Tufts pro-Israel Jewish student government member no longer facing impeachment

JTA — An attempt to remove a pro-Israel Jewish activist from his student government position at Tufts University has been withdrawn.

The effort had drawn media attention as well as concern from Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League. The pro-Israel group StandWithUs also expressed concern about the case, which represented the latest campus clash between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine students.

Max Price, a member of the Tufts Community Union Judiciary, a student governing body at the Boston-area school, was set to face an impeachment hearing Sunday due to a complaint demanding his ouster submitted by the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

SJP claimed that Price violated student government bylaws because he was part of the committee that authorized a recent campus referendum condemning US police delegations to Israel. While the referendum was being reviewed in November, Price served as co-president of Tufts Friends of Israel, and he had publicly opposed the SJP campaign earlier that year. It was not immediately clear whether Price voted for or against the referendum.

Illustrative: Northeastern University students protest after Students for Justice in Palestine was temporarily suspended by the university, March 18, 2014. (AP/Stephan Savoia)

Price said his position in the pro-Israel group did not impinge on his student government duties, and that SJP’s campaign against him constituted anti-Semitic discrimination. The student judiciary had also voted that he did not need to recuse himself, though subsequently the head of the judiciary muted him during a meeting on the SJP referendum.

But on Friday, according to a university spokesperson, SJP withdrew its complaint, thus canceling the impeachment hearing. Price confirmed that the complaint had been withdrawn.

“While I’m relieved to no longer have my Judaism on trial, it does not absolve SJP of their responsibility, nor the administration in their negligence in allowing this to transpire,” Price told JTA on Friday afternoon.

The university spokesperson, Patrick Collins, told JTA that the university “take[s] very seriously any concerns raised by students — regardless of their backgrounds and perspectives — of bias, safety, privacy and intimidation, whether by organizations affiliated or unaffiliated with Tufts.”

Alyza Lewin, an attorney from the Brandeis Center, a pro-Israel legal defense group that complained to the university on Price’s behalf, said the withdrawal was the result of media coverage.

“The reporting, the questioning, that ended up as a result of this coming out in the open forced them to backtrack and we’re grateful that the hearing is not taking place,” Lewin said. “I hope that the university will respond and work with us.”

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