My name is Morgan Taylor, and I am the President of Montclair Christians United For Israel (CUFI). We are a class IV organization of the SGA. Our purpose for existing as an organization can be defined in our name.
We are Christians, in that our organization is a religious and cultural based organization. We are united, in that we strive to promote unity, diversity and positivity through unique programming and by cosponsoring with other organizations on campus. We are for Israel, in that we seek to educate the campus community about the positive impacts that Israel has on the world. In other words, our organization is all about uniting and educating the campus community about all the great things that are coming out of Israel.
Bill #S2017-370, better known as the Israel Boycott bill, proposed the exact opposite of what CUFI stands for as an organization. Where our organization strives to unite, this bill strived to divide. Where our organization strives to educate, this bill spread lies about Israel.
At its essence, the Israel Boycott bill was discriminatory. If adopted, professors who are of Israeli origin would not have be allowed to lecture on campus. The bill also threatened study abroad opportunities and academic collaborations with Israeli universities, including Kibbutzim College and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. The bill, therefore, was in direct contrast to the Montclair State University mission statement that calls for the free exchange of ideas. If this this bill had passed, it may have led to future, even bigger anti-Israel activity on campus.
The bill called for an academic and economic boycott of Israel until a peace and equality between Israelis and Palestinians could be reached. However, this bill did not articulate any plan of bringing peace to the region; it would have only fueled more conflict. Opposing this bill does not mean that we oppose Palestinian human rights. It simply means that we believe Palestinians can have justice and human rights without forcing the Jewish people to become a stateless minority. It means that we value the power of open conversation between both people groups.
The accusations of apartheid, inequality, and discrimination in this bill were very misleading. I have been to Israel. I have seen Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Galilee and the West Bank with my own eyes. Israel is not an apartheid state. Israel is a vibrant democracy where Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze, Ba’hai and other religious and ethnic minorities all live together as neighbors.
When I went to Israel, I visited Save a Child’s Heart, an organization that provides life-saving heart surgeries for children across the Middle East, regardless of their faith, ethnicity or origin – at no cost to their families. Many of the children treated at Save a Child’s Heart are Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank. This demonstrates the unity and diversity of Israel.
As a student at Montclair State University and as president of CUFI, I am very thankful and appreciative of the SGA Legislative Branch for opposing the Israel Boycott bill. By listening to the voice of the student body, listening to the voices in the room and listening to their conscience, the legislature upheld the ideals of academic freedom, the free exchange of ideas and the democratic process.