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May 17, 2017 1:02 pm

Resolution Condemning Antisemitism Vetoed by Chapman University’s Jewish Student Government President, Who Cites Procedural Grounds

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Chapman University. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The president of Chapman University’s student government has vetoed a resolution condemning antisemitism that was passed earlier this month.

Mitchell Rosenberg announced on Monday that his decision had “little to do with the content of this resolution, and is more focused on the process by which this resolution came about.”

Rosenberg — who noted that he was a “proud Jewish student who condemns anti-Semitism vehemently” — said the motion was voted on at the last student government meeting of the semester, which, paired with the fact that “[t]his meeting was not sufficiently publicized” meant students did not have sufficient “opportunity to come… share their feedback, and weigh in on the ultimate decision.”

Both those for and against the resolution have since expressed their “differing opinions on the issue,” wrote Rosenberg, adding that he was “delight[ed]” when the “students who crafted the resolution” agreed to “sit down, work together, and make edits.”

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“In order to make any edits or have any further discussions on this specific resolution, it must be vetoed,” he continued, maintaining that he “would love to see a form of this bill enacted in the Fall.”

According to reporting by campus paper The Panther, those against the bill found the motion’s supposed stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict problematic, stating that the resolution could hinder anti-Israel student activism as it includes the demonization and delegitimization of the Jewish state as a form of antisemitism.

A Palestinian student, Safi Nazzal, who spoke with the campus paper said the bill was “very clearly meant to silence Palestinian” voices.

“If we are global citizens, we are allowed to critique other states,” said Nazal. “If I were to critique Saudi Arabia, I wouldn’t be called a xenophobe. If I were to critique Trump, I wouldn’t be called un-American. So if I critique Israel, I’m not an antisemite.”

When asked if he believes that anti-Zionism belongs in any description of antisemitism, Rosenberg told The Algemeiner, “I agree with the definition put forth by the United States Department of State,” which includes expressions of certain anti-Israel views.

Nicole Newman, one of the students who originally introduced the bill as co-founder of Chapman’s newly-formed chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI), commented on Facebook that she was “deeply disappointed” with Rosenberg’s decision to veto.

She told The Panther that she and her SSI co-founder, Leehe Reihanian, had gathered more than 100 signatures in support of the bill after the complaints arose, and that they had been willing to do more leg work to keep the bill in place.

Ilan Sinelnikov, founder of the national SSI organization, has claimed that Students for Justice in Palestine — which, like SSI, was officially recognized as a Chapman student group this semester — “pressured” Rosenberg into shutting down the motion.

Rosenberg told The Algemeiner, “All students [who] reached out to me and/or attended the round table discussion after the resolution was passed were clear that their comments were reflecting their own opinions and not the opinions of any groups they may be involved in.”

Sinelnikov also drew comparisons between the veto and demonstrations at SSI-hosted events at two other campuses last week, where police were called to escort students out of an IDF-related event at University of California-Irvine, and an Israeli dignitary was shouted down at City College of New York.

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