Inside University of Michigan's Israel Divestment Debate

Letter from Ann Arbor

A Campus Divided: Students at the University of Michigan called on their school to divest from companies that they say contribute to human rights violations against the Palestinians.
Adam Glanzman/Michigan Daily
A Campus Divided: Students at the University of Michigan called on their school to divest from companies that they say contribute to human rights violations against the Palestinians.

By Yardain Amron

Published March 30, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

The resolution itself called for the university to investigate its investment portfolio and divest from companies whose sales to Israel allegedly tied the firms to human rights violations against the Palestinians. SAFE identified United Technologies, General Electric, Heidelberg Cement, and Caterpillar as among these companies. The result was one SAFE expected. But Barbara Harvey, a co-founder of the Jewish Voice for Peace’s chapter in Detroit, said the night was a huge victory.

“This was the first significant exposure [this campus] has had to the Palestinian narrative,” enthused Harvey, whose group supports the divestment drive.

Sophomore Erica Mindel, president of I-LEAD said she was upset because she felt inhibited from expressing her feelings at times.

“Any time that anybody in our community would say that we’re trying to understand your narrative and we accept your narrative as legitimate, that wasn’t reciprocated in any way,” Mindel said. “It’s scary to be targeted like that, and scary to know that how you’re feeling won’t be accepted as legitimate by other people on this campus.”

Her sentiment could be heard, in mirror image, on the other side. SAFE supporter Joel Reinstein said of the pro-Israel students, “They just clearly weren’t listening. They were continually speaking for Palestinians. They were continually ignoring the arguments we were putting forward in terms of their responses. They were ignoring these incredible heartbreaking Palestinian narratives.”

As a journalist for the campus daily, I found it a very hard week. I have friends on both sides of the conflict, and while I’m Jewish and come to the issue with a bias, I found myself swaying back and forth throughout the week. I saw students stretching towards compassion and I saw students angry and full of hate. I’ve been a part of this issue since I was born, but have never felt so torn between the sides as I do currently.

They say college is over before you know it. But this past week is one that will define many students’ experience here.

Yardain Amron is a staff reporter for the Michigan Daily, the campus newspaper of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.