(March 8, 2019 / JNS) The student government at Swarthmore College passed a resolution in a closed meeting earlier this week introduced by the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter, calling on the college and its board members to separate its interests in Israel, including Boeing.
The Algemeiner first reported this development on Thursday night.
The measure passed almost a few weeks after it failed to cross the finish line, causing members from SJP and the school’s Jewish Voice for Peace chapter to protest at a Feb. 24 meeting, when the two groups and “concerned students and allies formed a chain of solidarity, linking arms and standing” when Swarthmore Students for Israel (SSI) presented its stance on the BDS measure, reported the student-run daily Voices.
“Not in any way a measure taken against the existence of the State of Israel,” said the school’s JVP club in an e-mail. “This vote only condemns the human-rights violations occurring in Palestine due to the Israeli occupation.”
Following the vote, student government president Gilbert Orbea sent an email to Swarthmore president Valerie Smith and the board of managers, stating that the vote was “not a repudiation of the Jewish faith or of our fellow Jewish and Israeli students.”
The board of managers did not respond to a request for comment.
SSI president Matthew Stein, a junior, told The Algemeiner that the content on two public Twitter pages likely motivated the student government to pass the resolution.
One account, Radical Alert, shared right-wing messages and labeled student government representatives as anti-Semitic.
Another, Stop Hate At Swarthmore, tagged SJP followers and student government members, rebuking them for their “hateful” conduct.
SSI separated itself from the accounts and denied any connection to them and condemned the pages.
SSI, StandWithUs and the AMCHA Initiative slammed the resolution’s passage.
Stein told JNS that his club “is dismayed that our student government decided to cave to pressure from SJP, whose members nationally and on campus repeatedly traffic in anti-Semitism.”
“The statement given by the student government also ridiculously listed JVP as a vital resource for their belief that the resolution is not a ‘repudiation … of Jewish students’ given that JVP represents a tiny radical minority of the Jewish community and openly rejects Israel as a Jewish state,” he continued. “Just today, our campus JVP chapter vociferously defended Ilhan Omar from criticism over her grossly anti-Semitic tweets. We are disheartened because all of this will only serve to drive more Jewish students who support Israel away from this campus.”
“It is disappointing that the [student government] gave in to a campaign of hate, which only serves to harm students and fuel conflict between Israelis and Palestinians,” Max Samarov, SWU executive director of research and strategy, told JNS. “We are proud of Swarthmore students who stood up for justice and truth in the face of this hostility, and will continue to support them however we can.”
“BDS is anti-Semitic, plain and simple. It calls for the end of Israel as a Jewish state,” AMCHA Initiative director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin told JNS. “While these resolutions pose as a statement in support of human rights, the truth is that they are designed and intended to divide the campus community.”
“Time and again, we see that these votes only serve to shut down the debate that is so critical to a real resolution, and only inject divisiveness and hatred onto campus,” she continued. “Our research shows that BDS activities are at the heart of the rise in anti-Semitism on campuses nationwide, and are often accompanied by harassment, discrimination, destruction of property and even assaults directed against Jewish students.”
“In fact, anti-Semitism is three times more likely to occur on campuses where BDS is present,” she added. “Instead of passing intolerant, hate-promoting resolutions, the student government should work towards bringing students together in a respectful and civil manner to discuss issues like this in a constructive fashion.”