Ilan Sinelnikov, a senior at the University of Minnesota told The Algemeiner Thursday that anti-Semitism and anti-Israel hatred by a boycott advocate was behind his being barred from candidacy for an administrative position at the school.
“I got accepted to the job, I got hired, in 4th place out of 21 other candidates,” for the role of financial administrator on the student services committee, according to the business and marketing major.
The 22-year-old Rehovot native, and the others were then to then be voted on by the undergraduate Student Association, and then by the graduate body, to receive final approval.
The body oversees some $30 million for 800 different student groups. The body makes recommendations to the Board of Regents on distributing the funds, which then decides on whether to implement the recommendations.
Enter Damien Carriere, the student representative to the board, and a well-known BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) campus activist.
“As soon as he heard that an Israeli – who established the Students Supporting Israel (SSI) group – got the position, he started a poisonous campaign against me,” Sinelnikov said.
“We’re talking about hundreds of emails; we’re talking about calling SSI a ‘hate group,’ and comparing us to the Ku Klux Klan, and even saying that my English was not good enough to serve on the committee,” Sinelnikov noted.
Sinelnikov came to UM four years ago to study marketing. Eight months ago, seeing the growing wave of anti-Israel activities flourishing on his and other campuses nationally, Sinelnikov and Valeria Chazin founded SSI at UM.
The grassroots social network has grown to 24 campuses in the US and Canada, and serves as a focal point for beleaguered Israel advocates battling BDS and a bevy of aggressive,hostile, and increasingly violent anti-Israel groups.
“[Ilan Sinelnikov] is a member of a hate group (SSI) and I think he comes in with a fishy agenda,” Carriere wrote in an email quoted on Wednesday in Campus Reform.
Sinelnikov charged that Carriere’s goal was to “cut him off, no matter what it takes,” from getting the role. When it came to a discussion by student representatives in a several week-long process, “I was the only person, out of 21 people, singled out – I was the only one they tried to remove,” from the running in the undergrad level vote.
Last week, the decision came to a vote again. “I wasn’t there, I never got invited,” nor were any other SSI representatives. The body voted 14 to six (with 11 abstentions) to eject Sinelnikov from the committee slate, although the final graduate level vote remains to be held.
Convinced that he was ruled out “because of my political beliefs, my support for Israel, and that I’m an Israeli,” Sinelnikov said, “It’s good that it happened to me, because I’m sure this happens in a lot of other places,” and promised that SSI would fight to overturn the decision and regain his candidacy.
“The undergraduate students completely support me, including the president of the body and the whole leadership,” he said, adding that “the woman who hired me is a supporter and will be trying to overturn the decision,” and will support Sinelnikov before the dean.
In addition to the administrative steps, and pushing the fight for the job out on social media, he’s also planning to take the battle to his enemies’ gate: “to keep Damien from any positions within the University of Minnesota.
“There’s no way that someone who singles out Jews and Israelis and people with my political opinions can be a representative to the Board of Regents,” Sinelnikov vowed.
The open hostility and activities against Israel and Jews are “definitely getting worse and worse,” he said. “We see it every day with decisions that are being taken across the country regarding BDS.
“The journey is not easy – it’s bad – but, finally, there is a grassroots organization on college campuses called Students Supporting Israel,” he concluded.
Watch a clip of Sinelnikov speaking at a pro-Israel event: