May 10, 2019
News Press Release

ZOA Criticizes Williams President Mandel’s Weak and Insulting Response To Discrimination Against Pro-Israel Student Group

Williams College in Massachusetts. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Last week, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) wrote to Williams College, urging the administration to condemn the Williams College Council’s discriminatory and unlawful decision to reject the Williams Initiative For Israel (WIFI) as a Registered Student Organization (RSO).  Today, the ZOA criticized Williams President Maud Mandel for her weak and insulting response to the College Council’s bigoted decision.

In a May 3 statement, President Mandel acknowledged that in rejecting WIFI’s RSO application, the College Council did not “follow its own processes and bylaws.”  In addition, she admitted that the College Council’s decision to reject the pro-Israel student group “was made on political grounds.”

ZOA calls on President Maud Mandel to acknowledge the anti-Semitic bigotry of the College Council and correct the injustice right away.”

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein criticized President Maud Mandel’s response and called on her to exercise moral leadership by addressing the discrimination against WIFI:  “Calling the College Council’s decision ‘political’ is inaccurate.  The decision was anti-Semitic, because it targeted and rejected WIFI based on the group’s mission to support the Jewish state of Israel and the pro-Israel campus community.  Furthermore, expressing “disappointment’ was hardly enough.  President Mandel should have condemned the College Council’s discrimination and remedied it.  She has the authority to grant WIFI the RSO recognition it deserves. 

“In addition, President Mandel should have condemned the anti-Semitism expressed at College Council meetings at which WIFI’s RSO application was considered.  We understand that students who spoke there questioned Israel’s very right to exist and falsely accused Israel of ‘genocidal’ and ‘apartheid’ policies.  The suggestion that there is a genocide is ridiculous; the Palestinian Arab population is dramatically increasing.  Equally outrageous is the accusation that Israel is an apartheid state.  Israel is a democracy where Arabs and Jews have equal rights and Arabs are represented in the government, on the judiciary, and in all areas of society.  President Mandel didn’t even mention the students’ anti-Semitism in the statement she issued.

“President Mandel believes it’s enough that WIFI ‘can continue to exist and operate’ even without being an RSO.  It’s not enough.  In fact, suggesting that the group settle for something less than what it’s entitled to is insulting.  WIFI won’t have the access to funding that RSO’s are afforded, and there is value in a group being able to say that it’s been recognized as a registered student organization.  President Mandel’s response is reminiscent of the separate but equal doctrine that our country fortunately rejected because separate is not equal at all.

“As President Mandel admitted, WIFI was denied RSO recognition for one illegitimate reason – because the group supports Israel.  ZOA calls on President Maud Mandel to acknowledge the anti-Semitic bigotry of the College Council and correct the injustice right away.”