March 8, 2016
Minneapolis, MN — Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), Benjie Kaplan, executive director of Minnesota Hillel, and Sami Rahamim, acting president of Minnesota Hillel, issued the following statement following the University of Minnesota Student Association's divestment decision Tuesday:
"This evening, the Minnesota Student Association (MSA) voted to strike a resolution that would have called upon the University of Minnesota to divest from companies that do business in Israel. This vote most likely removed the divestment issue from the MSA agenda for the year.
"MSA members wisely voted to reject divestment and end a process that student Senators said at the Forum marginalized members of the campus community and made students feel unsafe. MSA members decided that student government was not the proper venue to adjudicate the Middle East conflict and to focus instead on issues that are central to campus life. We applaud the MSA for not allowing UMN student government to be used to hold one country and one community to a double standard.
"We are extremely proud of the students at Minnesota Hillel, Students Supporting Israel, and the entire UMN United community for their tireless work on these measures. Pro-Israel students showed extraordinary resolve in fighting for the moral and intellectual integrity of the university since this measure was introduced. They rallied an impressive campaign to urge their peers to vote against the divestment resolution. Students effectively engaged with campus allies, met with faculty and university administrators, and educated MSA members about the issue.
"We are also extremely grateful to University President Eric Kaler for his strong message against the BDS resolution Tuesday and for the strong support from a bipartisan coalition of 80 state legislators. Notably, President Kaler's statement was cited by several students who favored the vote to strike.
"The JCRC and Minnesota Hillel, as well as our campus and community partners, will not allow divisive campaigns to tear apart our campus community or to isolate Jewish students because of their religious or ethnic identities, or because they support the Jewish State of Israel.
"The JCRC and Minnesota Hillel will continue to work with students to create a community that supports peace and honest dialogue and that works to make our campus, our community, and our Jewish homeland safer and more peaceful. And the pro-Israel community of Minnesota remains committed to being part of the solution.
"The JCRC and Minnesota Hillel also thank the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul, the Minnesota Rabbinical Association, and the Israel Center of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation for their tremendous leadership on this issue."
As the public affairs voice of the Jewish community, the JCRC fights anti-Semitism and prejudice, advocates for Israel, provides Holocaust education, promotes tolerance and social justice, and builds bridges across the Jewish and broader communities.