BDS activist voted in as University of California student regent

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Click photo to download. Caption: Sadia Saifuddin, an activist in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Credit: Facebook.

By Jacob Kamaras/JNS.org

Click photo to download. Caption: Sadia Saifuddin, an activist in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Credit: Facebook.

Sadia
Saifuddin, an activist in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement
against Israel, on Wednesday in San Francisco was voted in as a 2014-15 student
regent on the University of California (UC) Board of Regents, the governing board
of the 10-school UC system.

Saifuddin, a Pakistani American, co-sponsored
and vocally promoted a student government resolution this spring calling for UC
Berkeley, where she is a student, to divest from Israel. She has been involved
with anti-Israel groups including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muslim Students
Association and Students for Justice in Palestine.

Representatives
from the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs and the Simon Wiesenthal Center attended Wednesday’s Board of
Regents vote to speak out against Saifuddin’s candidacy. Roberta Seid,
research-education director of StandWithUs, said
she told the regents they “should be trying to find a bridge builder, not a
bridge burner” like Saifuddin to be their student board member.

“What
I would call for [following the vote] is for the regents to re-double their
efforts to speak against bigotry, anti-Jewish bigotry, and BDS, and that they
should re-double their efforts to uphold an inclusive environment, tolerance,
and intellectual responsibility,” Seid told JNS.org.

Richard
Blum was the only regent who abstained from the board’s voice vote, due to his
belief that Saifuddin “led a movement that was so divisive” on campus, making
her unfit to be representative of all students, according to Seid. Regent
Bonnie Reiss acknowledged her personal opposition to Saifuddin’s views, but maintained that the regents
“would not have selected Sadia if we thought she was anti-Semitic,” the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The
Wiesenthal Center had organized an online petition opposing Saifuddin’s
nomination on the grounds of the Israel divestment resolution she co-sponsored
at UC Berkeley, as well as a bill she authored “to curb the First Amendment rights of free
speech for UC lecturer and pro-Israel activist Tammi Benjamin, which violates
the very essence of being a member of the Board of Regents.”

Saifuddin
also signed a July 2012 letter slamming the UC campus climate report, which
brought to light the extent of bullying and harassment of Jewish students by
anti-Israel elements at UC schools. At the same time, Saifuddin authored and
co-sponsored a March 2013 resolution denouncing specific individuals as Islamophobic.

“It is worrisome that she defends free speech
rights for those who share her political views but does not uphold that same
right for others,” StandWithUs wrote in a letter to the UC Board of Regents.

The
26-member UC Board of Regents appoints one student regent for a one-year term.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said it respects the Board of Regents’
independent confirmation process, but that it is “troubled by Saifuddin’s prior leadership role in anti-Israel
activities on campus.”

“As a Student
Regent, Saifuddin has an obligation to represent the interests of the entire UC
student body,” ADL said. “We will observe her actions as a Student Regent
closely and will not hesitate to speak out if she runs afoul of this
obligation.”

Choosing Saifuddin “sends the wrong message and in fact,
defeats the Regents’ own goal of being more inclusive,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO
of StandWithUs.

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Source: JNS.org

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