Death threats and anti-Semitic epithets were reportedly issued by pro-Palestinian activists at the University of Michigan against students who oppose a resolution to divest from Israel.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that University of Michigan police were first contacted last week after two anti-Israel activists shouted “threats of violence” at a student who refused to support the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, during a “sit-in” at the student government’s headquarters.
The Beacon has further learned that the pro-Israel student received death threats and that others have allegedly been called “kikes” and “dirty Jews” by backers of BDS, which aims to delegitimize and weaken the Jewish state through economic means.
“The atmosphere of intimidation and violence could leave the University of Michigan vulnerable to legal action and political retribution on a national scale, according to multiple sources in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere who are monitoring the situation,” wrote the news site.
Kenneth Marcus, a former staff director at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, told the publication that he has contacted high-level university officials to discuss the situation but that these calls have yet to be returned.
“This is a very disturbing incident and if the students’ allegations are true, this is an environment that is hostile to Jewish students and the university has a legal responsibility to take prompt and effective action,” said Marcus, who serves as president and general counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.
University officials have not yet issued a response, despite numerous requests.
“Our biggest concern is these Jewish students might be vulnerable to a violent criminal attack, and we’re very concerned about whether the university is taking that seriously enough,” he said. “If the worst happens there is substantial liability for the university.”
“Even short of that, if the university allows a hostile environment to form without taking effective action, it could be liable for a civil lawsuit or federal investigation” by the Department of Education, Marcus said.
In December, University of Michigan was accused of taking inadequate action after pro-Palestinian activists posted 1,500 anti-Israel “eviction” notices on the doors of pro-Israel students and Jews.
Senior pro-Israel leaders in Washington, D.C. have been closely monitoring the situation and say they are gearing up to take action.
“The University of Michigan has allowed known pro-Hamas activists to openly organize riots on their campus and create an environment in which pro-Israel students had their lives threatened,” said a source whom the Beacon called a “high-level official with a prominent pro-Israel organization.”
“Now, after months of watching outside groups coordinate hateful stunts, university administrators are allowing students to be bullied into taking an anti-Israel vote with a gun pointed to their heads,” added the source. “They’ll have to answer for this, certainly politically and probably legally.”