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April 27, 2017 4:55 pm

California University President Praised for Condemning BDS as Student Government Weighs Anti-Israel Resolution

avatar by Rachel Frommer

California State University, Long Beach. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The president of a California university has been applauded by Jewish campus groups for taking on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in a letter that was published on Wednesday as her school’s student government considered an anti-Israel resolution.

California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) President Jane Conoley has been hailed by Hillel International for her “strong and principled leadership in standing up to the targeting of Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus,” after she wrote a letter calling on students to reject a BDS motion titled, “Suggestions for Socially Responsible Investing: Companies Complacent in and Profiting from Palestinian Oppression” — introduced by CSULB’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

Conoley’s concerns included the BDS campaign’s “oppos[ition] to the existence of the State of Israel” and the fact that “the adoption of [BDS] resolutions has often been accompanied by increases in Anti-Jewish graffiti, vandalism, and physical attacks.”

The letter outlined a total of six reasons for the president’s opposition to BDS, including her view that a campus resolution would have “no actual impact on the very complex and long standing conflicts in the Middle East.”

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Ilan Sinelnikov, founder of grassroots campus organization Students Supporting Israel, welcomed Conoley’s letter, but also criticized the president’s implied comparison of the Israeli government and  the Hamas terrorist organization in a line in which she noted her “disagree[ment]” with both entities.

“I hope [Conoley] realizes that, while it is fine to disagree with Israel’s leadership, when we bring up Hamas we not only need to disagree with it, we need to condemn it and disapprove of this terrorist organization completely,” Sinelnikov said. “Next time, [she] needs to reconsider putting a terror organization in the same line with the only democratic country in the Middle East.”

Conoley released her letter before a meeting on Wednesday night of the CSULB Associated Students Inc. to discuss the resolution, which demands that the university and CSULB Auxilaries divest from seven companies that supposedly “profit from human rights violations against Palestinian people,” according to campus paper the Daily 49er.

Kelsey Kimmes, who runs student group 49ers for Israel, told The Algemeiner she was grateful to Conoley for speaking out, adding that she hoped the student government would follow the president’s lead in rejecting SJP’s motion.

“BDS has no place on our campus,” she said. “CSULB prides itself on being a diverse and inclusive community, but this divestment resolution divides us and incites anti-Jewish sentiments on campus. As a Jewish and pro-Israel student, I feel personally targeted.”

The Daily 49er reported that antisemitic fliers and swastikas have appeared around campus on multiple occasions this year, with the most recent incident occurring on Monday, which was Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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