Wisconsin Public Radio

Jewish Groups, Rothman Condemn UWM Deal with Pro-Palestinian Protestors

The Water Council says it never had ties to Israeli groups.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - May 15th, 2024 10:55 am
UW-Milwaukee students, staff and faculty protest in an encampment for a second day in support of Palestinian statehood on April 30, 2024. Evan Casey/WPR

UW-Milwaukee students, staff and faculty protest in an encampment for a second day in support of Palestinian statehood on April 30, 2024. Evan Casey/WPR

Milwaukee-area Jewish groups and the Universities of Wisconsin President Jay Rothman are criticizing the deal UW-Milwaukee struck with pro-Palestinian protesters over the weekend.

Hillel Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, and ADL, or the Anti-Defamation League, Midwest issued a statement Tuesday afternoon calling UWM Chancellor Mark Mone’s agreement with protesters “among the most offensive and dangerous of any university agreement reached with encampment protesters over the last two weeks.”

UWM’s agreement with pro-Palestinian students called for a ceasefire in Gaza. The school also agreed not to ticket students for violating a law banning camping on campus property.

The Jewish groups said Mone’s agreement with protesters came after seven months of him “refusing to meet with Jewish students,” and failure to address antisemitic incidents on campus since the Oct. 7 war began when Hamas-led militant groups launched a surprise attack on Israel.

“Chancellor Mone gave protesters who fueled hate and violated school policies at UWM a seat at the table and even invited them to nominate individuals and faculty to serve on key university committees and working groups,” the statement says. “The chancellor’s decision to grant immunity to individuals who mocked and broke school rules and the law sets a dangerous precedent for future incidents on campus.”

Rothman called the UWM agreement “disappointing,” in a series of Tweets. 

“I am continuing to assess the decision-making process that led to this result,” Rothman said.

In a statement, UWM said it is deeply concerned by the comments made by Hillel Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, and is taking time to understand concerns before “responding comprehensively.”

“Separately, UWM is aware of the statement made by Universities of Wisconsin President Jay Rothman,” the statement says. “Chancellor Mone plans to address the process that led to the peaceful resolution of the encampment and other concerns in a broader statement soon.”

Water Council corrects false reports of Israeli involvement

The UWM agreement also also said the nonprofit Water Council — Mone serves as organization’s board treasurer — has “officially ceased relationships and cut all ties with both Mekorot and Israel Innovation Authority, two Israeli-government-owned water companies.”

The university statement said those companies have been accused of “cutting off access to drinking water for thousands of Palestinians in Gaza, exacerbating water scarcity.”

But a statement from the Water Council on Tuesday said the group has not had any activity with Mekorot and Israel Innovation Authority since 2019 and they were never members of the Water Council.

The Water Council has had no formal ties, ongoing projects or financial interests with any company or organization in Israel or the Middle East in recent history,” according to the statement. “Any insinuation that The Water Council’s inactivity with Mekorot and Israel Innovation Authority pertains to these accusations is false.”

The Water Council went on to say it has tried for months to correct the media’s misinformed characterization of the “relationships” with Israeli organizations.

Jewish groups, Rothman condemn UWM deal with pro-Palestinian protesters was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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3 thoughts on “Jewish Groups, Rothman Condemn UWM Deal with Pro-Palestinian Protestors”

  1. domnoth@gmail.com says:

    One of the most intriguing things that is exposed in this debate over student protests and what really is happening among Hamas, the Palestinian civilians and Isreali. The biggest split now is within the so-called liberal community, where anyone who defends Palestinians is savaaged by those supporting Isreal while those supporting Israel are also savaging those who speak of Israeli military misbehavior. I have longtime influential figures in the community who are friends radically split by their Facebook posts.

    The Water Council has become a clear example of the confusion, with Israeili companies that are not members being included in UWM statements, while UW chancellor is also attacking UWM chancellor, whose tolerance was praised in a recent Bruce Murphy column
    This human tension debate is going to be a big issue for Democrates leading in November voting.

  2. Duane says:

    So Palestininians recognize May 15th as Nakba Day (From Wikipedia),

    The Nakba was the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Mandatory Palestine during the 1948 Palestine war through their violent displacement and dispossession of land, property, and belongings, along with the destruction of their society, culture, identity, political rights, and national aspirations.
    During the Nakba in 1948, approximately half of Palestine’s predominantly Arab population, or around 750,000 people were expelled from their homes or made to flee, at first by Zionist paramilitaries through various violent means, and after the establishment of the State of Israel, by the Israel Defense Forces. This occurred in the wake of dozens of massacres targeting Palestinian Arabs and the depopulation of 500 Arab-majority towns and villages, with many of these being either completely destroyed or repopulated by Jews and given new Hebrew names. By the end of the war, 78% of the total land area of the former Mandatory Palestine was controlled by Israel and at least 15,000 Palestinian Arabs had been killed.

  3. 45 years in the City says:

    Inappropriate for President Rothman to publicly comment, especially on a platform like X. This is an internal matter between the UW System and UWM.

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