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December 3, 2014 9

Calls for Violence against Israel at Annual AMP Conference in Chicago

bannerCalls for vio­lence against Israel were heard at the 7th annual Amer­i­can Mus­lims for Pales­tine (AMP) con­fer­ence, which took place over Thanks­giv­ing week­end at the Hyatt Regency Hotel out­side of Chicago. The con­fer­ence, billed as “Ris­ing from Ashes: Gaza Teaches Life!,”  addressed a num­ber of top­ics, such as, “Do Occu­pied Peo­ple Have the Right to Resist their Occu­pa­tion?,” “Islama­pho­bia and Pales­tine,” and “Cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the chang­ing Amer­i­can sen­ti­ment toward Israeli aggression.”

AMP is the lead­ing orga­ni­za­tion pro­vid­ing anti-Zionist train­ing and edu­ca­tion to stu­dents and Mus­lim com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tions in the U.S and its con­fer­ence fea­tured a num­ber of U.S. and inter­na­tional anti-Israel activists as guest speak­ers, includ­ing Hatem Baz­ian, a co-founder of AMP; Josh Rubener, the National Advo­cacy Direc­tor for the US Cam­paign to End the Israeli Occu­pa­tion; and Rashid Kha­lidi, the Edward Said Pro­fes­sor of Mod­ern Arab Stud­ies at Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity and an Advi­sory Board mem­ber of the US Cam­paign to End the Israeli Occupation.

The most extreme com­ments at the con­fer­ence came from Taher Herza­l­lah, AMP’s national Cam­pus Coor­di­na­tor. Dur­ing his remarks, Herza­l­lah claimed that, “The State of Israel is a lie,” and spoke about how the “Israel lobby” works to ensure that Israel’s legit­i­macy is not chal­lenged. He also claimed that the focus of anti-Israel groups should be on the younger gen­er­a­tion and ended his com­ments with a call for vio­lence, stat­ing, “Israelis have to be bombed, they are a threat to the legit­i­macy of Pales­tine, and it is wrong to main­tain the State of Israel. It is an ille­git­i­mate cre­ation born from colo­nial­ism and racism.”

Mads Gilbert, a Nor­we­gian triage spe­cial­ist and pro­fes­sor of emer­gency med­i­cine who recently was banned from enter­ing Gaza by Israel, also sup­ported a call for vio­lence when claim­ing that the Nor­we­gian peo­ple do not sup­port Hamas or Fatah, but that they do “sup­port the fight with arms.” Gilberts, added that the strug­gle in Gaza is one against racism, apartheid, and polit­i­cal Zion­ism, and he also spoke pos­i­tively of rocket fire into Israel, claim­ing that, “When we heard of each rocket from Gaza [into Israel] that gave us hope and strength.”

One speaker, Sheikh Abdelfat­tah Mourou, a Tunisian lawyer who founded the Tunisian Islamic Ten­dency Move­ment, remarked that Israel was “defend­ing itself by killing inno­cents” dur­ing the most recent round of fight­ing between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. He also stated that, “When an Israeli pilot kills a fam­ily of 25, when he knows the head of Hamas is not home, it is shame­ful of the whole world to accept this claim of self-defense…The claim of Israeli secu­rity is a shame­ful one.”

Other speak­ers at the con­fer­ence dis­cussed the “Israel lobby” and its alleged role in “look­ing to pro­tect the Zion­ist nar­ra­tive.” Israeli anti-Zionist author Miko Peled claimed that the lobby stretches far and that, “There are spheres of Jew­ish influ­ence here in the U.S., like AIPAC and the Jew­ish Fed­er­a­tion.” Fol­low­ing Peled’s com­ments, Dima Kha­lidi, Direc­tor of Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Legal Sup­port and Coop­er­at­ing Coun­sel with the Cen­ter for Con­sti­tu­tional Rights, stated that, “Jew­ish Zion­ists are a pow­er­ful force, not just AIPAC.”

