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April 1, 2015

50% of Anti-Israel Events in Illinois on Three Campuses

Anti-Israel activity on university and college campuses in Illinois has remained steady over the last two years with student-groups actively working to promote Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel and false allegations such as that Israel is an apartheid state.

Tweets from pro-BDS students during and after the BDS vote at Loyola University.

Since September 2013, more than 70 anti-Israel events have taken place on university and college campuses in Illinois and over 50% of those events were held on three campuses: Loyola University-Chicago, DePaul University, and Northwestern University. So far this year, there have been two divestment resolutions passed by student governments at Loyola University and Northwestern University and 25 anti-Israel events have either taken place or been scheduled on Illinois campuses.

Leading up to the BDS vote at Loyola University, there was a week-long program called “Loyola Divestment Week,” which featured several events promoting BDS and the “Loyola Divest” campaign. Examples of those events included discussions about divestment, a “Palestine 101” session which provided historical context about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a conversation titled “Reclaiming Our Voices through Social Activism.”

ADL described the Loyola Divest effort as “misguided” and stated that it will likely serve to “divide and polarize the campus community.”

The polarizing effect of the resolution could be witnessed during the voting session and after its passage, as students reacted on Twitter with the hashtag “#LoyolaDivest.” One student remarked during the vote that there were a “handful of privileged white people on one side of room” and that the “rest of humanity [was] on [the] other.” Another student echoed that tweet and wrote “Never understood ‘white tears’ more than now –white jewish students are ‘uncomfortable’ while the Palestinians are suffocating,” and another student celebrated that the campus Hillel allegedly lost members “because #divestment made them uncomfortable and afraid,” stating that, “That’s a win for #LoyolaDivest no one should join Hillel.”

Northwestern University, the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter formed a group called “NU Divest” which worked to promote divestment. Leading up to the Student Government’s vote on their BDS resolution, the group sponsored several anti-Israel events such as a presentation from Hatem Bazian, a founder of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), on Friday, February 13, 2015 titled  “Colonialism is not Over: Contemporary Movements.” The group also published pro-BDS articles in the campus newspaper to inform their student-body about the BDS campaign and on Wednesday, February 18, 2015, the student government voted to pass their BDS resolution with a 24-22-3 vote.

The BDS campaign at DePaul University was also active this semester because of the campus-wide BDS referendum that was passed by a vote of 1,575-1,333 on May 23, 2014. To follow up on the vote, the DePaul Divest coalition submitted a request to the DePaul Fair Business Practices Committee (FBPC) in January 2015 and asked them to recommend that DePaul divest from Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Veolia, and Caterpillar. The proposal was reportedly rejected by the FBPC.

Flyer from DePaul University SJP Fundraiser for Rasmea Odeh.

Flyer from DePaul University SJP Fundraiser for Rasmea Odeh.

The SJP chapters at both Loyola and DePaul also hosted events to defend and discuss the case of Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian accused by Israel of having taken part in two 1969 bombings by the terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who was just convicted on a count of unlawful procurement of naturalization and is facing eighteen months in prison and deportation to Jordan. While Odeh’s case was only discussed at Loyola, at DePaul, the SJP chapter actually hosted a fundraiser for Odeh where all proceeds were to be donated to her legal defense team.

Of the more than 70 anti-Israel events on Illinois campuses since September 2013, SJP has sponsored the majority of those events, which were focused on BDS campaigns and castigating Israeli policy.

Other recent anti-Israel events on other campuses in Illinois include:

  • Shirien D, an Executive Board member of the American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights, spoke about alleged similarities between Ferguson and Gaza at the Illinois Institute of Technology on February 11, 2015.
  • A teach-in for students to learn about and get involved with the BDS movement took place at the University of Illinois-Urabana Champaign (UIUC) on Monday, November 10, 2014.
  • Ilan Pappe, an Israeli anti-Zionist professor who is famous for writing a book titled The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, spoke at the University of Chicago on Friday, October 24, 2014.

