Hold Tufts University Accountable

Tufts must defend democracy and reject the chaos brought by anti-Israel activists

Tufts University has experienced intense pressure to undermine the integrity of its own election process at the behest of anti-Israel interests on campus. The latest move by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and other activists who support academic and cultural warfare against Israel, would even make their role models in Ramallah blush.

Not only have they tried to push through a divisive anti-Israel referendum, but they did so by flouting the election process established by the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Constitution. Tufts must not allow its constitutional election procedures to be cast aside while the voice of the Jewish minority on campus is silenced.

The TCU Constitution requires official referendum language to be publicly available nine days before the day of a vote. In this case, the language was approved by the Committee on Student Life the day before the election – far fewer than the nine required days. Also required by the constitution is 250 signatures in favor of the referendum appearing on the ballot to be collected after the language is approved. This requirement was also apparently cast aside.

This breakdown in the constitutional process at Tufts is disturbing to see but not entirely unsurprising given the lack of respect that the Palestinian leaders, for whom SJP pledges its support, treats their own electoral process. Free elections haven’t been held in Palestinian territories since 2006. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s term expired in 2009, however keeps unilaterally extending it and making a mockery of our democratic process. Needless to say, this has done nothing to help the Palestinian people and ultimately undermines the government’s legitimacy.

Back at Tufts, in addition to the complete nonobservance of procedural requirements, the TCU Senate also engaged in flagrant disregard for the separation of powers within the student government. Members of the TCU Executive Board engaged in intimidation when they threatened to force out members of the Judiciary who did not support the referendum language. One member of the Judiciary was even made to recuse themselves on the basis of “Jewish identity”. The TCU president then showed up uninvited to a Judiciary meeting – where he had no official place or authority – to advocate on behalf of SJP’s hateful referendum.

Tufts student government must not go the way of Palestinian elections. Now more than ever, election integrity must be fiercely defended. We must hold Tufts University accountable and demand that Tufts follows its constitutional election procedures even in the face of pressure from nefarious activists seeking to sow discord.

About the Author
Bassem Eid (born 5 February 1958) is a Palestinian living in Israel who has an extensive career as a Palestinian human rights activist. His initial focus was on human rights violations committed by Israeli armed forces, but for many years has broadened his research to include human rights violations committed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the Palestinian armed forces on their own people. He founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group in 1996, although it ceased operations in 2011. He now works as a political analyst for Israeli TV and radio.
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