MSA declines vote on resolutions

The group decided to remove resolutions from Students for Justice in Palestine and Students Supporting Israel from its agenda.

MSA members, students, and concerned citizens fill room 3-120 of the Molecular and Cellular Biology building on Tuesday for to be a part of the discussion on two proposed  resolutions regarding divestment at the University.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

MSA members, students, and concerned citizens fill room 3-120 of the Molecular and Cellular Biology building on Tuesday for to be a part of the discussion on two proposed resolutions regarding divestment at the University.

Keaton Schmitt

The Minnesota Student Association voted by a margin of three votes to strike two resolutions from its agenda Tuesday — one from Students for Justice in Palestine and the other from Students Supporting Israel. 
 
 
MSA was set to vote on SJP’s resolution calling for the University to divest from companies involved with certain Israeli interactions with Palestine and a resolution from SSI condemning anti-Semitism on campus. 
 
 
Before debate on the resolutions began, CLA student representative and MSA committee director Trish Palermo called for the removal of both resolutions from the agenda. She said it wasn’t fair to put the student body in the position of choosing between being labeled anti-Semitic or in favor of war crimes.
 
 
The motion to remove both resolutions from the agenda was passed after roughly 20 minutes of discussion. 
 
 
Students Supporting Israel president Sami Rahamim said he was unsure whether his group would present its resolution again, but said he “wouldn’t rule it out.” 
 
 
“We still think that a strong resolution that condemns anti-Semitism is important. … We will look into when’s the appropriate time to have that conversation in the future,” Rahamim said. 
 
 
Rula Rashid, the president for Students for Justice in Palestine, said MSA’s removal of the resolutions was unfair to the students the group is supposed to represent. 
 
 
She said a college student government refusing to discuss an issue that is important to many students denies students proper voice.
 
 
“This is a place for students to be able to voice their concerns. If we strike down two resolutions, two identities, two groups of people, who do students go to in the future?” Rashid said during the meeting.
 
 
Rahamim said he understands why MSA voted to strike the resolutions from the agenda and said the conversations surrounding the vote were an important result.
 
 
“We had a lot of really good conversations in the past two weeks … that explored issues on a deep level and that were more than just slogans,” Rahamim said.
 
 
Differing views
 
 
Rahamim said in an interview before the meeting that the divestment resolution targets the Jewish community on campus. He also said that the resolution would limit discussion on the topic between different groups. 
 
 
“The [divestment] resolution looks to divide us, and we can’t let that happen,” he said. 
 
 
Other students on campus feel that divestment is a more unbiased stance to take. 
 
 
Alaina DeSalvo, a University student and a Jewish Voice for Peace member, said she believes that divestment is the only way for the University to remain neutral.
 
 
“[Divesting] is saying, ‘I’m not supporting human rights offenses, and I am not supporting anything else. I am a neutral observer,’ ” she said.
 
 
Prior to the meeting, President Eric Kaler released a statement saying he didn’t endorse either resolution. 
 
 
In his statement, Kaler said he does not support divestment from Israel because extensive boycotts could go against the University’s “commitment to the free exchange of ideas.”
 
 
Kaler also said that such a boycott may unfairly single out a country’s citizens.
 
 
Regarding SSI’s resolution, Kaler said he condemned prejudice against Jews but said the resolution could limit the ability of students to discuss their opinions and ideas on Israel-Palestine issues. 
 
 
“I am also concerned that the second resolution may limit the prospects for constructive campus dialogue in light of its possible implication that supporters of the disinvestment resolution are also supporters of anti-Semitism,” Kaler said in the statement.