Students at the University of Michigan, among the country's leading pro-Israel activists, have launched an Invest in Israel campaign to counter a national effort to prod university officials to divest from companies that do business in Israel.
It is important for us to show that Israel is a valuable ally for the United States and that any campaign to convince universities to divest from Israel is simply misguided and wrong, says Michigan Hillel Board Chairman Eric Bukstein.
The Invest in Israel idea is catching on. Across North America, students are raising funds to help rebuild Hebrew University's Frank Sinatra Cafeteria, to buying Israeli bonds and donating them to schools across the country.
While Michigan Hillel has consistently advocated for Israel, the latest campaign has been energized by a national divestment conference in Ann Arbor from October 12-14. The conference has been denounced by Detroit News editorial page editor Nolan Finley who called it a student workshop that expresses tacit support for terrorism and has as its mission the destruction of Israel. He wrote that the conference's mission statement declares 'it is not our place to dictate the strategies or tactics adopted by the Palestinians in their struggle for liberation.' This outsourcing of morality allows the group to focus on Israel's sins while ignoring those slaughtered by Palestinian suicide bombers.
University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman supports the right of students to conduct the conference on campus but opposes divestment. She announced that I do not plan to ask our Board of Regents to pursue divestment. Two weeks ago, Harvard University President Lawrence Summers condemned divestment and other anti-Israel activities as anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.
University of Michigan students are promoting their Invest in Israel campaign among faculty, students and community members. They are planning multiple events as well as an advertising campaign in the campus newspaper. They will continue the initiative throughout the year using resources from the AVI CHAI Foundation, Hillel: The Foundation For Jewish Campus Life and the Israel on Campus Coalition.
University of Michigan Berman Fellow Benjamin Berger is pleased that the campaign is uniting a lot of students from a wide array of beliefs There are students, alumni, and parents coming together because they care for Israel.