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U. of Michigan Regents Won’t Divest Despite Students’ Anti-Israel Campaign

The majority of the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents announced Thursday that they would not be forming a committee to explore divesting from companies that operate in Israel, despite a resolution to do so that was passed last month by the student government.

Six of the eight regents signed a joint statement Thursday that they would not accede to the student government’s wishes, adding that they “strongly oppose any action involving the boycott, divestment or sanction of Israel.”

“We must consider the broad landscape of university stakeholders including all students, our faculty, staff, alumni and the citizens of the State of Michigan,” they added.

The vote last month, which passed 23-17 on a secret ballot, called on the regents to form a committee to re-evaluate its investments in companies like Boeing, Hewlett-Packard and United Technologies, which were alleged to contribute to violence against Palestinians because of their business relationships with the Israeli Defense Forces. The vote had been the first victory in 11 attempts dating back to 2002 for Michigan’s pro-Palestinian student campaigners.

No American university has ever withdrawn investments from Israel or companies that operate there because of pro-Palestinian political pressure. According to the MLive Media Group, the University of Michigan has only ever divested twice for political reasons — from apartheid South Africa in 1978, and from the tobacco industry in 2000.

A new study found that only 2% of Jewish students and 7% of non-Jewish students support boycotting Israeli universities and scholars, a key demand of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

The study also found that 21% of Jewish students believed that Michigan had an atmosphere that is hostile to Jews, and 51% believe it has an atmosphere that is hostile to Israel.

Contact Aiden Pink at pink@forward.com or on Twitter, @aidenpink

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U. of Michigan Regents Won’t Divest Despite Students’ Anti-Israel Campaign

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