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February 10, 2012 0

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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