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November 26, 2014 0

California Campuses See Increase in Anti-Israel Activity

The doc­u­mented increase in anti-Israel activ­ity so far this aca­d­e­mic year has been most appar­ent in Cal­i­for­nia, which has seen a sig­nif­i­cant increase in the num­ber of sched­uled anti-Israel events.

Since the begin­ning of the aca­d­e­mic year, there have been 40 anti-Israel events sched­uled to take place on col­lege cam­puses com­pared to the 15 events sched­uled dur­ing that same time period last year.ucla-divest-bds

These events, which are fre­quently spon­sored by groups like Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) and Jew­ish Voice for Peace (JVP), have addressed how to ini­ti­ate Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions cam­paigns against Israel and often attempt to bring atten­tion to their activism by couch­ing their hos­til­ity towards Israel in social jus­tice terms, link­ing the con­flict in Gaza to other unre­lated issues.

Just this week, for exam­ple, the UCLA stu­dent gov­ern­ment endorsed “A Res­o­lu­tion to Divest from Cor­po­ra­tions Engaged in Vio­lence against Pales­tini­ans.” The res­o­lu­tion, which was sub­mit­ted by UCLA SJP, calls for the uni­ver­sity to divest from 11 cor­po­ra­tions, includ­ing Boe­ing, Cater­pil­lar, Cement Road­stone Hold­ings, Cemex, Gen­eral Dynam­ics, Gen­eral Elec­tric, Hewlett Packard, Lock­heed Mar­tin, Northrop Grum­man, Raytheon, and United Tech­nolo­gies. Although the res­o­lu­tion was passed under the pre­text that those cor­po­ra­tions vio­late Pales­tin­ian human rights, none of those com­pa­nies listed are actu­ally engaged in vio­lence against Palestinians.

Other exam­ples of the types of events that Cal­i­for­nia uni­ver­si­ties have hosted so far this semes­ter include:

  • Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), a week­long series of anti-Israel events which usu­ally occurs on cam­puses in the Spring, took place at UC River­side from Novem­ber 17–20, 2014. IAW at UC River­side fea­tured four events, which included a “die-in” and a per­for­mance by Remi Kanazi, an Orga­niz­ing Com­mit­tee mem­ber of the US Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic & Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel, who uses spo­ken word and poetry to pro­mote anti-Israel ini­tia­tives like divest­ment and a one-state solution.
  •  A lec­ture deliv­ered by Ali­son Weir at San Diego State Uni­ver­sity titled “The hid­den his­tory behind the US & Israel,” based on her most recent book, in which she claims that sup­port­ers of Israel have exer­cised undue con­trol over Amer­i­can soci­ety for “over a hun­dred years.”

Although anti-Israel activ­ity is not a new phe­nom­e­non on cam­puses in Cal­i­for­nia, this year’s increase is not a sur­prise, as it fol­lows 47 anti-Israel demon­stra­tions that occurred in Cal­i­for­nia dur­ing Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge.  Many of these demon­stra­tions were co-sponsored by stu­dent groups like the Gen­eral Union of Pales­tine Stu­dents (GUPS) at San Fran­cisco State Uni­ver­sity and var­i­ous SJP chap­ters through­out the state. At sev­eral demon­stra­tions, par­tic­i­pants held signs that com­pared the State of Israel to Nazi Ger­many and at a demon­stra­tion in San Fran­cisco, par­tic­i­pants burned an Israeli flag.

Addi­tion­ally, in late Sep­tem­ber, Amer­i­can Mus­lims for Pales­tine (AMP), the lead­ing orga­ni­za­tion pro­vid­ing anti-Zionist train­ing and edu­ca­tion to col­lege stu­dents through­out the coun­try, began the aca­d­e­mic year with a call for an “Inter­na­tional Day of Action on Col­lege Cam­puses,” advo­cat­ing for a vari­ety of BDS-related ini­tia­tives in an effort to iso­late and demo­nize Israel and Jew­ish com­mu­nal orga­ni­za­tions. ADL doc­u­mented only ten “Day of Action” demon­stra­tions in the U.S. with three hav­ing taken place at Cal­i­for­nia uni­ver­si­ties such as Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity, San Jose State Uni­ver­sity, and UC Berkeley.

Even with the rise in anti-Israel activ­ity on many cam­puses in Cal­i­for­nia, most Jew­ish and pro-Israel stu­dents report feel­ing com­fort­able to express their reli­gious and polit­i­cal beliefs at their schools.  While anti-Semitism does occur too often at col­leges through­out the coun­try, gen­er­ally respect is the norm, and anti-Jewish big­otry is not openly tol­er­ated.  This mes­sage is often con­veyed by uni­ver­sity admin­is­tra­tions, who are on the front lines of the strug­gle to com­bat hate on cam­pus while bal­anc­ing free speech, aca­d­e­mic free­dom, and main­tain­ing uni­ver­si­ties as the “mar­ket­places of ideas” simultaneously.

An exam­ple of this occurred after a very divi­sive and dif­fi­cult quar­ter on the UCLA cam­pus in the Spring of 2014 sur­round­ing the Israel-Palestinian issue. At that time, UCLA Chan­cel­lor Gene Block issued a state­ment on The Impor­tance of Civil Dis­course, remind­ing the cam­pus com­mu­nity that “Polit­i­cal speech that stig­ma­tizes or casts asper­sions on indi­vid­u­als or par­tic­u­lar groups does not pro­mote healthy debate but debases it by try­ing to intim­i­date indi­vid­u­als and groups… [I]f we lis­ten only to those who already share our assump­tions, truth gets lost, our intel­lec­tual cli­mate is impov­er­ished and our com­mu­nity is diminished.”

