Multiple groups on campus join together to reject the backlash against Israel and what they see as not-so-veiled anti-Semitism.
By a nearly 2-1 margin, students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign voted “no” to a proposed anti-Israel referendum calling for divestment from companies doing business with the Jewish state.
Described as “a discriminatory referendum” by the Israel education group StandWithUs, the 3,133 votes against and 1,700 votes for divesting from the Jewish state represent one of the most lopsided defeats of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in recent years.
StandWithUs congratulated more than half-a-dozen student groups and organizations, including Illini Hillel, Students Supporting Israel, AEPi and Illini Chabad, for working together to bring down the BDS campaign on campus.
In an exclusive interview with the Haym Salomon Center, Illini Chabad Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel stated:
“We are here for the students and work very closely with the administration to make the University of Illinois a place where every student can feel comfortable and at home. The Jewish students should feel comfortable, the pro-Israel students should feel comfortable—all students should feel comfortable. No student should ever fall victim to divisiveness or feel unwelcome, and that is why it is important to us to be involved in any of these matters, be they Jewish-related, Israel-related or campus-related. And when it came to BDS, we are very happy that these student groups all worked together. The idea was that we are all united to defeat this. And by working united, we have defeated it—and not only defeated it; we defeated it 2 to 1!”
According to the rabbi, who with his wife, Goldie, has run the campus Chabad center there for 15 years, the anti-Israel BDS measure made Jewish and pro-Israel students uncomfortable and nervous, which according to him is “the goal of these BDS campaigns.”