University Sponsorship Of Anti-Israel Programs On The Rise » ADL Blogs
News & Analysis Focusing Primarily on Issues Affecting Israel
February 27, 2013 1

University Sponsorship Of Anti-Israel Programs On The Rise

Update 3/14/13:  Two more uni­ver­si­ties in Michi­gan plan to host anti-Israel pro­grams in the next few days. Naim Ateek, the founder and direc­tor of the Sabeel Ecu­meni­cal Lib­er­a­tion The­ol­ogy Cen­ter in Jerusalem, is sched­uled to speak at West­ern Michi­gan Uni­ver­sity and Grand Val­ley State Uni­ver­sity.

In recent years, the num­ber of highly politi­cized anti-Israel pro­grams that have been spon­sored by uni­ver­sity depart­ments has increased quite dra­mat­i­cally. To date, 22 anti-Israel events have been spon­sored by uni­ver­si­ties and/or aca­d­e­mic depart­ments across the U.S. dur­ing the cur­rent school year. In the 2011-12 school year, the total was 10; and in the school year before that, it was just five.

The university-sponsored event that has received the most atten­tion was the Boycott Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) event at Brook­lyn Col­lege three weeks ago. But other events that are almost as con­tro­ver­sial have got­ten much less atten­tion. Miko Peled – an Israeli who advo­cates for BDS cam­paigns against Israel, calls for a one-state solu­tion and holds Israel cul­pa­ble for Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ism – has been spon­sored by aca­d­e­mic depart­ments at the Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and Haver­ford Col­lege in Penn­syl­va­nia in recent months. Peled, a draw as an anti-Israel speaker because of his nation­al­ity, has also been invited to speak at Cen­tral Con­necti­cut State Uni­ver­sity in two weeks.  His pre­sen­ta­tion there is being spon­sored by the Inter­na­tional & Area Stud­ies Com­mit­tee and Peace Stud­ies, two inter­dis­ci­pli­nary pro­grams at the university.

In his recently pub­lished book, The General’s Son: Jour­nal of an Israeli in Pales­tine, Peled calls Gaza an “enor­mous con­cen­tra­tion camp,” an inac­cu­rate and offen­sive effort to cheapen the mem­ory of the Holocaust.

While not all anti-Israel speak­ers that have been spon­sored by aca­d­e­mic depart­ments hold views as hos­tile as Peled’s, many use the oppor­tu­nity to call for out-and-out anti-Israel advo­cacy like BDS, which ren­ders the sup­port they receive from aca­d­e­mic depart­ments even more rep­re­hen­si­ble. Some of these events have drawn con­tro­versy in the past, includ­ing the “one-state solu­tion” con­fer­ence at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity last year (which was spon­sored by the Weath­er­head Cen­ter for Inter­na­tional Affairs and the Office of the Provost) and a March 2011 con­fer­ence at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Hast­ings Col­lege of the Law called “Lit­i­gat­ing Pales­tine: Can Courts Secure Pales­tin­ian Rights.” Although the title of the con­fer­ence sounded benign, the con­fer­ence was actu­ally meant to be a strat­egy ses­sion about ways to bring Israel to the Inter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC), issue arrest war­rants for Israeli diplo­mats trav­el­ing abroad, and engage in inter­na­tional BDS campaigns.

The approx­i­mately two dozen university-sponsored anti-Israel events this school year have also included per­for­mances by Remi Kanazi, an anti-Israel poet who is a leader of the BDS move­ment; a panel dis­cus­sion fea­tur­ing only anti-Israel speak­ers talk­ing about how the “Jewish-American rela­tion­ship with Israel” is at a “cross­roads;” and a screen­ing of a new film called “Roadmap to Apartheid,” which analo­gizes Pales­tin­ian refugees to Jews in the War­saw Ghetto and par­tially con­dones ter­ror­ism as a “symp­tom” of the conflict.

  • Eric

    The ADL will con­tinue to sup­port and pro­tect Israel, irre­spec­tive of what atroc­i­ties it com­mits in occu­pied Palestine.