religion that tells them they are superior to everyone else, and the cognitive dissonance of seeing that it’s far from true.

    So while it’s good news that BDS seems to be on the wane, we should not be using Islamic victim propaganda to support their disturbed and distorted narrative.

  • laurie

    I hope any of several reasons account for the “fizzling out”. 1) Someone has actually studied the FACTS – to finally realize they have been mislead by others who have their OWN agenda. 2) Whoever was funding them…..has cut back the $$$ 3) Understanding finally that their actions are HURTFUL to the Palestinians IN Israel 4) closing businesses IN Israel merely makes Palestinians UNEMPLOYED!!! 5) All their innocent but misguided efforts….were NOT helping the Israeli Palestinians…but gave the ones HERE a job!! Need I go one??

  • zvi gross

    This professor should be exported to Gaza or Tehran. No room for this racist bigot in the US.

  • UR

    Well, that’s one way of putting what racists are made to feel upon being confronted for their racism: “due to feeling intimidated or fearful of being surveilled”

  • Gee

    In other words “Keep on wasting your time, it’s not like you are doing anything worthwhile with your lives”

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