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September 25, 2015 20

University Departments Sponsor Key BDS Advocates

Uni­ver­sity depart­ments on five dif­fer­ent col­lege cam­puses have spon­sored or co-sponsored anti-Israel pro­grams pro­mot­ing Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns so far dur­ing the 2015–16 aca­d­e­mic year. The found­ing goals of the BDS move­ment and many of the strate­gies employed in BDS cam­paigns are anti-Semitic.  Such spon­sor­ship cre­ates the per­cep­tion that spe­cific uni­ver­sity depart­ments sanc­tion these goals and strate­gies, lend­ing an added degree of legit­i­macy and cred­i­bil­ity to anti-Israel advo­cacy and cam­paigns that may alien­ate Jew­ish and pro-Israel students.omar-barghouti-berkeley-flyer

Since the 2012–13 aca­d­e­mic year, there have been at least 99 anti-Israel events that received uni­ver­sity depart­ment spon­sor­ship, includ­ing 44 events which took place in the 2014–15 aca­d­e­mic year.

On Sep­tem­ber 18, 2015, Omar Bargh­outi, a found­ing mem­ber of the Pales­tin­ian Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic and Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel (PACBI), spoke at the Uni­ver­sity of California-Berkeley. His pre­sen­ta­tion, which dis­cussed the role which he believes acad­e­mia should play in BDS, was spon­sored by the cam­pus Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter and co-sponsored by eight dif­fer­ent Uni­ver­sity depart­ments, includ­ing the Cen­ter for Race and Gen­der, Asian Amer­i­can Stud­ies, Native Amer­i­can Stud­ies, Eth­nic Stud­ies, Eng­lish, Chi­cano Stud­ies, Near East­ern Stud­ies, and African Amer­i­can Studies.

Bargh­outi, a founder of the move­ment who recently stated that he believes BDS is turn­ing main­stream, has used Holo­caust imagery to con­demn Israel and its sup­port­ers in past pre­sen­ta­tions and inter­views. He also has advo­cated for a one-state solu­tion to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, along with the right of return for Pales­tin­ian refugees, claim­ing that one state would mean “equal­ity for everyone–irrespective of iden­tity, eth­nic­ity, reli­gion or any other attribute.”

Barghouti’s event is not unique for this year though, as the Cen­ter for Diver­sity and Inclu­sion at Michi­gan Tech­no­log­i­cal Uni­ver­sity spon­sored a sim­i­lar pre­sen­ta­tion from Israeli anti-Zionist author Miko Peled on Sep­tem­ber 15, 2015. Over the years, Peled has made sev­eral state­ments about Jews, Israel, and the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict that would not define “inclu­sion” or “diver­sity.” These state­ments include his alle­ga­tion that Israel turned Gaza into an “enor­mous con­cen­tra­tion camp” or more recently, when he stated that “nei­ther Iran, Hezbol­lah or Hamas pose a threat to Israel, they pose a threat to the Israeli occu­pa­tion and oppres­sion of Palestinians.”

Other events which received depart­ment spon­sor­ship this year include an upcom­ing per­for­mance by Remi Kanazi, an Orga­niz­ing Com­mit­tee mem­ber of the US Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic & Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel (USACBI), at John Jay Col­lege. At John Jay, Kanazi’s per­for­mance is being co-sponsored by the Depart­ment of Gen­der Studies.

In addi­tion, a Sep­tem­ber 16 pre­sen­ta­tion at Drew Uni­ver­sity by Bassem Tamimi, a Pales­tin­ian anti-Israel activist who has been arrested in Israel sev­eral times, was co-sponsored by the Mid­dle East Stud­ies Depart­ment; and a pre­sen­ta­tion from Vijay Prashad, the for­mer Edward Said chair in Amer­i­can Stud­ies at the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­sity of Beirut, was co-sponsored by the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs Program.

While not all advo­cates of BDS are anti-Semitic and may be dri­ven by per­ceived legit­i­mate crit­i­cism of cer­tain Israeli poli­cies toward Pales­tini­ans, many indi­vid­u­als engaged in BDS cam­paigns are dri­ven by oppo­si­tion to Israel’s very exis­tence as a Jew­ish state. Because of this, it’s unfor­tu­nate that uni­ver­sity depart­ments would lend their spon­sor­ship to events that can cre­ate an envi­ron­ment that is hos­tile to Jew­ish and pro-Israel students.

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January 30, 2015 5

BDS Passed at UC Davis, Other BDS Campaigns Also Occurring

Last night at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis, a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion was passed by The Asso­ci­ated Stu­dents, Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia (ASUCD) with a vote of 8–2-2. The res­o­lu­tion, which calls on the UC Board of Regents to divest from com­pa­nies that allegedly “aid in the Israeli occu­pa­tion of Pales­tine and ille­gal set­tle­ments in Pales­tin­ian ter­ri­to­ries,” tar­gets spe­cific cor­po­ra­tions such as Cater­pil­lar, G4S, Veo­lia Envi­ron­ment and Raytheon.

