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June 7, 2012

Anti-Israel Group Increases Outreach to High School Students

American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a Chicago-based anti-Israel organization, is planning to host a joint conference on “Palestine activism” with the High School Muslim Student Association of Southern California (HSMSA), an inter-high school network of Muslim student organizations.

The conference is scheduled to take place on June 24 at the University of California, Irvine, a center for virulently anti-Israel campus activity in recent years. It is part of AMP’s 7th annual campaign to commemorate the “Nakba,” an Arabic term that means “catastrophe” and is used by Palestinians and their supporters to describe Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

AMP organizers say the conference is designed to help “train high school, college, and non-student activists on issues pertinent to Palestine activism.” The list of speakers invited to “educate” students on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict include several anti-Israel activists known for their use of rhetoric to delegitimize Israel.

Speakers include Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the anti-Israel Electronic Intifada blog; Taher Herzallah, AMP’s National Campus Coordinator and one of the 11 students arrested for shouting down Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren during a 2010 speech at UC Irvine; and Osama Abu Irshaid, an AMP board member who has previously expressed support for Hezbollah and conspiratorially alleged that the U.S. government makes decisions based on the “influential Jewish community.”

AMP targeted high school students earlier this year when it held its first high school training session in Villa Park, Illinois. The workshop was similarly organized to the upcoming conference at UC Irvine and included workshops on subjects such as the Islamic significance of Palestine, activism, and how to utilize the media.

This year’s AMP Nakba campaign consists primarily of educational and training sessions designed to “raise awareness about the occupation” and to “help bring justice and liberty to the Holy Land.” These events will be held throughout the month of June across the Southern California region, which include the cities of Hawthorne, Corona-Narco, Anaheim, Temecula, and Lomita.

AMP has increasingly made an effort to engage in facilitating student activism on college campuses and high schools nationwide. The importance of encouraging AMP’s presence among students was the central theme of the organization’s 2011 national conference, where a number of sessions were dedicated to how students can discuss the issue of Palestine in schools and on campuses. AMP’s concerted effort to engage with students has led to increased collaboration with on campus anti-Israel groups, such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

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March 5, 2012

A Round-Up of Israeli Apartheid Week Events

With Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) drawing to a close in cities around the United States, here is a sampling of what took place on college campuses and elsewhere this past week:
  • Brandeis University: Ali Abunimah delivered a talk in which he discussed his support for a one-state solution and described Israel as a “sectarian government.” Abunimah was quoted saying: “The claim that Israel should be a Jewish state can be asserted, not defended—not legally, politically or ethically…Israel has reached a moral, political and ethical dead-end. The notion that Israel can be both Jewish and democratic violates the rights of Palestinians, which is fine if you don’t see Palestinians as humans, but, if you do, it is wrong.” He also offensively compared the Holocaust to the “Nakba,” a term Palestinians use to describe the 1948 War of Independence and the establishment of the state of Israel. He said, “We must condemn Nakba denial as strongly as we must condemn Holocaust denial.”
  • George Washington University: Members of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter tried to disrupt an event organized by GW’s pro-Israel organization MEOR. The event hosted a former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier, Sergeant Benjamin Anthony.
  • Columbia University: Members of SJP staged a “house demolition act” that was intended to mimic Israel’s demolition of illegal Palestinian homes. One of the activists argued that these demolitions are made possible by U.S. tax dollars and Columbia University’s investments, which fund “special Caterpillar bulldozers for Israel to demolish Palestinian homes.”
  • New York City: Approximately 100 members of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) gathered in the lobby of the LGBT Center to protest the Center’s decision not to host events related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [In March 2011, the Center had decided not to host an IAW event.] Protesters held signs that read “Stop Pinkwashing Israeli Apartheid” and “End Israeli Apartheid,” and accused the center of “succumbing to the outspoken in power” and “betray[ing] its historic mission.” After an hour indoors, the protest moved outside to the sidewalk.

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February 10, 2012

One-State “Solution” Conference to be Held at Harvard in March

Update: ADL welcomed Harvard University’s February 24 statement following receipt of a letter from ADL’s National Director to Harvard’s President, Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust. The Harvard University statement, which acknowledged ADL’s concerns, said in part: “We would never take a position on specific policy solutions to achieving peace in this region, and certainly would not endorse any policy that some argue could lead to the elimination of the Jewish State of Israel.” 

Just one month after the major

BDS conference at the University of Pennsylvania, a conference to examine the “possible contours” of a one-state “solution” is scheduled to take place at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government over the first weekend in March. 

The event will feature Stephen Walt, the co-author of the 2007 book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” which infamously asserted that the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. has excessive power and divided loyalties and uses its power to stifle criticism of Israel against America’s true interests. 
Walt is not the only anti-Israel academic who will speak at the conference. The list includes University of Exeter professor Ilan Pappe, Harvard Law School fellow Diana Buttu, Baylor University’s Marc Ellis and many others.  Several of the anti-Israel activists who headlined the Penn BDS conference will attend next month’s event as well, including Ali Abunimah, Dalit Baum and Sarah Schulman.
The conference program focuses on the inevitability of a one-state “solution” and strategies for overcoming the obstacles that might otherwise prevent it. Based on the speakers list and program, it seems likely that the messages propagated at both conferences will be virtually indistinguishable from one another with regard to their one-sided criticisms of Israel and lack of consideration for the complexity of the conflict.
One other thing to note: In contrast to last weekend’s BDS conference, the “One State” conference is receiving significant financial and institutional support from Harvard, including funding from two university departments, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Office of the Provost.

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