A bill calling for divesting from companies that conduct business with Israel failed during the University of Maryland’s student government meeting on April 24. Twenty-five were against and nine were in favor, with two abstentions.
The Diamondback, the university’s student-run newspaper, reported that 74 students spoke out against the bill and 55 spoke out in favor during the Student Government Association (SGA) meeting. One student arguing against the bill said it would foment an “unsafe” environment on campus and “shut down dialogue”; one of the bill’s sponsors, SGA journalism representative Sarah Elbeshbishi, said it was necessary “to stand up against [Israel’s] human rights violations.”
Terps for Israel, a pro-Israel student group on campus, said in a Facebook post shortly after the vote, “Thank you to all the students that came to the meeting tonight to voice their concerns against this bill. Also, thank you to all the SGA legislators who took the time to hear from their concerned constituents, as well as take time to continue to educate themselves on these issues. We look forward to keeping these nuanced conversations going with the greater UMD community.”
Maryland Hillel similarly wrote in a Facebook post that they were “incredibly relieved” by the outcome of the vote.
“Our students worked tirelessly on bringing together the community, writing speeches, and running educational programs,” Maryland Hillel’s post read. “We are proud of the sophistication and dignity with which they confronted this anti-Israel bill. Their leadership, first and foremost, is the reason we achieved a favorable result. They deserve our gratitude.”
UMD Divest, who spearheaded the effort behind the bill, wrote in an April 25 Facebook post that while the bill failed, they took solace in the “progress that our campaign made as we were able to educate countless students on our campus about Palestinian human rights and the Israeli Occupation.”
“We are confident that we are getting closer and closer to passing divestment and in the coming semesters our University will join Brown, UCLA, Northwestern, and many other colleges in supporting human rights,” UMD Divest’s post stated.
More than 2,000 students, alumni and faculty members had signed a petition started by Terps for Israel opposing the bill. A similar bill also failed in 2018. The SGA has been under fire for scheduling the vote during Passover.
“We are very proud of the students at UMD who once again stood up against this campaign of hatred and propaganda,” Rena Nasar, managing director of Campus Affairs at StandWithUs, said in a statement. “BDS has no place on campus and has only served to divide students and damage efforts to bring Israelis and Palestinians together.”
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