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December 2, 2014 1

Marginal Anti-Israel Group Alters Holocaust Photo to Condemn Israel

A Face­book group called “I Acknowl­edge Apartheid Exists,” with over 91,000 fans, recently posted a pho­to­shopped pic­ture of Holo­caust sur­vivors hold­ing signs that read “Stop the Holo­caust in Gaza,” “Gaza, the world’s biggest con­cen­tra­tion camp,” “Stop U.S. aid to Israel,” and “Break the silence on Gaza!!” Below the pic­ture was text that stated, “What­ever hap­pened to ‘Never again?’” [sic].i-acknowledge-apartheid-exists

The “I Acknowl­edge Apartheid Exists” group was founded on March 30, 2013 and its admin­is­tra­tors fre­quently post images that dele­git­imize Israel and describe it as a “ter­ror­ist nation.” Recent posts include an image that described the State of Israel as “Nazi Israel” and another that stated “End geno­cide in Gaza.” Other posts ended with hash­tags such as “#StopTheNazis” and “#StopIsrael.”

The group’s Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Direc­tor, Derek Hum­mel, told TheRealNews.com in an April 2013 inter­view that the page was briefly shut down by Face­book because of com­plaints that were sub­mit­ted by users who were offended by con­tent that the group was post­ing. He added that Face­book reversed the deci­sion shortly there­after and that a fan of the page had writ­ten to tell them that, “an army of Jews were out to dis­band our Face­book page.” Hum­mel claimed, “the very next day, we were shut down.”

Over the years, Holo­caust imagery has been used by many anti-Israel groups and indi­vid­u­als that look to make false com­par­isons between Israel and Nazi Ger­many in an effort to cast Israel as a demonic state that is bent on exter­mi­nat­ing the Pales­tin­ian peo­ple. Many exam­ples of this appeared dur­ing Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge when par­tic­i­pants at anti-Israel ral­lies and demon­stra­tions held signs with slo­gans like “From Auschwitz to Pales­tine, My Ances­tors are Cry­ing…” and “Doesn’t the Holo­caust teach us that it must never hap­pen to any­one ever again?” In addi­tion, par­tic­i­pants at some of those ral­lies held signs show­ing the design of the Israeli flag with a swastika replac­ing the Star of David or the pic­ture of Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu wear­ing a swastika arm­band.

houston-holocaust-museum

Com­par­ing Israelis to Nazis dur­ing a protest in front of the Holo­caust Museum in Hous­ton, Jan­u­ary 16, 2009. Source: Jew­ish Herald-Voice, Houston

Pro­test­ers at anti-Israel ral­lies that took place dur­ing Israel’s Oper­a­tion Pil­lar of Defense in Novem­ber 2012 also used sim­i­lar rhetoric, call­ing for an end to “the Nazi occu­pa­tion of Gaza,” describ­ing Gaza as today’s “War­saw Ghetto” and accus­ing Israel of com­mit­ting a geno­cide and mas­sacre of the Pales­tin­ian peo­ple. That sort of rhetoric was also used dur­ing ral­lies and demon­stra­tions that fol­lowed Oper­a­tion Cast Lead.

One of those exam­ples took place in Hous­ton where the Hous­ton Coali­tion for Jus­tice and Peace staged anti-Israel protests and demon­stra­tions around the city. At one of those ral­lies, which took place out­side of the Holo­caust Museum in Hous­ton, par­tic­i­pants wore mock con­cen­tra­tion camp pris­oner uni­forms and looked to charge Israel with the crime of “geno­cide” against the Palestinians.

Stu­dent groups have also used Holo­caust imagery to con­demn Israel and its sup­port­ers on many occa­sions. An exam­ple of this took place less than a month ago when the Uni­ver­sity of Cen­tral Florida’s Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (UCF SJP) chap­ter posted a graphic on their Face­book page that showed a face with a swastika talk­ing to what appears to be a face with an Israeli flag. The face with the swastika said, “You aren’t a real human race! DIE!” and below it was a sim­i­lar pic­ture that showed a face with an Israeli flag talk­ing to a face with a Pales­tin­ian flag, stat­ing, “You aren’t a real human race! DIE!” Above the image, UCF SJP wrote, “His­tory, unfor­tu­nately, has repeated itself.”

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November 26, 2014 4

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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