Metro Detroit Jewish Organizations Denounce Passage of Divestment Resolution at University of Michigan

November 15, 2017 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

In the wake of last night’s divestment vote by the University of Michigan’s Central Student Government (CSG), the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC, and ADL Michigan released the following statement:

We condemn the outcome of the CSG vote last night in which the student governing body approved a resolution calling on the University of Michigan to divest from several companies that operate in Israel. The vote, which was conducted by secret ballot, had 23 in favor, 17 against, and 5 abstentions.

We commend the students who worked tirelessly to defeat the resolution despite challenging circumstances. With the support of Hillel at the University of Michigan and its committed staff, along with numerous campus partners, the students were well-prepared and argued against divestment with utmost conviction and dignity. We applaud the students for their hard work and dedication.

At this moment, it is important to clarify the implications of such a resolution. This action by CSG is largely symbolic as it has no bearing on the University and its investment strategy. Since 2002, pro-divestment activists at the University of Michigan have failed 10 times to pass similar resolutions. The passage of the resolution reflects the advocacy of a small and vocal group of students who made this their priority issue. These activists took advantage of conditions on campus favorable to their cause as they conflated divestment with other popular social justice causes. The current CSG is made up of representatives who are more sympathetic to the pro-divestment position than in the past. Additionally, CSG actions during the course of the debate last night impacted the outcome of the debate, including denying U of M History professor Victor Lieberman the opportunity to speak and conducting the vote by secret ballot.

We denounce this resolution as counterproductive to advancing thoughtful and informed dialogue on campus. Furthermore, while we appreciate the statement this morning from the University clarifying its investment strategy, we call upon the University administration to unequivocally repudiate what is a deeply divisive and biased response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The resolution will only sow deeper division between students and it does nothing to advance the peaceful resolution of a conflict thousands of miles away from campus. We are concerned about the impact that it could have on Jewish students on campus who have deep ties to Israel.

The Metro Detroit Jewish community will continue to stand with pro-Israel students as they work to advance productive dialogue at the University of Michigan.

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