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February 10, 2012 Off

Anti-Israel Hostility Pervades Penn BDS Conference

The Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) con­fer­ence held at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia last week­end fea­tured speak­ers rep­re­sent­ing a wide range of strate­gies used to dele­git­imize Israel. As expected, many of the speak­ers pro­moted mis­truths and biased nar­ra­tives of the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict and offered strate­gies on how to advance BDS ini­tia­tives and to fur­ther dele­git­imize Israel.

Sev­eral of the anti-Israel activists who head­lined the Penn BDS con­fer­ence are sched­uled to next month’s One-State “Solu­tion” Con­fer­ence at Har­vard, includ­ing Ali Abunimah, Dalit Baum and Sarah Schulman.
Below is a sam­pling of state­ments made at the Penn con­fer­ence:
  • Omar Bargh­outi, co-founder of the Pales­tin­ian Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic and Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel, claimed that Israel is gov­erned by an “extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy” and that it is a “racist oppres­sor” and an “apartheid state.” Bargh­outi also made ref­er­ence to the dis­pro­por­tion­ate role “Israel’s lobby groups” play in the U.S., adding that “it is cru­cial to reveal how Israel is right at the cen­ter of the 1% agenda,” refer­ring to the Occupy Wall Street movement. 
  • Ali Abunimah, the founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor of “Elec­tronic Intifada,” an anti-Israel Web site,  report­edly said, “Nakba denial is the equiv­a­lent of Holo­caust denial.”
  • Pro­fes­sor Amy Kaplan, pro­fes­sor in the Eng­lish depart­ment at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, offered sug­ges­tions in a Q&A ses­sion on how BDS could be inte­grated into the class­room. Accord­ing to an audio record­ing of her response, Kaplan said, “you take a the­matic course and you bring in themes from this issue [BDS], and lit­er­a­ture is really a great way to teach stu­dents about what’s going on.”

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February 2, 2012 8

Two Days to the Penn BDS Conference

In advance of this weekend’s BDS con­fer­ence at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, we are high­light­ing five of the most anti-Israel indi­vid­u­als sched­uled to speak at the conference.

Today we pro­file Ali Abunimah, the founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor of “Elec­tronic Intifada,” an anti-Israel Web site. Abunimah is sched­uled to be the keynote speaker at this weekend’s conference.
In his book “One Coun­try: A Bold Pro­posal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse” and dur­ing var­i­ous speak­ing appear­ances, Abunimah advo­cates a one-state solu­tion to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, which would dis­man­tle the Jew­ish state. He has not hes­i­tated to com­pare Israel to South African apartheid and Nazi Ger­many, includ­ing describ­ing Gaza as a “ghetto” and a “con­cen­tra­tion camp” and argu­ing that “Zion­ism is not atone­ment for the Holo­caust, but its con­tin­u­a­tion in spirit.”
Abunimah also claims that many of Israel’s security-related poli­cies are pred­i­cated on racism and not gen­uine secu­rity con­cerns. For exam­ple, in a June 2011 inter­view on the news chan­nel Rus­sia Today, he claimed that Israel imposes a block­ade on Gaza “because they are not Jews” and described it as “fun­da­men­tally racist.”

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