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August 7, 2013

Extreme Anti-Israel Rhetoric Marks Al Quds Day Protests Across U.S.

In commemoration of Al Quds Day, an annual day of protest typically held on the last Fri­day of Ramadan, large anti-Israel rallies took place in cities across the U.S. on August 2.  The day is used to call for the liberation of Al Quds, which means Jerusalem in Arabic.

These rallies are notorious for their virulent rhetoric against the state of Israel, includ­ing, at times, anti-Semitic allegations about Jews and Israelis. Speakers at this year’s protests in the U.S. accused Israel of perpetrating atrocities against Palestinians comparable to the Nazi Holocaust, rejected Israel’s right to exist and expressed opposition to the renewed peace talks taking place between Israel and the Palestinians.

The following is a summary of some of the Al Quds Day rallies:

Houston, Texas

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Al Quds Day protester at Houston rally

A large rally was held downtown with signs and banners that read, “Children Are Buried Alive, Holocaust Is Revived” and “Stop Palestinian Genocide: End Zionist Apartheid.” Protesters also led chants of “U.S. money is the cause, it’s another Holocaust” and “U.S. weapons go away. Stop the killing right away.”

Washington D.C.

An activist affiliated with CODEPINK, a group that seeks to reduce U.S. support for Israel, named Tighe Barry told those gathered at an Al Quds Day rally that “there’s a Holocaust going on in Palestine.” Barry charged that there is a “Zionist impression” in the American education system and relayed that he had requested that a teacher in his child’s school “teach about all the holocausts” as part of a course on the Nazi Holocaust. When the teacher refused, Barry said he offered to teach the class himself and miss work in order to “talk about these other holocausts that are taking place like the Nakba.”

San Jose, California

The Shia Association of Bay Area (SABA) held an Al Quds Day rally on its premises featuring talks on the conditions various Shiite communities face. A member of the congregation, Zaki Hussain, gave a slideshow presentation titled, “Should Shia Muslims Support Palestine?” in which Israeli policies were likened to Nazi persecutions. Hussain told the audience that as Shia Muslims and followers of the teachings of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini they have a responsibility to defend the Palestinians even though the Palestinians are Sunni Muslims.

New York City

Approximately 200 people gathered at a rally in Times Square where several speakers lambasted the existence of the state of Israel and the renewed peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Bill Doares from the International Action Center described Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanon-based, Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah, as “the leader of the resistance.” He summed up a recent speech by Nasrallah by saying, “as long as Israel exists, it’ll be the threat to the existence of Lebanon and its neighbors. So it is simple, one state in all of Palestine for all people.”

Ben Becker, a national organizer for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), used his time at the podium to condemn the latest peace negotiations, describing them as “nothing but a farce” and claiming that “they’re attempts to get some Palestinians to negotiate away those sovereign and national rights.” Fatin Jarara, an activist with the anti-Israel group Al-Awda NY, expressly rejected Israel’s right to exist: “Palestinians in the diaspora reject unequivocally any compromise over an inch of historic Palestine. Not just Jerusalem, not just the West Bank, not just Gaza.”

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Neteuri Karta member at Times Square Quds Day rally

In addition to these inflammatory speeches, signs at the rally read, “Israel (crossed out), Much Worse Than the Nazis” (with a Swastika on it), Stop Palestinian Genocide: End Zionist Apartheid and “No New Negotiations! Palestine is NOT FOR SALE.”

The protests in the U.S. echoed what was said by international figures at demonstrations in the Middle East, including Iran’s former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinajad, and Nasrallah.

In Iran, where International Al Quds Day was established in 1979 by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Ahmadinejad derided peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, claiming that the Israelis seek the “domination and plundering of the world and humanity” and that “today, all political leaders are Zionists.”

Nasrallah, in a rare appearance at a rally in southern Beirut, said, “Israel’s demise is a national Lebanese interest” and pledged that Hezbollah would never “abandon Palestine.”

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