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October 5, 2018 10:10 am

University of Michigan Students Who Support Divestment: ‘We are Not BDS’

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The University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Mich. Photo: Jha4ceb/Wikimedia Commons. – Recently an associate professor in the American Culture department at the University of Michigan drew headlines over his decision to deny a student a letter of recommendation for a semester-long study-abroad program at Tel Aviv University.

But this incident was not an isolated event; it exemplified a recent disturbing trend at the school.

Canary Mission – a watchdog of anti-Israel groups – recently released a detailed report in June about the University of Michigan, whose student government passed a BDS resolution in November 2017 through a secret ballot.

Initiated by Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), the University of Michigan chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the resolution called for the academic institution to severe its connections to the Jewish state through “a ​​non-violent​ ​way​ ​to​ ​put​ ​pressure” on the school, according to minutes from the Central Student Government (CSG) meeting, where the measure succeeded.

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Forty individuals were key to the resolution’s success: four SAFE activists were behind the #UMDivest campaign, which was launched a month before the resolution’s passage; four co-authors and one co-sponsor of the resolution, three of whom affiliated with SAFE; four professional BDS activists spoke in favor of the resolution; five pro-BDS students, including the CSG vice president, in addition to seven representatives, also advocated for the resolution; and 15 representatives who voted for the measure.

SAFE members denied that the resolution was related to BDS. “We are not BDS; we are just divestment,” Arwa Gayar told the CSG last year on Nov. 7.

“This is not part of the BDS movement,” Yara Gayar told the CSG during the resolution vote on Nov. 14.

“We really want to distinguish ourselves from the leaders of the broader BDS movement,” Reema Kaakarli said, attempting to refute that it was a BDS resolution.

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