Students from Davis Divest celebrate after their BDS resolution was passed with an 8-2-2 vote.

Stu­dents from Davis Divest cel­e­brate after their BDS res­o­lu­tion was passed with an 8–2-2 vote.

Sev­eral other Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions cam­paigns are simul­ta­ne­ously occur­ring on other col­lege cam­puses across the U.S. This is con­sis­tent with our pre­dic­tions in our “Anti-Israel Activ­ity on Cam­pus After Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge” report about upcom­ing chal­lenges on cam­puses where student-groups are look­ing to con­vince their uni­ver­si­ties to divest from cor­po­ra­tions that they believe per­pet­u­ate or profit from the Israeli occupation.

In some cases, new stu­dent groups have been founded to launch these cam­paigns and in other cases, estab­lished anti-Israel stu­dent groups such as Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP), have taken the lead. In many cases, these stu­dent groups have attempted to form part­ner­ships with other groups on their cam­puses to build broad coali­tions and to latch onto other social jus­tice causes. For exam­ple, these groups have spon­sored events such as “From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine and the Wall,” which took place in mid-January at Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity and described as an oppor­tu­nity to “dis­cuss the specifics and con­nec­tions between the move­ments for jus­tice in Fer­gu­son, the US-Mexico Bor­der and Palestine.”

Dur­ing the first semes­ter of the cur­rent aca­d­e­mic year, the UCLA SJP chap­ter was able to get “A Res­o­lu­tion to Divest from Cor­po­ra­tions Engaged in Vio­lence Against Pales­tini­ans” passed by their stu­dent gov­ern­ment. The res­o­lu­tion, which was spon­sored by 15 stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions and endorsed by another 17, was voted on with an 8–2-2 mar­gin. In addi­tion, at the end of last semes­ter, the UC Student-Workers Union, UAW Local 2865, voted in favor of a res­o­lu­tion urg­ing the UC Board of Regents to join the BDS move­ment against Israel.

In addi­tion to UC Davis, there are another six cam­puses in the U.S. that are cur­rently engaged in BDS cam­paigns. Below is a run­down of their activ­i­ties:  

  1. DePaul Uni­ver­sity – The DePaul Divest coali­tion sub­mit­ted a request to the Fair Busi­ness Prac­tices Com­mit­tee (FBPC) to uphold a deci­sion made last spring when DePaul stu­dents voted on a ref­er­en­dum in favor of divest­ment dur­ing Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment elec­tions. The com­pa­nies that they were tar­get­ing for divest­ment included Hewlett-Packard, Boe­ing, Lock­heed Mar­tin, Veo­lia, and Cater­pil­lar, but the pro­posal was report­edly rejected by the FBPC.
  1. North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity – A newly-founded group called NU Divest has been host­ing pro-BDS events to inform their student-body about BDS and they are plan­ning to sub­mit a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion for vote to their stu­dent gov­ern­ment at some point this semester.
  1. Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity – A new stu­dent group called Stan­ford Out of Occu­pied Pales­tine has been host­ing pro-BDS events on cam­pus and plans to sub­mit a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion to their stu­dent gov­ern­ment this semester.
  1. SDSU – A group call­ing itself SDSU Divest recently launched a divest­ment cam­paign and has been cir­cu­lat­ing a peti­tion to cur­rent stu­dents, alumni, fac­ulty, staff, and com­mu­nity mem­bers that calls for divest­ment “from com­pa­nies that profit from vio­lence against the Pales­tini­ans.” The group is also host­ing its “First Open Forum for Divest­ment” next Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 3.
  1. Uni­ver­sity of South Florida – The USF SJP chap­ter recently put a bill­board up near their cam­pus that claims that “10,000 stu­dents were silenced” and calls on USF to divest from cor­po­ra­tions allegedly prof­it­ing from the Israeli occu­pa­tion. They claim that stu­dents were silenced because the uni­ver­sity did not pur­sue divest­ment after they cir­cu­lated a pro-BDS peti­tion that report­edly received over 10,000 signatures.
  1. Ohio State Uni­ver­sity – A newly-founded group called OSU Divest started a divest­ment cam­paign on their cam­pus and dis­sem­i­nated a press release which calls for OSU to divest from com­pa­nies that allegedly “engage in or oth­er­wise profit from poli­cies that oppress and mar­gin­al­ize Palestinians.”

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November 26, 2014 4

California Campuses See Increase in Anti-Israel Activity

The doc­u­mented increase in anti-Israel activ­ity so far this aca­d­e­mic year has been most appar­ent in Cal­i­for­nia, which has seen a sig­nif­i­cant increase in the num­ber of sched­uled anti-Israel events.

Since the begin­ning of the aca­d­e­mic year, there have been 40 anti-Israel events sched­uled to take place on col­lege cam­puses com­pared to the 15 events sched­uled dur­ing that same time period last year.ucla-divest-bds

These events, which are fre­quently spon­sored by groups like Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) and Jew­ish Voice for Peace (JVP), have addressed how to ini­ti­ate Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions cam­paigns against Israel and often attempt to bring atten­tion to their activism by couch­ing their hos­til­ity towards Israel in social jus­tice terms, link­ing the con­flict in Gaza to other unre­lated issues.

