Wayne State University
Wayne State University (iStock)

In a joint statement, Hillel of Metro Detroit’s WSU Student groups — the Jewish Student Organization, Students for Israel and AEPi — said they were “disappointed and saddened” by the resolution.

The Wayne State University Student Senate approved an anti-Israel resolution on Friday, May 27. The statement, posted on Instagram, “condemned all forms of antisemitism, Islamophobia and violence against Israeli and Palestinian people,” but criticized the use of American taxpayer dollars to support Israel’s policies regarding Palestinians.

Immediately following the vote, Hillel of Metro Detroit’s WSU Student groups — the Jewish Student Organization, Students for Israel and AEPi — released a joint statement. 

In the statement, they said they were “disappointed and saddened” by the resolution.

It went on to say: “The double standard of singling out accusations against Israel, the only Jewish country, while ignoring atrocities around the world, is antisemitic. At this time, when antisemitism has increased in this country and abroad, such a one-sided statement creates an unsafe environment for Jewish students and all supporters of Israel.”

In the statement, the students called on WSU President M. Roy Wilson and the WSU Board of Governors to denounce the resolution and requested that WSU adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, so that Jewish students will feel safe on campus. 

M. Roy Wilson
M. Roy Wilson

Wilson released a statement on Thursday, June 3, addressing students and faculty. “Some members of the community have assumed that the [Student Senate] statement carries the endorsement of the university. It does not.

“As stated on our website, We value all people, and understanding their unique experiences talents and perspectives make us stronger and better persons,” his statement included.

The Detroit News reported June 8 that Wilson received backlash from the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights organization, and the Wayne State University Student Senate for his statement. 

Wilson blocked the Student Senate from sending a mass email containing the anti-
Israel resolution throughout the university. 

Hillel Responds

Hillel of Metro Detroit Executive Director Miriam Starkman said the organization remains dedicated to ensuring the physical and mental health and safety of students and will provide personal guidance to students and an “empathetic space [for students] to process their feelings about the current rise in antisemitism, prepare to enter difficult conversations and engage with non-Jewish students and campus leadership to advocate on important issues.” 

Miriam Starkman
Miriam Starkman

Starkman said that she hopes the university will adopt a definition of antisemitism that will help protect the Jewish students who are feeling “threatened and unsafe right now given the current climate on campus.”

She was also concerned about the language used in the Student Senate statement, including the accusations of ethnic cleansing and the promotion of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions). 

“I believe the adaptation of the definition should take place at the administration level and not at the student government level,” Starkman said. “It should be pervasive throughout the university and not dependent on the student leadership.”

Students are expected to return to campus in September. Starkman said, “Wayne State has historically been a positive place for Jewish students and the administration has been supportive, so I’m hoping that by the time school is back in session that we will be able to do whatever we can to ensure a safe environment for Jewish students.”  

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