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Ethics probe launched against Jewish student who criticized pro-Palestinian campus display

A Jewish University of Michigan student faces an ethics investigation for aggressively questioning peers who set up a pro-Palestinian display in the middle of the quad, and he may be removed from his student government position if found guilty.

Student Jesse Arm, a Central Student Government representative, confronted student peers who set up the pro-Palestinian display on Nov. 19 after his friend, an American Jewish student studying in Israel, was killed by a Palestinian gunman earlier that day.

A visibly upset Arm called the display inappropriate and biased, and told a JesseArmfellow male student to take it down, according to a video of the incident shown at a student government meeting last week. Arm never gets violent nor physical during the confrontation.

(Jesse Arm/Twitter screenshot)

Arm is scheduled to appear before the student government’s ethics committee on Monday, Nov. 30. That committee is charged with investigating any potential ethical violations within the student government.

Arm declined to comment to The College Fix prior to his hearing, but stated in his defense at last week’s Central Student Government meeting that “if it is unethical for a representative of CSG to challenge any student protester, then it should also be the case that it is unethical for a representative of CSG to partake in a protest that might not represent the views of all students.”

SAFE, a campus group that aims to promote justice for Palestinians, hosted the controversial display and also has representatives serving on the student government. SAFE’s members are the ones who have called on the ethics committee to remove Arm from his public role on campus over the confrontation, the Michigan Daily reports.

The display in question showcased two mock 8-by-12-foot walls that represented the 25-foot security wall separating Israel from the West Bank. On UMichWall2one wall, an image of a dove with a sniper’s crosshair aimed at its chest was emblazoned just under a portrait of barbed wire. Student demonstrators dressed as Israeli soldiers play acted with interested students in an attempt to illustrate what it would be like to try to get through the checkpoint if they were Palestinians.

In response, Arm, in very close proximity to the male student demonstrator, said: “You want to hold a moment of silence, you ought to take a moment and recognize that if you want peace to ever happen, it’s going to have to happen with people who understand the situation and who are going to be delicate about it. … So take that thing down about ‘existing to resist’ and say ‘exist for peace,'” according to the video shown at last week’s CSG meeting.

“You’re not serious,” Arm added, when the student refused. An onlooker can be heard saying, “We’ll take it down when they take down the actual wall.” Another student can be heard saying, “Oh my God … do you see how racist he’s being?” referring to Arm.

Arm, in his defense at the meeting, said he was upset over “the taste, timing, and appropriateness of this display in light of all the recent terrorism that has befallen Western civilization over the last few weeks, particularly in Israel.”

The same day as the display, two terror attacks took place in Israel. Victims included three Israelis, a Palestinian man, and an American Jewish student studying abroad.

“That American student was a contemporary of mine from my community with whom I shared many mutual friends,” Arm had said. “He was abroad on a gap year program that I seriously considered attending before eventually electing to enroll at Michigan. His story was my story.”

In response, SAFE members said Arm demonstrated “conduct unbecoming of a regular student, let alone a CSG representative,” the Daily reports.

“For you to think you have some type of right to come up to us and vent in that way is irresponsible. Palestinians deal with this sort of abuse every single day,” said SAFE member Devin Jones, adding his organization could not have foreseen the terrorist attacks that took place on the same day as their demonstration, which was planned months in advance.

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About the Author
Deion Kathawa -- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor