Student Leader: University of Wisconsin BDS Activists ‘Cleverly Manipulated’ Jewish Community to Pass Anti-Israel Resolution
Anti-Israel activists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) have been accused of having “cleverly manipulated” the Jewish community in order to successfully pass Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) legislation in an unanimous vote on Wednesday night.
Ariela Rivkin — the only Jewish voting member of Associated Students of Madison (ASM), the body that voted 22-0, with two abstentions, to adopt the pro-BDS resolution — told The Algemeiner on Thursday that BDS proponents “definitely orchestrated this to trick” pro-Israel students, by not broadcasting before the meeting that divesting from Israel was to be part of the agenda.
Instead, Rivkin said, the official agenda released 24 hours before the vote described the motion as, in general, about fossil fuels, prison labor, border walls and arms manufacturers.
“They listed items that many Jewish students wouldn’t oppose, without mentioning specific companies or countries, only to come prepared to the meeting with paragraphs of amendments about Israel to add in,” she explained.
Rivkin said the ASM acted “undemocratically” in participating in the undermining of Jewish voices, causing her and one other council member to walk out of the room before the vote.
Last night’s events concluded a month-long BDS saga at UW, which included a March 29 decision that “indefinitely postponed” a vote on the issue — after hours of debate, with some 200 Jewish students in attendance voicing opposition — followed by an ASM meeting that took place during Passover, at which the BDS issue was unexpectedly raised again. The decision to discuss the matter at a time when many Jews were absent caused four student representatives to walk out of that meeting in disgust.
Rivkin said that when Israel was dragged back into the resolution yesterday, she urged the council to “be cautious, and not bring up a motion ‘tabled indefinitely’ less than a month after that decision.” She said that, in response, the ASM chair told her, “F*** white supremacy,” implying that her comments had been bigoted.
UW Hillel called the ASM meeting an “utter sham,” according to campus paper the Badger Herald. The administration also made a statement immediately after the vote, writing that no university policies would be changed as a result and suggesting that the ASM’s actions may have “violate[d] a ruling of the Student Judiciary” due to their potentially “undemocratic and not transparent” nature.
A new student council will commence on May 1, at which time many motions voted in by the previous government, including the BDS resolution, will be voided.
Rivkin — who will not be serving on the next council — said the task for the next ASM will be to issue an apology for the treatment of the Jewish community over the last month.
“We are seeking justice,” she said. “And they will need to begin to repair the damage caused by this whole incident, and to ensure that such blatant exclusion of a particular group can’t ever happen again.”
She also encouraged Jewish students to become more involved in student government and “lay the groundwork” for making their voices heard at that campus level.