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|Roz Rothstein||May 24th 2014|
We applaud the pro-Israel students at DePaul University for standing up to the bigotry and bullying of Students for Justice in Palestine [SJP] who organized a school-wide referendum to divest from companies associated with Israel. Because of pro-Israel students’ courage and hard work, the referendum passed by only a slim margin, with only around 10% of the total student body voting. "The close results of the vote show that the #DePaulDivest campaign is divisive, and a large number of students saw through its hypocrisy and double standards. DePaul SJP launched a referendum because they were afraid to debate the issue on its merits in the student senate, and instead resorted to street theater, lies, and intimidation of their opponents. SJP had little respect for the democratic process, and employed many extreme tactics, including campaigning in classrooms, libraries, dormitories, blocking entrances to campus buildings, and putting on raucous demonstrations. Some students have also filed official complaints regarding campaign violations by SJP. In many cases SJP’s aggressive actions backfired and alienated students, as we have seen happen at other universities,” said Brett Cohen, StandWithUs National Campus Program Director who worked with pro-Israel DePaul students.
The referendum could not accurately reflect student opinion because it presented allegations against Israel as settled facts when they are actually false or contested claims. Therefore, the language inherently suggested a particular answer instead of presenting the issue impartially. We have seen divestment create this toxic campus environment wherever it rears its ugly head, as it has on several American campuses. Divestment advocates bring lies about Israel to campus, and display extreme ignorance about the complexities of the Middle East conflict, about Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas, about the anti-Semitic incitement in Palestinian society, and about Israel’s repeated efforts to make peace. This movement singles out Israel and targets and intimidates pro-Israel and Jewish students, and resonates with anti-Semitism. We hope that DePaul and other school administrations will educate their students about how to understand and discuss complex issues like the Israel-Palestine conflict, that they ensure that pro-Israel and Jewish students can feel safe on campus, and that they restore the informed debate that should be a hallmark of universities.
Roz Rothstein is CEO of StandWithUS.