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UW Madison divestment resolution targets companies that aid the fight against ISIS, promotes hateful conspiracy theory about Israelis, April 26th, 2017

FOR IMEDIATE RELEASE

April 27, 2017

 

UW Madison divestment resolution targets companies that aid the fight against ISIS, promotes hateful conspiracy theory about Israelis, April 26th, 2017

(Madison, WI, April 27, 2017) -- StandWithUs strongly condemns the Associated Students of Madison (ASM) at the University of Wisconsin for passing a divestment resolution containing a hateful conspiracy theory about Israelis. The vote took place on April 26th, 2017 and was passed unanimously with, 24 in favor, 0 against and 2 abstentions. Immediately afterwards, the university released a statement rejecting the resolution and raising concerns about ASM's lack of transparency, undemocratic actions, and targeting of Jewish students. The statement also said that, “the actions taken tonight appear to violate a ruling of the Student Judiciary”.

A similar resolution was tabled indefinitely on March 29th. After negotiations between Jewish student leaders and the original authors, new legislation was written to target unethical corporations in more general terms, without attacking Israel. Unfortunately ASM members broke their agreement with the Jewish community, amending the resolution at the last minute with extremely problematic language.

While the resolution addresses a number of serious injustices facing Black, Latino, and indigenous communities in the United States, it also contains deeply disturbing rhetoric regarding other issues. It targets a number of companies for divestment partly because their equipment has been used by the U.S. military in Syria, where American forces have been engaged in the fight against ISIS since 2014. The resolution also blames Israelis for police violence against Black people in America, echoing a dark history of racism in which Jews were used as scapegoats for injustices they had little or nothing to do with. 

There are exchange programs in which a small number of senior American police officials travel to Israel, but they go to learn about counter-terrorism, not community policing or crowd control. Unfortunately, instead of considering facts and logic, ASM chose to repeat a baseless conspiracy theory designed to demonize and dehumanize Israelis.

The debate about the resolution also featured numerous examples of hateful rhetoric. Anti-Israel activists demonized the Jewish community as “oppressors” and dismissed their legitimate concerns, claiming that the real reason Jewish students oppose divestment against Israel is that it threatens their “white privilege”. Never mind the fact that divestment is part of a larger campaign to strip away Jewish rights to self-determination, and that Jews of all colors have always been hated by white supremacists. According to a statement by UW Hillel, a Jewish member of ASM was also publicly targeted and harassed by other members of ASM.

“As a former student body president, I am shocked that ASM would actively exclude any of their constituents from the democratic process. As a Latino, I find it extremely offensive that anti-Israel activists are exploiting my people's struggle in order to legitimize their campaign of hate,” said StandWithUs Midwest Campus Coordinator Sebastian Parra.

StandWithUs commends students who organized through Badgers United Against Hate and worked relentlessly against this vile campaign. We look forward to working with ICC, Hillel, JUF, and our other partners on empowering students to tell Israel's story and overcome hate.

 

About StandWithUs

StandWithUs (SWU) is a fifteen year-old, international, non-profit Israel education organization.  Through fellowships, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their campuses and communities about Israel. 

Based in Los Angeles, SWU has 18 chapters throughout the United States including the Midwest, in Israel, Canada and the U.K.

www.standwithus.com and https://facebook.com/standwithus and  https://twitter.com/standwithus



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