On Sunday night, May 4th, a resolution was brought to the WSA entitled: “Wesleyan Divestment From Companies Profiting from or Contributing to Illegal Occupation of Palestine.” As Wesleyan students and Israel supporters who voiced our opinions against the resolution, we felt marginalized and targeted for our beliefs. The room was full of incredible hostility, despite the efforts of WSA members to keep it civil. As the vocal minority in the meeting, we were shushed and openly mocked. This atmosphere of disrespect is not at all conducive to open dialogue, and is oppressive to anyone who does not hold the majority view. This should not be acceptable at Wesleyan. Instead, we should promote productive and meaningful discussion that leads to real solutions, not campus polarization.

In addition to the hostile campus climate that it has created and continues to perpetuate, we also feel that this resolution fails to accomplish its alleged goals. One of the clauses of the resolution states that it aims to “stand against any and all injustices.” While this is obviously an admirable goal, we believe that this resolution, if it has any tangible effects, perpetuates human rights abuses. It directly harms the security of both Palestinians and Israelis by targeting companies that provide equipment and assistance to their security forces. This hurts the lives of real people.

However, due to the unfeasibility and complete unlikelihood that the university will divest its endowment as the resolution suggests, this decision is merely symbolic. It serves only to associate Wesleyan with the BDS movement, whose leaders openly call for the destruction of the State of Israel. Although in the meeting, sponsors of the resolution stated that it was not associated with BDS, they clearly invoke the BDS movement in a WeSpeak published last week by citing and using the language of the official BDS website. Furthermore, we proposed an amendment condemning the official BDS movement in order to make the resolution more representative of the student body. This was rejected by the resolution’s sponsors, demonstrating its inherent ties to BDS.

As soon as the result of the vote was revealed, many of the students in support of the resolution erupted in cheers, continuing to loudly celebrate outside the room. Due to previous instances of harassment and the antagonistic actions of many in the meeting, we did not feel comfortable leaving until the crowd had dissipated. Members of the WSA offered to escort us out of the building and even call a Public Safety officer to ease our discomfort and ensure our safety. Although we did not feel the need to take them up on this offer, they clearly recognized the intimidation that pervaded the meeting. No student on this campus should be made to feel unsafe for his or her beliefs. This resolution is damaging to the campus climate and to the people it purports to help.

Markell is a member of the class of 2014; Fraiman is a member of the class of 2015; Viterbi is a member of the class of 2017.

  • For real?

    This stuff is pretty ridiculous. Does the Argus factcheck these things?

    • FriendofGus

      It’s a wespeak, so explicitly no, basically unedited opinion section.

  • Michael

    Complaining that loud celebration causes them discomfort while supporting the military occupation of millions of people. Good thing this attitude is a minority.

  • Gabriel

    The fact that you felt unsafe and intimidated is wrong, and we owe it to you (as we do to everyone) to make sure that all feel safe to take part in our debates.

    However, that doesn’t absolve all of you of a responsibility to address the issue at hand. You claim that the BDS movement (and this resolution) do nothing to help end the conflict and end the occupation. Fair enough. What is your alternative? What is your alternative method for solving this problem? You make no mention of the two-state solution, which I assume (because I certainly hope you don’t believe that Israel should annex the West Bank) that you support. This is an abdication to propose a serious alternative solution to a real crisis of human suffering. Without a recommendation like that, this piece reads as an attempt to use your discomfort to distract from your resistance to any kind of policy prescription to this ongoing conflict.

    • JLD

      You refer to a solution, and suggest a two state outcome. But the charter of Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel. So where is their two state solution?
      I think a problem in both sides arguments is a competition for the role of the most righteous victim. Israel occuppies Gaza and the West Bank, and the Palestinians want to destroy Israel. Unfortunately I think it’s going to take more killing before both sides finally agree there’s been enough. We’ve reached a half way point to that now. When the people who want peace are able to throw out the people who don’t there may be change. Is divestment a step on that path? Maybe it is. But let’s allow the doubters some respect for their caution about it.

      I’m an alum, under different initials, of the class ’77.

  • anti-zionist jew

    It’s really unbelievable how unwilling the authors are to take a look in the mirror. If you felt threatened, just imagine how the WSA meeting must have felt to a jew who supports BDS. You and your allies condemned all of us through guilt by association, and tried to censure the BDS movement which has very strong supporters on campus. Imagine how you’d feel if a zionist group was censured. Just think for a second how your McCarthyesque amendment against BDS is both “marginalizing” and “targeting”? Imagine how disrespected we felt when you suggest we are supporting a terrorist group?

    In most places in the country, zionism has incredibly strong allies. SJP has been banned from some college campuses. And as soon as this overwhelming and unwavering support for the Israeli government no matter what they do is questioned you start acting like a marginalized group.

    BDS is a large movement. Just like in any large group, it’s got crazy objectionable people in it. But just because some Likud supporters or even have been racist doesn’t mean Likud is racist. Just because there are Israelis committing human rights abuses that doesn’t necessarily mean the Israeli people should be categorically dismissed as a inhumane group of people.

    Shame on you and your fear and hate mongering. At the WSA and even in this wespeaks, you refuse to engage on the actual issue. Individual disagreeable BDS member statements, a group of activists cheering, tangential instances of anti-semitism: none of this has to do with the content of what was passed on Sunday. Let’s talk about that resolution instead.

  • InL_A

    Rashid Khalidi: “If you don’t want the Palestinians to use violence and you won’t approve of their using things like BDS, are you saying that they must remain on their knees for the rest of eternity?”

    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/04/khalidi-palestinians-europe.html

  • Ross Levin

    This video is great, in response to people feeling “oppressed” by opposition to colonialism and racism:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvg4LknKsZ0

  • Reader20

    Credit to you for having the self-confidence to stand up for your convictions.

    • applesapplesapples

      Yes, credit to you guys for the ingenuity of finding a way to oppose divesting from human rights abuses just because the people advocating them are you “enemy”

      • Reader20

        Your kind of advocacy only goes toward proving the authors’ point. Please keep it up.

    • peace seeker

      Authors,

      Stand proud that you had the courage to stand up and voice
      your opinion and stand by your belief.

      Wesleyan university should be a place where freedom of speech
      and debate should take place not through hostility and intimidation but through
      true dialogue to listen and learn from each other’s arguments.

      To all other students,

      Ask yourself why the same standards the students voted for don’t
      apply to other companies in countries such as :

      Russia occupation of Ukrain

      Countries who promote abuses towards women, Discrimination
      against gays, and lack of freedom of speech like in Iran, Saudia Arabia and many other middle eastern and African countries.

      Syria massacre of their own citizens, and many more.

      Also ask yourself how nonsensical this decision is, as many
      of the computer chips, technology used, software you all use on a regular
      basis originated and also invented in Israel.

      What this resolution does if anything is to deprive the livelihood
      from the same people you are trying to help.

      Stop the hate and promote dialogue – it will go a farther
      and be less destructive to all

  • Realist

    Way to stand up for your beliefs and support the country with the greatest human rights and freedoms on the Middle East

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