After student gov’t calls for Israel divestment, U of Illinois affirms pro-Israel students

The University of Illinois student government passed a resolution that combined divestment from Israel with support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The university condemned the statement and asserted the rights of Jewish students.

University of Illinois administrators affirmed the rights of Jewish students after the school’s student government passed a resolution that incorporated divestment from Israel with support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

In September, the student government affirmed the resolution in a 22-11 vote with seven abstentions. The University of Illinois’s Office of Student Affairs immediately released a statement co-signed by Chancellor Robert Jones in response, calling it “unfortunate” that the resolution “was designed to force students who oppose efforts to divest from Israel to also vote against support for the Black Lives Matter movement.”

In November, the Department of Education began investigating a complaint submitted on behalf of the university’s Jewish students, which asserts that the school has allowed an anti-Semitic environment to proliferate unabated.

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The complaint “outlines how Jewish and pro-Israel UIUC students have been subjected to an alarming increase in anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism over the past five years,” explains a press release from the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. “It details how numerous swastikas have been found on UIUC’s campus, Jewish ritual items such as menorahs and mezuzahs have been vandalized, and windows of Jewish fraternity houses have been smashed by bricks.”

The complaint also alleges harassment of Jewish and pro-Israel students from campus groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine. Following the announcement of the investigation, the University of Illinois released another statement affirming its commitment to fighting anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitic acts and expressions are all too common in our country and in our world, and examples of that intolerance have occurred at this university as well,” said the statement. “This is unacceptable. While the university has taken measures in the past to address this problem, the university must do more.”

Declaring that “all Jewish students, including those who identify with Israel or Jewish campus organizations, should be able to participate in campus activities aimed at fighting racism and achieving social justice,” the university announced the creation of an Advisory Council on Jewish and Campus Life that will uphold the Jewish community on campus.

According to Hillel International, 3,000 undergraduates at the University of Illinois — 9 percent of the student population — are Jewish. Roughly 1,000 of the school’s graduate students are also Jewish.

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In February 2020, the student government passed a resolution supporting the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” movement — which encourages institutions to avoid doing business with companies that support the State of Israel — with a 20-9 vote margin, again with seven abstentions.

Student government president Connor Josellis vetoed the resolution.

Campus Reform reached out to the University of Illinois for comment and will update this article accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Arik_Schneider