JERUSALEM, Israel – The president of the University of Illinois Student Government (ISG) on Sunday shot down a resolution supporting the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) resolution, to the relief of many Jewish organizations on campus.
Last week, the student senate passed Resolution 03.61, which calls on the university to divest from three leading defense and security companies that supply weapons to Israel, China, Brazil, Chile, and Honduras.
What is the BDS movement?
Although the university said it had “no plans to act” on the resolution, ISG president Connor Josellis vetoed it during his cabinet meeting on Sunday, saying student remarks surrounding Israel “have made students feel unsafe and fostered a climate of hate on this campus.”
“One of my primary obligations as student body president is to make sure that all students are able to participate in a campus environment where all feel safe to learn and be themselves,” Josellis said, according to The Daily Illini. “Approving a resolution that hundreds of students have said will do the opposite would not be doing my job.”
Jewish and pro-Israel groups on campus issued a statement accusing BDS supporters of anti-Semitism, specifically when one pro-BDS student held up a sign comparing Israel to Nazis.
During public comments, Nina Raab, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, confronted anti-Israel students about the sign.
“They called us Nazis!” Raab said.
“They’re right!” one student in the audience responded.
The clip of the confrontation has nearly 10,00 views online:
OFFICIAL STATEMENT:Dear Friends, On the evening of February 12, 2020, the Illinois Student Government (ISG) passed Resolution 03.61 “Violations of Human Rights in University Investments”. During the public comment portion, one of our students, who is the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, spoke about her experiences as a Jewish student on this campus and referenced a poster she saw this Fall saying "Fuck Nazis, Support Palestinians.” Essentially, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP UIUC) called her, and other members of the Jewish community, Nazis. When our student described being called a Nazi to the student government, a student sitting with the writers of this resolution and with SJP responded, “damn right!” and was applauded by several members of the audience, SJP, and members of ISG. The divisive atmosphere bolstered by this resolution legitimized this hateful remark and exposed the malicious and despicable hatred towards Jewish students by the supporters of SJP and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. We call on SJP and ISG to release a statement condemning and disavowing this student and the comment that he made. Despite our disagreements, we hope that we can all come together to denounce this disgusting and vile behavior that is unwelcome on our campus. This act of hatred is unacceptable and is in opposition to everything our university stands for. Now is the time to speak up against anti-semitism.Sincerely, Illini Students Supporting Israel, Illini Public Affairs Committee – IlliniPACIllini Chabad, Illini Hillel at Cohen Center For Jewish Life, JET UIUC
Posted by Illini Students Supporting Israel on Friday, February 14, 2020
“The divisive atmosphere bolstered by this resolution legitimized this hateful remark and exposed the malicious and despicable hatred towards Jewish students by the supporters of (Students for Justice in Palestine) SJP and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement,” Jewish and pro-Israel groups said in a statement.
SJP issued an apology on its Facebook page, saying “we reject the comment, as it antithetical to our values as SJP.”
The group also condemned Josellis for vetoing BDS, saying “criticisms of Israel simply do not amount to an unsafe campus climate.”