Skip To Content

Tufts Student: BDS Resolution Vote Marginalized Jewish Voices

At 1:00 a.m. on Thursday April 6, I got a text from a friend telling me that the Tufts University student government was going to hear a resolution about divestment the coming Sunday. We would have only four days to respond to this. Many members of the Jewish community and the Tufts Students for Two States group (an alliance of student groups who advocate for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) sprang into action. On Sunday night, the Jewish community would be preparing for Passover: finishing work before the holiday or travelling home for Seder. I knew that when the resolution was proposed, I would be on a plane, unable to communicate on the matter. We wanted to share our stories, but we were not going to have a chance to have our voices heard.

In the morning I awoke to the updates that despite many Jews’ grave concern about timing, the resolution was on the docket for Sunday, and that it would not be moved for Passover. While the timing of this vote was not done with the intention of marginalizing Jewish voices, it effectively did so. Many people on both sides advocated tabling it so as to foster real discourse on the matter and asked those who proposed it to move it, yet they were unwilling to do so. In this action, they silenced many of the most passionate voices on this issue. In the end, there was a chance for those who would not be there to fill out a Google Form read at random for a period of 30 minutes. For a matter this important, we deserved to be in the room, and we had neither the time to plan or process it. A Google Form is not a substitute for our voices.

The substance of the resolution focused on Tufts divesting from a few companies, yet the power of it lay in its symbolism. The gravity of this resolution lies in what it said about our community. The resolution did not affirm or disaffirm Israel’s right to exist. While proponents of this bill will note that this called only for a small measure of divestment, Tufts SJP used the hashtag #BDSworks in reference to the resolution’s passage. Additionally, in passing a resolution that calls Israel an apartheid state while not recognizing its existence and necessity, the resolution acts as a powerful symbol against Israel rather than against Israel’s actions. In the resolution’s inability to separate the two, it works to delegitimize Israel’s existence.

My great-grandmother used to carry around two pills of cyanide in her pocket, one for her, and one for my grandmother, an infant at the time, in case Rommel’s army invaded. My great-great-grandmother was deported from Vienna and shot in the head in a Belarusian death camp. I am only here because my great-grandma litzi came to Tel Aviv and saved my family from certain death. Today, as I looked my grandma in the eyes, I felt an everlasting gratitude for Israel’s existence.

I support discourse and critical discussion about Israel, but this resolution did not foster such conversation. This resolution worked to undermine Israel’s existence and silence Jewish voices on campus. I encourage a real discussion of our campus’ values around this issue, but the resolution did not provide that, rather it pushed forward an agenda in under a week’s time and passed the resolution in the dead of night. I am disappointed and hurt that members of the Tufts community chose to push forward a resolution for the sake of politics at the expense of our community’s dialogue and it’s member’s voices.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.