Michigan State University
(Wikimedia Commons)

The bill states that the ongoing violence in the Middle East continues to, directly and indirectly, impact the lives of MSU students and families.

A bill by Michigan State University’s student government, Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU), has been brought forward to “condemn human rights violations inflicted upon citizens of Palestine.” 

The bill, introduced May 20 to ASMSU’s General Assembly legislative body, passed with a majority vote (17 for the bill, nine abstentions and four against).  

A Jewish MSU student who took issue with the bill after obtaining access to it, believing it to be one-sided and biased against Israel and Jewish people, shared its contents with the JN. (That student, fearing antisemitism, chose anonymity.)

The bill has been signed, but it hasn’t been posted on ASMSU’s website or on any of its social media platforms as of May 27. No ASMSU statement has been made on the bill yet, although an ASMSU representative said one is in the works. 

“It doesn’t bring both views or many views into the bill,” the anonymous student said. “There was minimal to no solid structure, no facts without bias, and many untrue claims were made.” 

The student also had a problem with the cited sources used for the bill, believing it to be biased with mostly pro-Palestinian sources.

“This bill is condemning Israel and I will no longer stay silent — considering the recent spike in antisemitism across the globe,” the Jewish student said.

Text of the Bill  

The bill begins by stating there are currently “human rights violations being committed against the people of Palestine by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).”

“There has been an eviction of many innocent families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood alongside the suppression of peaceful protests against these evictions, which have been followed by new restrictions placed by Israeli Defense Forces during the holy month of Ramadan.

“These abuses have occurred since 1948 and have escalated to violence against Palestinians in a religious context with the May 8th attacks on the Al-Aqsa mosque in which the Israeli military entered Al-Aqsa Mosque and employed the use of tear gas and rubber bullets on practicing Muslims in one of Islam’s holiest sites, injuring more than 205 people,” the bill continues. 

The bill goes into more detail on the recent conflict, stating that the Israeli Air Force on May 14 “destroyed neighborhoods, schools and a tower in Gaza housing offices for media organizations like the Associated Press and Al Jazeera, which would be widely considered an attack on press freedom.” 

The bill stated that those actions, which it says stemmed from “religious and racial discrimination,” continue to “violate human rights and restrict Muslims and other religious minorities from being present in the holy month of Ramadan.” 

“These same abuses are ongoing and have now taken place on the most important religious holiday for Muslims — Eid — a time of celebrations to commemorate Ramadan for Muslims that have fasted the holy month.”

The bill states that the ongoing violence in the Middle East continues to, directly and indirectly, impact the lives of MSU students and families. 

The bill then concludes with its main point and what else it hopes to achieve. 

“The Associated Students of Michigan State University shall officially condemn the human rights violations being inflicted upon the Palestinian people,” the bill states. “ASMSU shall call upon the administration of Michigan State University to release a statement to publicly condemn the human rights violations being inflicted upon the Palestinian people; and, ASMSU shall urge the Office of Cultural and Academic Transition (OCAT) to host quarterly events addressing human rights abuses in the respective timeframe and truly stand with the voices of the oppressed.” 

Jewish Student Response

The student who reached out to the JN and provided the text of the bill said that, as a Jew, they believe it’s their responsibility to say something when things like this come to fruition. 

“One of my favorite quotes by a rabbi that I think applies to this situation is, ‘I don’t speak because I have the power to speak. I speak because I don’t have the power to remain silent.’” 

Jordan Robinson, executive vice president of university relations for MSU’s Jewish Student Union, said JSU is currently trying to work through the contents of the bill, exploring different options and outcomes it could have. 

Robinson says he had no say in the bill but was in negotiations with the writers to try and see if a more collaborative bill could be done.

“Unfortunately, we were not able to settle on a decision,” Robinson said. “We respect every student’s right to stand up for their community and stand up for their beliefs and values. We just would’ve wished this could’ve been more of a collaborative effort to create more unity within ASMSU, rather than something much more complex.” 

With an increased level of Palestinian action in student government on campus, Robinson keeps an open mind on ways forward. 

“Jewish Student Union welcomes every group on campus to express their thoughts and opinions in any capacity they choose, just as long as it’s a safe way that they’re doing it,” Robinson said. “It’s great they’re speaking out against issues, but we want to ensure we’re advocating for peace and ensuring we’re being a support system for all of our students on campus. We welcome any dialogue they want to have with the Jewish Student Union, and we welcome collaboration amongst all groups.”

Robinson, who also oversees the JSU representative to ASMSU, says JSU is currently in active talks with the ASMSU president to explore options with the bill and to “ensure all the Jewish student’s voices are being heard and that we are protecting the safety and security of the Jewish students on campus.” 

Previous articleGuest Column: Israel and the United Arab Emirates
Next articleWho is Naftali Bennett, Israel’s (Likely) Next Prime Minister?