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CU Divest Attempt Almost Non-Event

Colorado Stand With Us Director Yona Eshkenazi

CU Alumnus Michael Rabb presented a resolution for Israel Divestment at the University of Colorado’s Board of Regents meeting today, but his two minutes during public comments to the board were ably rebutted by Yona Eshkenazi, Colorado Director of Stand With Us, and both were overshadowed by an hour of public comment on CU’s plan to close the Journalism School and several students speaking in favor of the immigrant in-state tuition bill now before the Colorado Legislature.

While Rabb appeared to be accompanied by one supporter, there were 10-20 Israel supporters in the auditorium, including Amy Stein, Director of the Boulder Office of ADL, Jonathan Lev, Executive Director of the Boulder Jewish Community Center and himself a CU alumnus, and Janet Sherman, Director of the Denver-based Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC).  ADL and the JCRC both submitted letters to the Regents opposing Rabb’s resolution.  Rabb’s rambling statement used the word “apartheid” to describe Israel 13 times.  Eshkenazi’s statement drew scattered applause from the audience, the only talk that did so in the entire public comment segment of the Regents’ meeting.

The Regents offered no comments to either statement, and took no action on Rabb’s resolution during the meeting.

The divestment issue did not make it into the Daily Camera’s coverage of the Regents’ meeting, which focused on the remarks about the Journalism School, the immigrant bill, the Regent’s approval of a dorm remodel, and the approval of an American Indian scholarship fund.

UPDATE: Here is the complete text of Yona Eshkenazi’s statement.  It is followed by a link to the JCRC’s letter to the Regents.

Remarks to CU Regents:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak. My name is Yona Eshkenazi and as a representative of StandWithUs, an Israel education organization I respectfully urge you to reject the divestment resolution.

Also present today is Amy Stein, Director of the Anti Defamation League in Boulder and Janet Sherman, Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council on behalf of its 37 member organizations.

The University should promote education, not the recycled propaganda that is the premise of this resolution. Multiethnic, democratic Israel and its policies are the diametric opposite of Apartheid South Africa. This resolution’s sole purpose is to misinform and foment bigotry against Israel.

The University should endorse CONSTRUCTIVE efforts for peace, not promote malicious and destructive measures. Divestment activists oppose peaceful coexistence and a two-state solution. The radicalism of their demands echoes that of extreme groups in the Middle East. They are trying to manipulate universities into supporting their agenda. The University should firmly resist this effort.

Please note that divestment resolutions bitterly divided UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, Stanford and other campuses. In the aftermath, deep bitterness remained.

Please note as well that the US Office of Civil Rights and the European Union have underscored that one-sided attacks on Israel are a form of anti-Semitism.

I respectfully urge you to follow the lead of the University of California Regents. They repudiated divestment and stated, “We must take great care that no ONE organization or COUNTRY is held to a DIFFERENT STANDARD than any other.” They concluded that divestment should be considered “ONLY when the UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT declares that a foreign regime is committing acts of genocide.”

I urge you to uphold similarly high standards and reject this one-sided resolution.

Thank you very much.

JCRC Letter to Regents 2-22-11

About David Fellows

I've been writing things since grammar school, and served as a writer, photographer and/or an editor on my junior high and high school newspapers; the Daily Trojan at USC (where I earned my journalism degree); the student newspaper at the Anderson School at UCLA (where I earned my MBA); and written and edited countless business documents and presentations in the ensuing twenty years. I've been involved Jewishly since my bris and in Boulder since 1995. I'm married to my Executive Director Cheryl, and we have two children, Lauren and Ethan.

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