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May 02, 2003 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-02

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Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:

Dry Bones

Responding To Anti-Zionism

n the second night of Passover, while Jews
were saying "Next Year in Jerusalem," the
ayne State University Student Council
approved a resolution designed to demonize
and de-legitimize the State of Israel and its supporters.
The resolution calls for the university to divest from
all companies and funds that do business in Israel.
The one-sided nature of the Students Movement for
Justice-sponsored resolution, which passed the stu-
dent council 9-7, is clear from the opening statement,
which speaks of "grave misgivings about financing
violent ethnic cleansing, racially directed against mil-
lions of occupied Palestinian civilians, who are both
innocent and helpless."
Worse than the failure to mention the ter-
rorism and murder of Israelis and Jews by
"innocent and helpless" militants — or the
failure to clamor for lasting peace — the
resolution resounds with lies. It not only forces the
WSU board and administration to be politically
defensive, but also could make the university less
inviting to Jewish students and faculty despite a long
and rich legacy of support from the Jewish communi-
Just after the April 17 vote, a student told the coun-
cil, "You have just made this campus unsafe for Jews"
— an extreme view but reason enough for Wayne
leaders to speak up and decisively nullify the resolu-
On the front line are Jewish and pro-Israel students.
Though they have stepped up their education and
advocacy activities this past year, they were effectively
marginalized by the council's holding the vote during
Passover. When these students asked the council to
reschedule the vote, they were refused.
So they asked a non-Jewish student to argue the
issue on financial and practical grounds, rather than
confronting the morality and legitimacy of charging
Israel with what amount to war crimes. Given the
"facts" about Israel that were presented without rebut-


A NM- FR C+1

tal, it is not hard to see why the resolu-
tion passed.
Since the resolution is going to the
Board of Governors, the next player is
President Irvin D. Reid. He came out
against divestment last year, arguing that
Wayne State should not base financial
decisions on political concerns and that
divestment would not bring the Middle
East any closer to peace.
Anti-Israel groups have already laid the
groundwork to test the resolve of the
Board of Governors and the Jewish corn-
rimnity. Should President Reid defend
1 :7 CAN'T BE
Israel and denounce the resolu-
tion's tone and content, anti-
Israel groups would say he's
caving to the influential Jewish
community against the interests of stu-
dents and of "justice." Should he sidestep
the core issue to discuss process, they will
say no one argued the resolution's merit,
only its practicality.
While thoughtful people may wonder
how the student council can claim to
speak for 18,000 undergraduate students
when their top vote-getter barely got 400
votes, President Reid must respect the
process and the students' right to present
core issue is the calumny against Israel and its sup-
their position. But he also should reinforce his oppo-
porters by a recognized student leadership group —
sition to divestment and denounce the resolution.
something the larger Wayne community of students,
In denouncing the "Divest from Israel" campaign
faculty and administration must formally distance
last September, Harvard University President
themselves from.
Lawrence Summers, said, "We should always respect
There's a moral compass to be reckoned with.
the academic freedom of everyone to take any posi-
President Reid and the Board of Governors have no
tion. We should also recall that academic freedom
choice but to repudiate the student council resolution
does not include freedom from criticism. The only
and assure that the Detroit campus remains a safe,
antidote to dangerous ideas is strong alternatives vig-
engaging place for Jewish and pro-Israel students to
orously advocated."
learn. DI
More than divestment or community relations, the

Sagi 61\5T



Proofs Of Peace

efore America and its coalition invaded Iraq,
the Bush administration argued that if
addam Hussein truly meant to cooperate
with the arms inspectors, he would have
shown it plainly by his actions.
He could have easily, the officials said, made public
records of how Iraq had destroyed chemical
and biological agents that can be used for
weapons; he could have encouraged his sci-
entists to talk to the United Nations arms
inspectors; and he could have given the inspectors
unfettered access to a wide variety of sites, including
the presidential palaces.
That it did none of these things, the arguments
went, proved the Hussein regime was not serious
about stopping its programs to produce weapons that
terrorists like.
Israel and its supporters face much the same issue in



trying to assess Palestinian intentions toward compli-
ance with even the first step of the "road map" to
peace that the United States, Russia, the United
Nations and the European Union have drafted. The
indications so far don't exactly give reason for cheer.
It is true that Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israelis
have lessened in number, but innocent people are still
dying. On Wednesday, three Israelis were killed and
55 people were injured when a suicide bomber
exploded outside a music pub next to the
U. S. embassy on Tel Aviv's seafront prome-
nade. The dropoff in attacks is at least as
much the result of the Israeli military pres-
ence around West Bank and Gaza terrorist strong-
holds as it is any reflection of a top-down Palestinian
change of heart on the utility of those attacks.
Polls say large numbers of Palestinians still support
suicide bombing and other acts of terror and, disap-
pointingly, they say they would never turn over their
own weapons to a national Palestinian militia because
they do not believe that Israel is serious about negotia-



tions. It is not hard to understand why they feel that
way. Yasser Arafat has done nothing to prepare his cit-
izens for peace. His Palestinian Authority ritually
deplores terror attacks but has neither arrested nor dis-
armed the ringleaders.
Further, Arafat fought against a meaningfully inde-
pendent prime minister, balking most strongly when
that official, Mahmoud Abbas, proposed that the new
security chief be Muhammad Dahlan, a man whom
both Israel and the United States say might be expect-
ed to crack down on Hamas and other terrorists.
The appointment of Abbas was certainly a step in
the right direction. Before the Quartet of powers
pushes its road map and makes new demands that
could endanger Israeli security, they should see more
convincing proof that the Palestinians are serious
about curbing terrorism and seeking a lasting, stable
relationship that protects Israel's right to exist.
The onus must remain on the Palestinians to act as
if they really want peace. As with Iraq and the unla-
mented Hussein, we'll know it when they show it. ❑

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