The resignation of the president of the Michigan Student Zionists, a pro-Israel student group, left some students on campus under the impression that it had disbanded.
But LSA senior Adi Neuman, now the MSZ president, said the organization will continue without former president Rick Dorfman, despite Dorfman’s recommendation that the group dissolve. Neuman said he was surprised that students thought MSZ had disbanded.
“MSZ has done a lot of good work in the past … and will continue to do so. Rick has been a valuable asset and we look forward to continuing our pro-Israel activism in the future,” Neuman said.
Dorfman, an LSA junior, founded MSZ in July 2002 with Neuman.
“MSZ has become a dividing entity in the Jewish community, and while there may be a base of students on campus who agree with its ideologies, the effects of MSZ are contrary to its initial goals … I resign my position as president of MSZ, and recommend its abandonment by the remaining members,” Dorfman said in a letter published yesterday in The Michigan Daily. He could not be reached for further comment last night.
Dorfman said in his letter that his resignation was prompted by a viewpoint in Monday’s Daily written by several pro-Israel student leaders in response. They were responding to MSZ’s support of the controversial campustruth.org advertisements being run in several college newspapers.
“We felt that the Campus Truth ads did serve to point out one important root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – that being the virulent anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews promoted by Palestinian leadership,” Neuman said.
The Campus Truth ads have sparked debate because some say they portray Palestinians as terrorists.
LSA senior Yulia Dernovsky and engineering junior Avi Jacobson, co-chairs of the American Movement for Israel, co-authored the viewpoint criticizing Dorfman.
“We could not tolerate extreme ideologies being voiced in our name and so we condemned the Campus Truth ads and the Michigan Student Zionists’ support for them in Monday’s Daily,” Jacobson said.
Dernovsky said she disagreed with some of MSZ’s actions in the past and thought they would disband after Dorfman’s resignation.
“It was frustrating that we were sometimes associated with them when most of the time we were not on the same playing field,” she said.
LSA sophomore Ben Gerber also said MSZ falsely represented the Jewish campus community.
“I applaud Rick Dorfman’s resignation and disbandment of his radical Zionist group MSZ,” Gerber said in a letter to the Daily, before finding out that the group had not disbanded.
Gerber said groups like MSZ only encourage hate and propaganda in the campus debate over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In response to other pro-Israel students who believe MSZ misrepresented the Jewish community, Neuman said, “No group can claim to represent the pro-Israel community or the Jewish community on campus … MSZ simply worked to expose truths about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and we understood that not everyone was going to agree with our viewpoint.”
LSA senior Fadi Kiblawi, chair of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, said his group – the most vocal pro-Palestinian group on campus – would not be affected by Dorfman’s resignation.
“Our campaign is not contingent on what any of the pro-Israel groups are doing or are driven by,” Kiblawi said.
Dernovsky said she hopes the new leadership will steer MSZ in a more moderate direction.
“I hope that we’ll be able to create a working relationship with them towards creating Israel programs on campus,” Dernovsky said.