campus » ADL Blogs
Posts Tagged ‘campus’
January 28, 2016 0

Crossing the Line: When Criticism of Israel Becomes Anti-Semitic

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

Task Force Protestors

Pro­test­ers at Task Force Con­fer­ence in Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the wake of a protest against a recep­tion fea­tur­ing an Israeli com­mu­nity group at a recent LGBTQ con­fer­ence, there has been wide­spread con­tro­versy. We have read blog posts and arti­cles, watched videos of the protest, and heard from friends and allies who were present at the demonstration.

Yet, what was per­haps most painful for many of us is that we value and embrace much of the good work of these activists and orga­niz­ers.  They are some of our nation’s lead­ing advo­cates, work­ing to secure jus­tice and fair treat­ment to all. Often they stand as allies in our work for jus­tice and equality.

Unfor­tu­nately, though, this fis­sure is not a new expe­ri­ence.  Since start­ing as the CEO of ADL last sum­mer, I per­son­ally have heard from many col­lege stu­dents that their Jew­ish faith ren­ders them pari­ahs on their cam­puses – unless and until they affir­ma­tively denounce Israel.

Cam­pus Hil­lels and other Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions that have long worked with LGBTQ cam­pus groups, stu­dent of color orga­ni­za­tions, and other pro­gres­sive clubs on cam­pus to host film fes­ti­vals, pan­els, and other events increas­ingly are being shut out, rejected from par­tic­i­pat­ing, even when Israel is not on the agenda. Where other stu­dents are not being sub­jected to a lit­mus test on their views on Israel, Jew­ish stu­dents have been sin­gled out and ques­tioned about their objec­tiv­ity and posi­tion on the issue.

As racial ten­sions flared across the coun­try the past few years, we heard anec­dotes from Jew­ish racial jus­tice advo­cates that they were called “kikes” or tar­geted with other anti-Jewish slurs. When they tried to address the epi­thets, they were told they need to under­stand that “it’s because of Israel.”

Here’s the thing, though. It’s not. It’s anti-Semitism.

Let’s be clear. No gov­ern­ment is immune from crit­i­cism. Surely nei­ther the U.S. gov­ern­ment nor the gov­ern­ment of Israel nor any other.  Indeed, we have crit­i­cized poli­cies and prac­tices of Israeli lead­er­ship when we felt appro­pri­ate to do so.

We rec­og­nize that anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian activists will con­demn Israel. That is a real­ity. That is their right. We dis­agree — vig­or­ously — with their accu­sa­tions of pinkwash­ing, with claims that Israel is an apartheid state, and with other efforts to demo­nize Israel.  And we will speak out, chal­lenge their mis­char­ac­ter­i­za­tions, and dis­man­tle their indict­ments with facts and truths, as is our right.

But when that crit­i­cism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism, we will con­demn it. It is unac­cept­able and can­not be tol­er­ated any­where, espe­cially not in social jus­tice circles.

To be spe­cific, when a per­son con­flates Jews, Israelis, and the Israeli gov­ern­ment, it is anti-Semitic. When all Jews and all Israelis are held respon­si­ble for the actions of the Israeli gov­ern­ment, it is anti-Semitic. When Jews would be denied the right to self-determination accorded to all other peo­ples, it is anti-Semitic.

And when pro­test­ers chant “Pales­tine will be free from the river to the sea,” it is appro­pri­ately inter­preted by most peo­ple as a call for the era­sure of Israel – and it is anti-Semitic. Giv­ing pro­tes­tors the ben­e­fit of the doubt, it is unlikely that most intend their mes­sage to be anti-Semitic. How­ever, regard­less of the intent of the protest, the impact matters.

Yet, too often, when stu­dents, indi­vid­u­als, or orga­ni­za­tions raise the specter of anti-Semitism it is quickly rejected, dis­re­garded, or writ­ten off. Israel’s crit­ics lit­er­ally have writ­ten best-selling books decry­ing their so-called inabil­ity to crit­i­cize Israel.

But Pres­i­dent Obama him­self noted that anti-Semitism is on the rise. And, as he elo­quently reminded, “When any Jews any­where is tar­geted just for being Jew­ish, we all have to respond.. ‘We are all Jews.’ ”

Indeed, we know that women are best posi­tioned to define sex­ism, peo­ple of color to define racism, and LGBTQ peo­ple to define homo­pho­bia, trans­pho­bia, and het­ero­sex­ism. But, does this mean that all women must reach con­sen­sus on what offends them? All peo­ple of color? Every­one in LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ties? Hardly.

