Univer­sity body blasted for Is­rael di­vest­ment vote on Passover.

Anti-Is­rael mea­sure held on Passover eve

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY VALERIE RICHARD­SON

Stu­dent gov­ern­ment at Tufts Univer­sity in Mas­sachusetts stoked out­rage this week by ap­prov­ing an anti-Is­rael di­vest­ment mea­sure on the eve of Passover, spurring ac­cu­sa­tions that the tim­ing was in­tended to min­i­mize op­po­si­tion from the Jewish com­mu­nity.

The res­o­lu­tion urges Tufts to di­vest from four com­pa­nies ac­cused of be­ing in­volved in “hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions against Pales­tini­ans,” and was ap­proved 17-6-8 fol­low­ing a de­bate that be­gan late Sun­day and fin­ished nearly four hours later after mid­night, the first day of the Jewish hol­i­day.

The univer­sity fired off a state­ment crit­i­ciz­ing the res­o­lu­tion, say­ing Tufts “does not adopt in­sti­tu­tional po­si­tions with re­spect to spe­cific geopo­lit­i­cal is­sues,” and ad­mon­ish­ing the Tufts Com­mu­nity Union Se­nate for re­fus­ing to resched­ule the vote.

“We are con­cerned that the sup­port­ers of this res­o­lu­tion chose to place it on the Se­nate agenda im­me­di­ately be­fore Passover, a time when some stu­dents in­ter­ested in this is­sue were away from cam­pus, and op­posed a mo­tion by some mem­bers of the Se­nate to ta­ble the res­o­lu­tion in the in­ter­est of fur­ther un­der­stand­ing of its con­text and ram­i­fi­ca­tions,” read the Mon­day state­ment from the of­fice of Tufts Pres­i­dent An­thony P. Monaco.

Crit­ics of the res­o­lu­tion, in­clud­ing some Tufts alumni, also de­cried the lack of trans­parency. The live feed on Face­book car­ried audio but not video, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to tell how in­di­vid­ual se­na­tors voted, and film­ing and pho­to­graph were for­bid­den dur­ing the dis­cus­sion.

“Tufts will not get a dol­lar more form this alum­nus. To hold a vote on Is­rael on the eve of Passover (so as to ex­clude Jewish stu­dents?) is dis­gust­ing,” said Jon Fe­d­er­man on Face­book. “I’m ashamed to be a Jumbo.”

The se­crecy stemmed from con­cerns about safety, said Adam Rap­fo­gel, the Se­nate par­lia­men­tar­ian, who does not have a vote.

“As groups like the Ca­nary Mis­sion have re­cently posted per­sonal in­for­ma­tion of stu­dents who sup­port BDS or hold other per­ceived anti-Is­rael po­si­tions, many mem­bers of the Ex­ec­u­tive Board were con­cerned for the safety of many peo­ple in the room,” he said in an email.

Even so, two se­na­tors later gave state­ments prais­ing the out­come in a press re­lease by Tufts Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine, which spon­sored the mea­sure.

“As a TCU Sen­a­tor, I am so proud that our elected stu­dent body gov­ern­ment chose tonight to be on the right side of his­tory,” said Parker Breza. “Tonight, the Tufts stu­dent body an­swered the call of the Pales­tinian peo­ple to di­vest from these four com­pa­nies that are prof­it­ing off of the oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tine, among a host of other gross vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights.”

Tufts Jewish Voice for Peace, which sup­ported the res­o­lu­tion, called it “un­for­tu­nate” that Jewish stu­dents trav­el­ing home or pre­par­ing for the hol­i­days were un­able to make the meet­ing, but not a deal-breaker.

“The as­sump­tion that the Jewish stu­dents who are trav­el­ing the day be­fore Passover and are un­able to make it would only care about this one bill — and not the pass­ing of all TCU club bud­gets for the next fis­cal year which is also hap­pen­ing on Sun­day night — per­pet­u­ates the con­fla­tion of Ju­daism with the State of Is­rael,” said Tufts JVP in a Thurs­day state­ment.

“This con­fla­tion plays into the an­tiSemitic and hurt­ful idea that the only way to be Jewish is to sup­port the State of Is­rael fully and un­con­di­tion­ally,” said the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Tufts SJP leader Molly Tu­nis told the Elec­tronic In­tifada that her group had worked all se­mes­ter on the res­o­lu­tion, which Mr. Rap­fo­gel said was sub­mit­ted April 3, the week be­fore the fi­nal meet­ing of the year.

“Since there is cur­rently no mech­a­nism in place to post­pone res­o­lu­tions due to sched­ul­ing con­flicts and the April 9 meet­ing was the last of the aca­demic year — mean­ing if the res­o­lu­tion was not heard on Sun­day, it would not be heard un­til at least Septem­ber — the res­o­lu­tion had to at the very least be heard at the meet­ing,” he said.

Was that a co­in­ci­dence? Ms. Tu­nis said the res­o­lu­tion “was not in­ten­tion­ally put the day be­fore Passover be­gins,” but Is­rael sup­port­ers say or­ches­trat­ing Boy­cott, Di­vest and Sanc­tions [BDS] votes on Jewish hol­i­days has be­come an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar cam­pus tac­tic.

In 2016, Port­land State Univer­sity stu­dent gov­ern­ment “took up a BDS res­o­lu­tion against Is­rael at a meet­ing the day be­fore Yom Kip­pur and passed it on the Jewish hol­i­day of Shem­ini Atzeret,” ac­cord­ing to the Al­ge­meiner.

At Cor­nell Univer­sity, a 2014 di­vest­ment vote was “man­aged in such a way as to pro­vide the bare min­i­mum no­tice and, most im­por­tant, just be­fore the Jewish hol­i­day of Passover, when many Jewish stu­dents travel home,” said Cor­nell Law School pro­fes­sor Wil­liam A. Ja­cob­son.

“I have seen this movie be­fore,” said Mr. Ja­cob­son, who called the Tufts vote “very much a sneak at­tack by SJP,” in Le­gal In­sur­rec­tion.

The se­nate ar­ranged for those who could not at­tend to sub­mit com­ments via Google Form be­fore the meet­ing and re­ceived 83 re­sponses, some of which were read out loud dur­ing the meet­ing, but op­po­nents said that wasn’t enough to pro­vide bal­ance.

“Stu­dents and other mem­bers of the Tufts com­mu­nity re­peat­edly asked the TCU Se­nate to post­pone the de­bate, but their re­quests were ig­nored,” said Zach Shar­tiag, New Eng­land cam­pus co­or­di­na­tor of the pro-Is­rael group StandWithUs.

“As a re­sult, many stu­dents who are di­rectly af­fected by this is­sue were de­nied the op­por­tu­nity to voice their opin­ions prior to the vote,” Mr. Shar­tiag said. “The pur­pose of stu­dent gov­ern­ment is to rep­re­sent stu­dents, but in­stead the TCU Se­nate chose to si­lence many of them.”

Tufts, lo­cated in Med­ford, Mas­sachusetts, is­sued a state­ment in 2013 op­pos­ing a res­o­lu­tion of the Amer­i­can Stud­ies As­so­ci­a­tion call­ing for a boy­cott of Is­raeli aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions.

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