The president of Case Western Reserve University condemned a student government resolution that calls on the Ohio university to divest from companies that “directly provide weaponry, security systems, prisons, or military support for the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories” within two years.
The resolution was proposed by the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and approved by the Undergraduate Student Government on Tuesday night.
President Eric Kaler issued a statement the following day calling the resolution “profoundly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.”
“Passing this resolution last night undermines the safety and comfort on our campus of members of our Jewish community,” he said in a statement. “While the resolution calls for disinvestment in a naïve list of companies that they view as oriented to the military or in support of corporate correction prisons, undoubtedly it promotes anti-Semitism. A vote for this resolution is clearly a vote against Israel and an aggression towards the Jewish members of our community.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim advocacy group, has called on Kaler to retract his response, apologize and meet with Palestinian students.
“President Kaler conflates the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people with antisemitism and hate,” Julia Shearson, executive director of CAIR’s Cleveland chapter, said in a statement. “In doing so, he commits the logical fallacy of attacking a straw man. Moreover, he dismissively erases the perspective of the Palestinian students on campus, many of whose immediate families are directly impacted by the Israeli occupation. If President Kaler wants to promote the university’s stated core values, he should stop denigrating Palestinian students and instead reach out to them and their allies on campus and listen with an unbiased ear to their perspectives.”