Jewish group at University of Maryland laments ‘insensitive’ plan for BDS vote on Passover

“The timing of this resolution is particularly insensitive given that many Jewish students will be away from campus this weekend for Passover,” said Elan Burman of Maryland Hillel.

By Shiri Moshe, The Algemeiner

A resolution supporting the controversial boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel will be considered by student leaders at the University of Maryland next week, as Jewish students celebrate Passover, the campus Hillel said.

In a Wednesday email to community members, Maryland Hillel staff member Elan Burman said the bill was submitted to UMD’s Student Government Association (SGA) and will be brought to a vote on April 24.

“The timing of this resolution is particularly insensitive given that many Jewish students will be away from campus this weekend for Passover and will be celebrating the intermediary days of the holiday when the vote takes place,” noted Burman, whose group is campaigning against divestment.

The bill — backed by groups including Students for Justice in Palestine under the auspices of the Divest UMD campaign — “calls upon the UMCP administration to divest from companies engaged in human rights violations in Palestine.”

Supporters include the UMD Pride Alliance, UMD Young Democratic Socialists of America, and African Student Association, among others.

“Zionism is terrorism,” the UMD Muslim Alliance for Social Change wrote in a solidarity statement shared by UMD Divest, in reference to a movement that champions the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in the Levant.

“This is a battle against Zionism, a movement that does not define our Jewish brothers and sisters, but instead characterizes those who lack a sense of humanity and withhold an abnormal level of nationalism for Israel,” the statement continued.

Opponents of the campaign — which last failed to gain SGA endorsement in 2017 — argue that it delegitimizes, demonizes, and applies a double standard to Israel.

A petition promoted by the Terps United Against BDS coalition noted that “BDS campaigns can create a hostile campus atmosphere that singles out Jewish and pro-Israel students, and subjects them to intimidation and bullying.”

“We know that BDS fosters an environment that can lead to anti-Semitism that immediately stifles conversation among campus stakeholders,” the petition read.

It also pointed to long-standing concerns that the BDS campaign supports Palestinian rights while opposing Israel’s existence, thereby diminishing “the chance of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

UMD Divest and the SGA did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner‘s requests for comment.

BDS supporters on multiple campuses have in the past drawn condemnation for introducing divestment resolutions during or immediately before Jewish holidays, when many members of the Jewish community are either off-campus or engaged in religious observance.

After a BDS resolution passed at Tufts University days before Passover in 2017, a time when the local Hillel said many Jewish students were away, an activist with the Israel education and advocacy group StandWithUs described the “undemocratic” tactic as an attempt to silence Zionist student voices.