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ASMSU presidential candidate receives backlash from Jewish Student Union member

April 18, 2023
Presidential candidate Zaaki Mandwee, speaking at the ASMSU presidential debate, held at the Student Services Building on Apr. 17, 2023.
Presidential candidate Zaaki Mandwee, speaking at the ASMSU presidential debate, held at the Student Services Building on Apr. 17, 2023. —
Photo by Denille Reid | The State News

In light of presidential elections for the Associated Students of MSU, there has been much contention surrounding candidate pre-med junior Zaaki Mandwee

This comes after Mandwee attempted to reintroduce a bill that condemned human rights violations being committed against the people of Palestine by the Israeli Defense forces

Jewish Student Union ASMSU representative Matthew Zivian said this bill would have put many Jewish students at risk.

“Any bill across every college campus in America that tries to condemn the state of Israel for any reason always results in the attack of Jewish students on campus,” Zivian said. “Some bills could have fully factual information about their government and some do not.”

Zivian said that a bill mentioning colonization, apartheid or genocide is directly harmful to the legitimacy of Jewish history, because using such words imply that Jewish people are not indigenous to that land.

“Through traditional and archaeological evidence, that is false and denies the history of Jewish people,” Zivian said. “Even criticisms that a lot of people would say are fair about Israel, still people take that as an opportunity to publicly harass Jewish students who support the state of Israel.” 

However, Mandwee noted the bill was one ASMSU had passed before.

“For them to blatantly state that my bill was for the preservation of human rights abuses is antisemitic in itself, because they’re basically … equating the state of Israel with Jewish people to begin with,” Mandwee said. “There are plenty of Jewish and Semitic people, me being one of them, who are not in support of the occupation that is going on. Just because … you don’t (support) the action of oppressive governments, it doesn’t mean you equate an entire group of people to a country.” 

Flyers were distributed on campus accusing Mandwee of feeding into harmful attacks on MSU’s Jewish community

In a written public comment to ASMSU, political theory and constitutional democracy senior Nathan Bryson said Mandwee “has repeatedly displayed antisemitic beliefs and thus … does not represent all MSU students.” Veterinary medicine senior Megan Jones similarly called for “solid, respectful and honest leadership.”

Mandwee said as a representative, he was treated with hostility. He said ASMSU should have investigated the flyers and determined who was responsible to ensure a fair race.

Following James Madison College representative Shaurya Pandya's decision to drop out of the ASMSU presidential election, the race is now between social relations and policy senior Emily Hoyumpa and Mandwee. The elections started at 7 p.m. today.

Zivian said prioritizing the safety of Jewish students is immensely important and, to him, reflects very heavily on what he thinks of presidential candidates.

“The Israel-Palestine conflict has no business being anywhere near ASMSU,” Zivian said. “There is not a student government in the world that can solve the complexities of that issue, nor is it equipped with the people who are properly educated on the matter.”

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