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December 20, 2020 8:34 pm

Tufts University Group Condemns Passage of ‘Modern-Day Antisemitic Blood Libel’ by Student Government

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avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Tufts University. Photo: Pete Jelliffe / Flickr.

A student group at Tufts University that advocates for Jewish rights on campus strongly condemned the college’s student government for passing a referendum over the weekend that blames Israel for police violence against people of color, calling it “a modern-day antisemitic blood libel.”

The anti-Israel hate group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter at the Massachusetts institution got the initiative — which calls for the “demilitarization” of the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) due to its alleged connections with Israel — on a Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate special election ballot.

The resolution was passed by 68% to 26%—1,725 in favor, 665 opposed, and 161 abstentions, according to the student newspaper Tufts Daily.

The Daily also reported that the referendum was passed by illegitimate means, with two major violations of the election process.

The Elections Commission of the Tufts Community Union (ECOM) stated, “The full wordings of the referenda were not made public at least nine days before the election as required by the Constitution.”

In addition, it said, “The referenda did not have a receipt date with the Elections Commission at least seven days before the vote, as required by the Elections Commission bylaws.”

Bizarrely, ECOM nonetheless declared that the results were valid.

The Real Reform at Tufts Campaign, a grassroots student movement which opposed the resolution, said in a statement, “We are deeply disappointed in the results of the antisemitic ‘deadly exchange’ referendum.”

“We strongly believe that voting for a referendum based on mistruths that propagates a modern-day antisemitic blood libel will not fix a broken policing system in America or get us closer to racial justice,” they asserted.

The group also charged that the vote showed “disregard of the TCU constitution and the democratic process.”

It added that it remains committed to police reform, “while continuing to reject the antisemitic campaign led by SJP.”

“Join us in demanding the Tufts administration publicly rejects this antisemitic referendum,” the group urged.

The campaign’s leaders told The Algemeiner on Sunday that the initiative was formed to foster reforms in campus policing as well as to oppose “the referendum’s hateful and dangerous pretense. One that claims Jewish individuals, Jewish organizations, and the Jewish state are to blame for the abuse and killings of black Americans at the hands of police, and the alleged surveillance of black and brown students on Tufts’ campus.”

Rabbi Naftali Brawer, the Executive Director of Tufts Hillel, and Jacob Fried, the Tufts Hillel Student President, said in a statement, “We, like many, believe that a vigorous debate about the nature of policing in America and indeed on college campuses is long overdue. We welcome Tufts students raising their voices in this important debate.”

“At the same time, we are deeply concerned about this referendum, which based on its language and inferences, is more about vilifying Israel than addressing police reform in this country,” they said. “What makes this particularly distressing is that it forces students to denounce Israel or stand accused of endorsing militarized police. We reject this misleading and unfair choice.”

“We support students who are distressed by, and critical of, militarized police,” they asserted. “And we are also supportive of the State of Israel and the students for whom Israel constitutes a core part of their identity.”

In an op-ed published in support of the resolution last month, SJP explicitly justified the referendum with unsubstantiated claims, saying, “Since 2004, hundreds of American law enforcement officials have gone on these exchange trips. … Under the guise of ‘counterterrorism,’ participants have learned Israeli military tactics for intelligence gathering, border security and forceful suppression of protest.”

“This is the Deadly Exchange, the mutual advancement of the United States’ and Israel’s discriminatory and repressive policing,” the group asserted.

The “Deadly Exchange” conspiracy theory has been repeatedly discredited, as the training given to US police forces by Israel is confined to senior law enforcement officers and deals with counter-terrorism management, not tactical or hands-on training.

The accusation is seen by many in the Jewish community as akin to a blood libel.

Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine celebrated the success of the referendum on Saturday night, describing the result as an “enormous victory in our struggle against white supremacy and militarism on Tufts campus and globally.”

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