by Evan Stern, Development Director
If you’re interested in happenings at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, or you are active in the pro-Israel community, you are probably aware of Tuesday’s MSA (Minnesota Student Association) special forum to vote on two resolutions of major importance to the Jewish and pro-Israel communities. The student group, Students for Justice in Palestine recently introduced a measure that would require the University to divest pension funds from certain companies that do business with the Israel Defense Forces. In response to this resolution, Students Supporting Israel introduced its own resolution condemning anti-Semitism on campus and urging the University to adopt the US State Department definition of anti-Semitism.
As a University of Minnesota alumnus and past student president of its Hillel, I’ve been concerned with the growing divestiture/deligitimization movement on the Twin Cities campus. Criticism of the policies of the State of Israel has a place on campus, but this measure is in fact part of a global effort to delegitimize Israel and ultimately lead to the end the Jewish state. It’s worth noting that many of the measure’s supporters have genuinely good intentions and don’t want to destroy Israel or harm Jews. Unfortunately, groups advancing these measures on campuses are pawns in a larger global anti-Israel movement.
I attended Tuesday’s forum to support the pro-Israel students and hear firsthand the debate on both resolutions. Tensions in the room were high. The forum was packed—standing room only. Dozens of Jewish community leaders from both sides of the river came to show their support.
In a highly unanticipated move, the meeting opened with a motion to strike both resolutions from the agenda. Students on both sides of the motion participated in debate, which closed with a reading of a letter from University President Eric Kaler citing concerns with both resolutions. The motion carried by a margin of three votes. Both resolutions were struck from the agenda, and an anticlimactic moment later the meeting was called to an end.
Today we breathe a sigh of relief knowing the divestiture/deligitimization movement on our campus has been denied even a forum for debate. This is most likely not the end of the issue, however, and we must remain vigilant and proactive. I’m grateful for the pro-Israel students, Hillel, JCRC, and other community leaders on the front lines of this difficult issue. And I’m proud of the many Adath congregants among this broad coalition working with and standing behind our student leaders. Am Israel Chai.
To learn more, read The Minnesota Daily's article MSA declines vote on resolutions.
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