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November 25, 2014 0

Music Videos Enhance Violent Anti-Jewish Messages Online

Songs and music videos using the recent wave of ter­ror­ist attacks in Israel to glo­rify the attacks and encour­age more vio­lence are part of a larger online phe­nom­e­non where indi­vid­u­als cel­e­brate and pro­mote ter­ror­ism through pop­u­lar memes, graph­ics and videos.

Screenshot from "Runaway oh Zionist"

Screen­shot from “Run­away oh Zionist”

An ani­mated music video uploaded to YouTube on Novem­ber 18 called “Run­away oh Zion­ist” is an explicit ref­er­ence to the recent “run-over” car attacks in Israel.The song, pre­formed in Hebrew with Ara­bic and Hebrew sub­ti­tles, says, “Run­away oh you Zion­ist, Runaway…Minutes, and a car will run over you” and depicts a Jew­ish man singing about run­ning away from cars. In the part of the video where the Jew­ish man gets hit by a car at a bus sta­tion and thrown into a ceme­tery, the lyrics are, “A car will attack you from each direc­tion to give you a ride to the grave.” The song closes with “Run­away Zion­ists because you will be killed by all means.”

The video, which has received more than 98,000 views, was praised by Hezbollah’s media arm, Al Manar which stated, “the melody of this short video is very apt, and the ani­ma­tion is highly pro­fes­sional which indi­cates a qual­ity boom for the ‘resis­tance’ art in the Occu­pied Ter­ri­tory [Palestine].”

Another song cir­cu­lat­ing online titled “Run-over this set­tler” is per­formed by a Pales­tin­ian duo. The song includes the lyrics “Pre­pare your ambush on the road, run-over them; may god help you.” It also praises Abdul­rah­man al-Shaloudi, the ter­ror­ist who rammed his car into a group of Israeli pedes­tri­ans last month, killing a baby and a young woman. One lyric says that he “Ran-over a Jew­ish settler…did it, with his lim­ited resources, for his coun­try.” The lyrics also callupon Pales­tini­ans to “wait for them at the inter­sec­tion, let the set­tler sink in the red blood. Ter­rify them don’t be mer­ci­ful.” Jordan-based Al Yarmuk satel­lite TV sta­tion aired the song on its chan­nel as well.

Var­i­ous YouTube users have cre­ated their own videos and made use of this song as well, bring­ing the total num­ber of views for this song to more than 260,000.

Sim­i­lar user gen­er­ated con­tent began cir­cu­lat­ing online within min­utes of the bru­tal ter­ror attack that killed five peo­ple in a Jerusalem syn­a­gogue. In addi­tion to those images and car­toons glo­ri­fy­ing the attack, another song, titled “The one who knocks the door will hear the answer” was uploaded to YouTube by the pop­u­lar Pales­tin­ian singer Qasim Al-Najar. The song received more than 154,000 views in the first sev­eral days. The song’s lyrics urge Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu “to col­lect his Rab­bis,” warn­ing that when Jerusalem revolts it will slaugh­ter the settlers.

The Pop­u­lar Front for the Lib­er­a­tion of Pales­tine, which claimed respon­si­bil­ity for the Syn­a­gogue attack, also released a video on YouTube titled “With a butcher’s knife, a gun, and an Iron will.” The song says “oh set­tler, this is your destiny…your death is inevitable.” The song also praises the Pop­u­lar Front and describes its mem­bers as “walk­ing in defi­ance over death and slaugh­ter­ing them [Israelis] like sheep.”

The PFLP’s song has attracted only 5,800 view­ers on YouTube, which fur­ther attests to the sig­nif­i­cance of user gen­er­ated con­tent to spread mes­sages of vio­lence and anti-Semitism.

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November 24, 2014 0

Presbyterians Against Divestment

New York Times Ad

New York Times Ad

A full page ad in the New York Times on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 21 stated “Pres­by­te­ri­ans: We can do bet­ter than divest­ment.”  The ad, endorsed by over one hun­dred lead­ers of the Pres­by­ter­ian Church (USA) and spon­sored by Pres­by­te­ri­ans for a Just and Peace­ful Future in the Mid­dle East, is a response to the nar­row deci­sion (310–303) by the PC(USA) Gen­eral Assem­bly this past sum­mer to divest from three Amer­i­can com­pa­nies who con­duct busi­ness with Israel in the West Bank, a deci­sion the ADL deplored.

The ad calls for Pres­by­te­ri­ans to “reclaim the church’s role as ‘repair­ers of the breach’” between them­selves and other reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties, “to reaf­firm boldly the church’s com­mit­ment to two-state solu­tion,” and “to seek oppor­tu­ni­ties in Pales­tine, Israel, and between Israelis and Pales­tini­ans for proac­tive investment.”

Polling data con­sis­tently show that “main­line” Protes­tants over­whelm­ingly sup­port a safe and secure Israel, even while also being con­cerned about the sit­u­a­tion of Pales­tini­ans in the West Bank and Gaza.  The efforts at the PC(USA) and other churches to pass divest­ment res­o­lu­tions reflect the views of a minor­ity of activists within those churches who take advan­tage of the struc­tures of those churches to press their agenda.

ADL hopes this ad will pro­mote exactly the kind of respect­ful dis­cus­sion and col­lab­o­ra­tion for which it calls, as well as serve to encour­age oth­ers within the PC(USA) and other main­line Protes­tant churches who have con­sid­ered divest­ment res­o­lu­tions to look for con­struc­tive ini­tia­tives that pro­mote Israeli-Palestinian coop­er­a­tion and  reconciliation.

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