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Tufts Student Body Condemns Israel Security Program

Jewish Journal

Aaron Bandler

December 21, 2020

Bendetson Hall at Tufts University (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The student body at Tufts University voted in favor of a referendum on December 19 calling for the university to apologize for having its former police chief participate in a security training program in Israel.

Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) reported that the referendum, which was sponsored by the Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter, asked it students support the university “apologizing for sending the former Tufts police chief to an intensive week-long course led by senior commanders in the Israel National Police, experts from Israel’s intelligence and security services, and the Israeli Defense Force.” The former police chief, Kevin Maguire, had participated in the program in 2017; the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sponsored the program.

The vote was 1,725 (68%) saying yes, 665 (26%) saying no and 161 abstaining.

Jewish groups condemned the vote.

“The referendum campaign intentionally was based on misinformation and innuendo, twisting the very important issue of police reform and using it as an opportunity to contrive facts, vilify Israel and isolate Jewish students on campus,” ADL New England Regional Director Robert Trestan said in a statement to Jewish Insider. “As past participants and chief Maguire have repeatedly stated publicly, the trip bears absolutely no resemblance to military training. The charges are absurd.”

Rena Nasar First, Executive Director of Campus Affairs at StandWithUs, also said in a statement that the pro-Israel education organization is “proud of the students” who stood up to the referendum. However, “it is deeply disappointing and frightening that the voices of Tufts students will now be used to promote classic antisemitic slurs within a campaign of hate focused on Israel and Jews,” she added.

The student group Real Reform at Tufts, which calls for police reform, similarly condemned the passage of the resolution.

“We strongly believe that voting for a referendum based on mistruths that propagates a modern-day antisemitic blood libel will not fix a broken policing system in America or get us closer to racial justice,” Real Reform at Tufts wrote in an Instagram post.

Tufts SJP, on the other hand, celebrated the resolution’s passage.

“In this vote, the student body also declared itself united in opposition to the university’s normalization of the violence of the Israeli occupation and enabling of Israeli profiteering from its oppression of Palestinians,” they wrote in a Facebook post.

The student newspaper Tufts Daily reported that the Elections Commission of the Tufts Community Union (ECOM) concluded that the resolution violated the university’s election regulations because it wasn’t “made public at least nine days before the election” and “did not have a receipt date with the Elections Commission at least seven days before the vote.” However, ECOM concluded that the result will still stand because the violations weren’t “significant enough,” and that SJP wasn’t responsible for the violations.

Patrick Collins, Executive Director for Public Communications at Tufts, said in a statement to Jewish Insider that the university won’t be apologizing, calling the resolution “misinformed.”

Read the article here.


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