‘Political play’: Left-wing US school board calls for Gaza ceasefire

‘A political play’ – Jewish federation slams Ann Arbor’s foray into Mideast politics.

Susan Tawil, World Israel News

The school board of Ann Arbor, Michigan, the home of the University of Michigan (U of M) and a bastion of Midwest liberalism, adopted an anti-Israel resolution last week calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and increased humanitarian aid for the residents of Gaza.

The non-binding resolution was passed by the seven-member board by a vote of four in favor, with two abstentions and one against. This came after a month of debate, and a five-hour meeting on January 17, lasting past midnight. Over 120 constituents signed up for public comment.

Palestinian school board member Rima Mohammad was the most outspoken promoting the declaration, which also encouraged Ann Arbor teachers to discuss the conflict in their classes.

Some parents of the 17,000 student school district, however, objected to the resolution.

Parent Daniel Sorkin said: “This resolution does not help advance the quality of (education for) one single child in this district.”

Others called upon to comment similarly lamented the district’s waste of time and resources to promote a political agenda that had nothing to do with their children’s education, and which they felt was not the province of the school board.

“It’s a political play,” said Eileen Freed, head of Ann Arbor’s Jewish Federation, adding that the discussion “created a hostile atmosphere” in the district.

Another Jewish parent concurred, saying he feared for his child’s safety in school and that his family was planning to move elsewhere.

Marla Linderman Richelew, a former high school PTA president, said that her daughter had been the victim of anti-Semitic bullying in the Ann Arbor district.

“This is not helpful to anyone,” she said of the resolution.

A similar enactment was passed by the Ann Arbor City Council last week, called: “Denouncing Rising Hate and Discrimination in Ann Arbor and Calling for a Lasting Bilateral Ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.”

At the University of Michigan, President Santa Ono in November barred students from voting on two anti-Israel resolutions, one of which requested the university to designate the “violence inflicted upon Gaza by Israel” as genocide, the other asking the school to “investigate the ethics of its investments and funds that feed the university’s endowment,” asking U of M to join the BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) movement against doing business with Israel.

President Ono called the resolutions “controversial and divisive,” posting that they “have done more to stoke fear, anger and animosity on our campus…” U of M’s student body of over 52,000 has a Jewish enrollment of some 6,500 (over 12%), but the smaller Muslim student population is very vocal and activist, via the campus chapter of SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine).

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The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) responded to Ono’s ban, accusing the university of suppressing free speech. Pro-Palestinian students held a protest on campus, ending with a sit-in at Ono’s office, during which 40 participants were arrested.

The state of Michigan hosts the largest Muslim community in the United States, in the Detroit suburbs of Dearborn and Hamtramck, about 40 minutes from Ann Arbor. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, is one of Michigan’s State Representatives, a member of the leftist, anti-Israel “Squad” in Congress.