On December 1, 2015 Students Supporting Israel at Indiana University successfully passed a resolution in its student government. The resolution was voted on with a majority of twenty two votes against six with six abstaining. The resolution adopted the United States' State Department definition of antisemitism against the Jewish people. In addition, the resolution criticized the BDS movement.
"The Indiana University Student Association adopts the definition of anti-Semitism as stated above as well as the State Department’s understanding of Anti-Semitism relative to Israel"
"The Indiana University Student Association recognizes that the Jewish people, like all peoples, have a collective right to self-determination, and considers attempts to undermine these rights, including the global BDS Movement against Israel, to be a form of bigotry"
The resolution was the fifth legislation to pass led by Students Supporting Israel leaders across the country since February 2014. On days when the anti-Israel voices keep on raising, when swastikas are being drawn on Jewish fraternity houses, and when students are discriminated against for being Jewish, the resolution came right on time for an impact within the Jewish community and the general community at Indiana University.
Rebekah Molasky the incoming President of Students Supporting Israel at Indiana University reflected on the large accomplishment:
I would consider myself extremely lucky to be a Jewish student attending Indiana University. When the Indiana University Student Association (IUSA) passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, I am proud to say that I, along with Students Supporting Israel, worked for months on this resolution and that it has paid off, passing with a vote of 22-6-6. I could not be more proud of my student government for taking a stand on such an important issue that affects so many Jewish students around the world. It is my hope that we at Indiana University can set an example for other campuses to do what we did, even though it was not easy.
This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to meet with students from around the nation at the StandWithUs Emerson Conference. StandWithUs is an international Israel education and advocacy organization that has fellows on different campuses and I am lucky enough to represent them at Indiana University. At the Emerson Conference I had the chance to hear stories from students across the nation about the anti-Semitism they have to endure on a daily basis. Needless to say, I was left in shock. At Indiana University, we are fortunate to have an inclusive campus that respects diversity and differences. Students on our campus are not afraid to wear their Star of David necklaces or proudly carry accessories bearing the “I <3 Israel” title on them. This is something that we take for granted, and a luxury that not every student has. Returning to campus from the experience at (StandWithUs) made me want to do something for our campus.
Unfortunately, we live in a reactive society. All too often, nothing gets done until something tragic occurs, and I did not want to be the one to sit back and watch that happen. Everyone always says, “That could never happen on our campus,” or, “that would never happen in 2015,” but anti-Semitism happens every day, all over the world, and something needed to be done. As the academic year started I met with my Students Supporting Israel board and we all decided to take action and be proactive. We wanted to make sure that our student leaders on campus knew the concerns of our community and took preventative actions to assure that we could continue to thrive and feel safe on our campus.
Indiana University has one of the largest Jewish populations of any public university in the United States. If you ask almost any Jewish student their reasons for attending Indiana University, one of their top reasons will almost always be “The large Jewish population”. During Passover, our dining halls accommodate the students and we have kosher options, something that most other campuses don’t have and something that other students have to fight for. At a university that attracts so many Jewish students, we needed to make sure that our student leaders are educated on what affects us.
Our resolution was one of the longest that our student government has ever seen. It was important to make sure that all of our concerns were addressed. We had 51 sponsoring organizations, which included almost every Greek house on our campus. It was amazing to see so many organizations willing to take a stand on anti-Semitism. The basics of the resolution were to align Indiana University with the state department's’ definition of anti-Semitism. As you could probably guess, this caused some contention. It was important to make clear in our resolution that we were not asking our student congress to take a stand on the Israeli-Palestine conflict. It was also important to make clear that this resolution did not infringe on free speech. Instead it was meant to define hate-speech versus academic speech. Furthermore, the resolution assured diversity training for our future congressman- something that was never required before. We wanted to assure that our congressmen are educated on what affects diverse communities on our campus, and bridges gaps between our student leaders and their constituents. Our resolution also prevents IUSA from promoting, funding, or facilitating events that promote anti-Semitism.
It is our hope that this resolution inspires other groups on our campus and across the nation to write their own resolutions. Since the passing of our resolution, we have received an outpour of support from across the nation. We are extremely proud that people are recognizing our university for the good that it is doing. Colleges are constantly in the spotlight for negative actions, and Indiana University is no exception. We are happy that this resolution has provided a positive light on our amazing campus. Students Supporting Israel has left their legacy on this campus. It is our hope that other groups can leave theirs.
I may have been the spearhead of this initiative, but it would not have happened at all if it weren’t for my student organization, Students Supporting Israel (SSI). SSI is an international pro-Israel grassroots movement that gives students the confidence to pursue initiatives like this. If I had not joined SSI last year, I would not be where I am today. SSI allowed me to meet passionate students who share a love of Israel and furthered my ties to the Jewish community here on campus. SSI supported me during the writing of this resolution and during the long congressional sessions. When I brought up the idea of passing a resolution such as this one, they did not look at me like I was crazy. They supported me, and did everything possible to help. I could not be more proud to be the incoming president of this organization on campus.
Of course, all of this would not be possible if it were not for the groups that helped us, and trained us along the way. I would like to personally thank StandWithUs, Hasbara Fellowships, Indiana Hillel, AISH Bloomington, and Chabad. Further, I would like to thank the congressman of IUSA for taking a stand, and passing our resolution. Specifically, I would like to thank our student allies in IUSA who spoke in favor of our resolution and helped us make it the best it could be. “Rebekah, Junior in college, is the incoming President of Students Supporting Israel at the University of Indiana and a StandwithUs Emerson Fellow. Rebekah is majoring in political science with a double minor in law and public policy and advocacy. After graduation Rebekah hopes to attend law school and become a lobbyist.