Sunday, April 23, 2017

BDS advocates again prove that they can't win on a level playing field

By most accounts, 2017 has been a bad year for BDS

From Jonathan Marks, writing at Commentary

... the campus BDS movement this year, until recently, had notched wins solely at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, which has been passing divestment resolutions with wearying regularity since 2004, and the University of California-Riverside, where a symbolic and ineffectual blow against Sabra Hummus was struck. Meanwhile, BDS  activists lost at Ohio State (for a third time), University of Illinois-Urbana, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Columbia University.

But recently, two universities Student Councils, in an effort to push through resolutions when the Jewish students were otherwise occupied chose to have their votes during Passover week. Tufts University announced the vote 4 days in advance, and scheduled it for the day before Passover. Pitzer College held their vote during Passover, with no advance notice.

They resorted to underhanded tactics because they knew they could not win on a level playing field. They resorted to underhanded tactics because they wanted to silence opposition. They resorted to underhanded tactics to insure that their voices alone were heard.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League recently accepted an honor from Tufts, and took his alma mater to task for the vote, writing 

I find the BDS resolution passed by the TCU Senate deeply disturbing from all of my personal perspectives: as an alumnus who cares about Tufts; as a nonprofit executive who cares about justice and fair treatment; and as a Jew who cares about the fate of his people....

This vote intentionally was timed right before Passover in order to reduce the ability of all the interested Jewish students from participating in the debate. This meant that a number of individuals were forced to choose between practicing their faith and defending their people. This was a shameful tactic designed to silence the voices of Jewish students and the pro-Israel community at Tufts.

The university administration of Tufts issued a bland critique of  the resolution, saying

We have made clear in the past our opposition to calls to boycott Israeli academic institutions.  While members of our community vigorously debate international politics, Tufts University does not adopt institutional positions with respect to specific geo-political issues.

Ever immune to criticism, the  Students for Justice in Palestine, and their fan-boys at the Electronic Intifada nonetheless declared victory.

Jonathan Greenblatt concludes, with an appeal to Tufts for concrete action to address this incident, and insure that it never happens again:

I appeal to you to organize a task force that convenes alumni and administrators to review how this transpired and recommend steps to ensure it is not repeated.

And I advocate that you consider introducing a code of ethics — call it acovenant of active citizenship — for student leaders, one that demands ethical behavior, that upholds democratic processes and that creates accountability for those who fall short of these basic standards.

Now, I realize that it may seem odd for an alumnus to criticize his alma mater on the very day when I am receiving an honor from this institution.

But, from what I learned at Tufts, this is exactly what you taught me to do.

To take responsibility. To speak out. To defend free speech. To demand fair play. To make arguments respectfully and forcefully but also factually and rationally. And to defend and support the university that I so deeply love.

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