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April 28, 2017 5:04 pm

Dozens of Pro-Israel Groups Call on Tufts President to Take Action After BDS Vote on Passover Eve ‘Deliberately Excluded’ Jews

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avatar by Rachel Frommer

Tufts University. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Forty-five pro-Israel organizations signed a letter that was sent to the president of Tufts University on Thursday demanding that action be taken against the school’s student government for voting in favor of a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) resolution on the eve of Passover.

The letter — organized by the AMCHA Initiative campus watchdog group — charges the Tufts Community Union (TCU) senate with having “deliberately excluded many Jewish students, depriving them of their freedom of expression and the right to full participation in campus life.”

It called the scheduling of a vote on a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)-backed motion so close to a major Jewish holiday a “malevolent manipulation of student government procedure in order to eliminate pro-Israel voices from debates about BDS.”

The letter urged President Anthony Monaco and the university’s board of trustees to uphold their “ethical obligations” and ensure all students have the ability to voice their views.

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It also recommended five ways to create an improved free-speech environment on campus. These included directing the TCU senate “to nullify the divestment resolution vote and schedule a re-vote for a time when the resolution can be fairly discussed and debated”; the imposition of “prompt and appropriate disciplinary measures” against students who impede or suppress the freedom of expression of others; and the establishment of “educational and training programs…[to] inculcate an understanding of and appreciation for the First Amendment and Tufts’ own ‘Declaration on Freedom of Expression.'”

AMCHA co-founder Tammi Rossman-Benjamin told The Algemeiner, “We decided we needed to do something, because we realized there’s this serious new twist in SJP’s tactics of yet another way to stifle the freedom of expression and speech of any Zionists. The intention of [the vote’s scheduling] was, to us, so clearly an attempt at squashing any expression that is pro-Israel.”

The groups who signed the letter included the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, Alums for Campus Fairness, Christians and Jews United for Israel, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, Middle East Forum, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Students Supporting Israel and Zionist Organization of America.

A Tufts public relations representative told The Algemeiner the university had received and was reviewing the letter.

Following the BDS vote, the Tufts Board of Trustees announced that it “will not divest from companies doing business in Israel.”

As The Algemeiner reported, Passover saw a number of anti-Israel actions taken at universities across North America, including a BDS resolution passed on Easter Sunday at Pitzer College, Israeli Apartheid Weeks at Harvard University and the University of New Mexico and a “Passover Against Apartheid” event at Concordia University in Montreal.

According to experts, scheduling programming for days when Jewish and Zionist students are not on campus is part of BDS activists’ strategy to eliminate Israel’s narrative from campus conversations.

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