Students Supporting Israel- a leading force within student governments across the country
Today, February 3rd, 2021 marks a new achievement for Students Supporting Israel (SSI), as well as pro-Israel, Zionist, Jewish student activists across the nation — 20 bills that were proposed in student governments by SSI activists, have successfully passed and been adopted by universities across the United States, Canada, and Argentina.
This week the University of California Santa Barbara student government passed legislation to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. This is the 10th university to pass IHRA legislation in an ongoing effort to combat antisemitism and support the Jewish peoples’ right to self-determination since August of 2020. Furthermore, this is the 20th university since February 2014 to pass legislation in their student government with the direct assistance of SSI and our student leaders.
Harrison Kerdman and Lionel Hazan serve as the Co-Presidents of SSI at UCSB. Harrison commented following the passing of the legislation:
“I am so happy that a representative from every organization of the UCSB Jewish community was able to speak on this important bill during the student government meeting. It took long hours of writing and negotiations but in the end, it worked out and the IHRA definition of antisemitism passed unanimously. This gives our community such an important tool to protect ourselves from both classical as well as contemporary antisemitism.”
Lionel added: “I am thrilled to see how positively the wider UCSB community responded to the complete definition of antisemitism. Jewish students on American campuses should remain assured we are not forgotten.”
In February 2014, as Boycott Divestment Sanction (BDS) resolutions were gaining traction, being introduced at universities all over the country, we at SSI asked ourselves the following questions:
- Why must we always be on the defense, protecting ourselves from anti-Israel and antisemitic resolutions and rhetoric?
- Why must we always argue within the frame that the anti-Israel side presents? We can’t win this way.
- Can Israel student clubs protect both the State of Israel as well as the Jewish students on campus from Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism?
The questions above only clarified our vision. The answer to the questions was simple — the Pro Israel students need to get involved in student government at their universities where they can propose and pass resolutions that will benefit Jewish and Zionist students, while simultaneously shaping the opinion of our future leaders. In 2014, at the University of Minnesota, SSI’s founding chapter accomplished a groundbreaking achievement by passing its first bill in student government. Seven years later, at the University of California Santa Barbara, SSI student leaders continue our important work by passing our 20th piece of legislation across North and South America.
Now there are 20 campuses that no longer allow antisemites to hide behind the veil of anti-zionism. 20 campuses that refuse to deny Jews the right to self-determination. 20 campuses that recognize that double standards and delegitimization of Israel is the modern embodiment of historical antisemitism. This is a monumental achievement for pro-Israel student activists. The SSI movement is proud and honored to spearhead this campaign that is setting the tone of the conversation, dictating the pace of the events, and playing by our rules rather than the rules of the anti-Israel community.
This is the tangible evidence that grassroots activism is effective. Students on university and college campuses do make a difference. Our students have made their voices heard despite the backlash they face. Our students are shaping the dialogue surrounding Israel on their campuses and promoting the truth about Israel. Our students’ activism is reaching a generation of future leaders and creates strong coalitions across the board. Israel is continually misrepresented in the media and presented poorly on our campuses. SSI students work tirelessly to correct the narrative and give Israel a fair representation in the open forum of University campuses.
This achievement did not come without struggle. Students had to fight long and difficult battles within their governments as well as facing many challenges within their own communities. Many were ostracized, both socially and academically, facing unjust consequences for their commitment to Israel activism. While there is still a lot of work to be done on college campuses across the world, this significant achievement shows that all their hard work has made a difference and will continue to make a difference for future generations of activists to come.
Congratulations Students Supporting Israel UCSB, and Congratulations to the SSI activists across the world.
Students Supporting Israel.
Pro Israel. Grassroots. Movement.
In 2017, we saw the best example of the work SSI does on campuses. In 48 hours, between Orange County California, and Santa Barbara, 3 campuses produced 3 different results. At Chapman University, an SSI chapter passed a pro-Israel bill in its student government. On the very same day at California State University Long Beach (CSULB), where there wasn’t an SSI chapter, a BDS bill was passed with more than 15 senators voting in favor of the antisemitic language and legislation. The next day at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), the SSI chapter and its allies on campus defeated a BDS resolution with zero student senators voting for BDS. Today, CSULB also has an SSI chapter on their campus. Three-hour drive, two locations with SSI and one without — a huge difference.