So too, we Jews are best sit­u­ated to define anti-Semitism, even if all of us may not likely reach con­sen­sus on the def­i­n­i­tion. Our mil­len­nial expe­ri­ence with intol­er­ance demands the same acknowl­edge­ment as other forms of big­otry. Indeed, it is the col­lec­tive respon­si­bil­ity of activists and orga­niz­ers across the ide­o­log­i­cal spec­trum to stop and lis­ten when some­one says,  “You’ve crossed the line.”

Stand­ing up for rights of dis­em­pow­ered peo­ple is a job for us all. ADL has been doing it for more than 100 years. But mar­gin­al­iz­ing and wound­ing oth­ers in the process helps no one. Rather, it divides us and impedes our abil­ity to find com­mon ground in places where our col­lec­tive strength could do so much good.

Tags: , , , ,

November 24, 2015 2

Campus Groups Exploit Domestic Social Issues to Attack Israel

Anti-Israel groups on uni­ver­sity and col­lege cam­puses con­tinue to link the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict to issues of police bru­tal­ity and dis­crim­i­na­tion in the U.S., in an attempt to gain broader sup­port for Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns and other anti-Israel ini­tia­tives from minor­ity stu­dent groups. By employ­ing this tac­tic, groups such as Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) link domes­tic issues to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, thereby couch­ing hos­til­ity towards Israel in social jus­tice terms and mak­ing Israel look like an aggressor.students-for-justice-in-palestine-suhad-khatib

Below are a few exam­ples of these events and actions from the 2015–2016 aca­d­e­mic year:

  • Linda Sar­sour, the National Advo­cacy Direc­tor for the National Net­work for Arab Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ties, spoke at Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity on Mon­day, Novem­ber 23, 2015 for an event titled “Sol­i­dar­ity: Uni­fy­ing Com­mu­ni­ties of Color to Break Cycles of Oppres­sion.” Accord­ing to the orga­niz­ers of the event, it was held to focus on a num­ber of issues, includ­ing “mass incar­cer­a­tion, mass crim­i­nal­iza­tion, struc­tural vio­lence, apartheid, racism, state-sanctioned vio­lence, police bru­tal­ity, tear gassed for fight­ing for free­dom and equal­ity– a real­ity for Pales­tini­ans liv­ing under occu­pa­tion, and for Blacks fight­ing an unjust sys­tem here in the United States.”
  • Suhad Khatib, a mem­ber of the St. Louis Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Com­mit­tee (PSC), spoke via Skype at San Diego State Uni­ver­sity on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 19 for an event titled “Resist­ing Oppres­sion from Miz­zou to Gaza.” In her pre­sen­ta­tion, she stated that African-Americans, Pales­tini­ans, Mex­i­cans, and oppressed peo­ple are con­nected, claim­ing that “Fer­gu­son taught me more about my con­nec­tion with Pales­tine than any­thing else because you under­stand racism and sys­tem­atic racism. We as Pales­tini­ans are brain­washed to think we are white when we are peo­ple of color and are oppressed.”
  • The Mar­quette Uni­ver­sity SJP chap­ter spon­sored a panel dis­cus­sion titled “Out­lets 4 Activism,” which fea­tured Ali Abunimah, founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor of the anti-Israel Elec­tronic Intifada blog, as a pan­elist. Other pan­elists at the event included Nate Hamil­ton, an activist from the #Black­Lives­Mat­ter move­ment and brother of Don­tre Hamil­ton; and Oscar Her­nan­dez, an immi­grant rights activist who works as an Orga­nizer for We Own the DREAM. The event was co-sponsored by Black Stu­dent Coun­cil (BSC), Youth Empow­ered in the Strug­gle (Y.E.S), the National Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple (NAACP), and Jew­ish Voice for Peace (JVP).
  • Many SJP chap­ters and other anti-Israel groups across the coun­try co-sponsored ral­lies and demon­stra­tions held in sol­i­dar­ity with African-American stu­dents at the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­souri. At one of the demon­stra­tions, which took place at Loy­ola Uni­ver­sity on Wednes­day, Novem­ber 11, Nadine Dar­wish, a mem­ber of Loy­ola SJP and Loy­ola Divest, stated “Now is the time to hold admin­is­tra­tors accountable…No longer can we remain com­pla­cent as stu­dents and stu­dent activists. We have to put an end to the poli­cies and prac­tices that con­tribute to the sys­temic trauma­ti­za­tion of stu­dents of color on cam­pus, par­tic­u­larly Black stu­dents and my peers in SJP.”

These events are a con­tin­u­a­tion of what occurred dur­ing the pre­vi­ous aca­d­e­mic year, when anti-Israel groups worked to link the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict to Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri and when SJP and its part­ners began to pub­licly back dif­fer­ent move­ments and offer sup­port to var­i­ous groups, while broad­en­ing sup­port for BDS and other anti-Israel initiatives.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,