Just this week, for exam­ple, the UCLA stu­dent gov­ern­ment endorsed “A Res­o­lu­tion to Divest from Cor­po­ra­tions Engaged in Vio­lence against Pales­tini­ans.” The res­o­lu­tion, which was sub­mit­ted by UCLA SJP, calls for the uni­ver­sity to divest from 11 cor­po­ra­tions, includ­ing Boe­ing, Cater­pil­lar, Cement Road­stone Hold­ings, Cemex, Gen­eral Dynam­ics, Gen­eral Elec­tric, Hewlett Packard, Lock­heed Mar­tin, Northrop Grum­man, Raytheon, and United Tech­nolo­gies. Although the res­o­lu­tion was passed under the pre­text that those cor­po­ra­tions vio­late Pales­tin­ian human rights, none of those com­pa­nies listed are actu­ally engaged in vio­lence against Palestinians.

Other exam­ples of the types of events that Cal­i­for­nia uni­ver­si­ties have hosted so far this semes­ter include:

  • Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), a week­long series of anti-Israel events which usu­ally occurs on cam­puses in the Spring, took place at UC River­side from Novem­ber 17–20, 2014. IAW at UC River­side fea­tured four events, which included a “die-in” and a per­for­mance by Remi Kanazi, an Orga­niz­ing Com­mit­tee mem­ber of the US Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic & Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel, who uses spo­ken word and poetry to pro­mote anti-Israel ini­tia­tives like divest­ment and a one-state solution.
  •  A lec­ture deliv­ered by Ali­son Weir at San Diego State Uni­ver­sity titled “The hid­den his­tory behind the US & Israel,” based on her most recent book, in which she claims that sup­port­ers of Israel have exer­cised undue con­trol over Amer­i­can soci­ety for “over a hun­dred years.”

Although anti-Israel activ­ity is not a new phe­nom­e­non on cam­puses in Cal­i­for­nia, this year’s increase is not a sur­prise, as it fol­lows 47 anti-Israel demon­stra­tions that occurred in Cal­i­for­nia dur­ing Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge.  Many of these demon­stra­tions were co-sponsored by stu­dent groups like the Gen­eral Union of Pales­tine Stu­dents (GUPS) at San Fran­cisco State Uni­ver­sity and var­i­ous SJP chap­ters through­out the state. At sev­eral demon­stra­tions, par­tic­i­pants held signs that com­pared the State of Israel to Nazi Ger­many and at a demon­stra­tion in San Fran­cisco, par­tic­i­pants burned an Israeli flag.

Addi­tion­ally, in late Sep­tem­ber, Amer­i­can Mus­lims for Pales­tine (AMP), the lead­ing orga­ni­za­tion pro­vid­ing anti-Zionist train­ing and edu­ca­tion to col­lege stu­dents through­out the coun­try, began the aca­d­e­mic year with a call for an “Inter­na­tional Day of Action on Col­lege Cam­puses,” advo­cat­ing for a vari­ety of BDS-related ini­tia­tives in an effort to iso­late and demo­nize Israel and Jew­ish com­mu­nal orga­ni­za­tions. ADL doc­u­mented only ten “Day of Action” demon­stra­tions in the U.S. with three hav­ing taken place at Cal­i­for­nia uni­ver­si­ties such as Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity, San Jose State Uni­ver­sity, and UC Berkeley.

Even with the rise in anti-Israel activ­ity on many cam­puses in Cal­i­for­nia, most Jew­ish and pro-Israel stu­dents report feel­ing com­fort­able to express their reli­gious and polit­i­cal beliefs at their schools.  While anti-Semitism does occur too often at col­leges through­out the coun­try, gen­er­ally respect is the norm, and anti-Jewish big­otry is not openly tol­er­ated.  This mes­sage is often con­veyed by uni­ver­sity admin­is­tra­tions, who are on the front lines of the strug­gle to com­bat hate on cam­pus while bal­anc­ing free speech, aca­d­e­mic free­dom, and main­tain­ing uni­ver­si­ties as the “mar­ket­places of ideas” simultaneously.

An exam­ple of this occurred after a very divi­sive and dif­fi­cult quar­ter on the UCLA cam­pus in the Spring of 2014 sur­round­ing the Israel-Palestinian issue. At that time, UCLA Chan­cel­lor Gene Block issued a state­ment on The Impor­tance of Civil Dis­course, remind­ing the cam­pus com­mu­nity that “Polit­i­cal speech that stig­ma­tizes or casts asper­sions on indi­vid­u­als or par­tic­u­lar groups does not pro­mote healthy debate but debases it by try­ing to intim­i­date indi­vid­u­als and groups… [I]f we lis­ten only to those who already share our assump­tions, truth gets lost, our intel­lec­tual cli­mate is impov­er­ished and our com­mu­nity is diminished.”

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