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Anti-Semitism, BDS, and the University of Michigan

Photo Credit: Ken Lund

On Tuesday, November 14th, the Student Government at the University of Michigan passed a BDS resolution which calls for the university’s Board of Regents to form a committee to investigate three Israeli companies who are alleged to be involved in human rights violations against Palestinians. Even though it has been repeatedly proven that Israel does not violate any human rights, or international laws, the committee will investigate whether these companies are truly committing the accusations and will determine what action, if any, should be pursued. So what does this mean for the Jewish students at the University of Michigan?

Because the state of Michigan has anti-BDS legislation, the resolution has no real influence on the university’s business at hand. However, the implication of the resolution passing means there is now a permissible anti-Semitic environment on the University of Michigan’s campus.

In a recent study, the strong correlation between anti-Zionist activity and acts of anti-Jewish hostility led researchers to conclude that BDS activity incites the expression and likelihood of anti-Jewish incidents on campus. For example, at UC Irvine, the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter is extremely active in anti-zionist activity. In addition to calling for divestment from Israel, they are known for disrupting and shutting down pro-Israel events through violent protests. These protests not only include the physical violence, but the verbal abuse of students as well. On video, “Palestinian activists” scream anti-Semitic phrases and slurs such as, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which is a chant used by the terrorist group Hamas to call for the ethnic cleansing of the Jewish people from Israel. Unfortunately, one must remember that this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of anti-semitism caused by BDS activity, and now it’s beginning to affect the University of Michigan.

At approximately 4500 students strong, the Jewish Community at the University of Michigan must now face the reality that they are under attack. Sure, they have an enormously strong community and do a fantastic job educating the student population on Israel and Jewish culture, but evidently their hard work was not enough to convince the student body that the BDS movement is based on anti-Semitism.

The Jewish population at Michigan needs to wake up. While they have great programming, deep resources, and the possibility of the resolution becoming null, the fact that they have allowed such a resolution speaks volumes about the state and effectiveness of their educational programming.

This is in no way a condemnation of the Jewish students and Israel advocates at Michigan, but simply a call to action for us all. Stand up to BDS. Stand up to Anti-Semitism. And most of all: Stand up for Israel.

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