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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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February 27, 2014 0

Eviction Notices At Northeastern Kick-Off Israeli Apartheid Week

Update: Feb­ru­ary 27 — Yes­ter­day, mem­bers of the Uni­ver­sity of North Car­olina (UNC) SJP chap­ter, dis­trib­uted hun­dreds of mock evic­tion notices in res­i­dence halls on the UNC cam­pus. Just like at North­east­ern Uni­ver­sity, where the stu­dents began to use the hash­tag “#Boston­Mock­E­vic­tion” on Twit­ter after post­ing them, at UNC they began to use “#UNC­Mock­E­vic­tion.” The mock evic­tion notices were also used to pro­mote UNC’s Israeli Apartheid Week, sched­uled to take place on the cam­pus from March 3 to March 7.

Mock evic­tion notices were slid under res­i­dence hall doors of many stu­dents at North­east­ern Uni­ver­sity ear­lier this week. Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) took respon­si­bil­ity for the action and claimed that these notices were posted to kick off Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), which is tak­ing place this week on dozens of col­lege cam­puses across the United States.northeastern-iaw-eviction-2014-sjp

The notices at North­east­ern stated that the affected dorm rooms would be demol­ished in three days and that “evic­tion notices are rou­tinely given to Pales­tin­ian fam­i­lies liv­ing under oppres­sive Israeli occu­pa­tion for no rea­son other than their eth­nic background…to cleanse the region of its Arab pop­u­la­tion, and cre­ate space for set­tle­ments.” In real­ity, some Pales­tini­ans in the West Bank receive evic­tion notices if their homes were built ille­gally or need to be demol­ished because of Israeli secu­rity con­cerns, not because of the res­i­dents’ “eth­nic background.”

Lan­guage in the notice echoed many of the themes of IAW, includ­ing alle­ga­tions of Israeli racism and apartheid, calls for Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against Israel, and claims that Israel is com­mit­ting war crimes such as eth­nic cleans­ing against the Pales­tin­ian peo­ple. North­east­ern SJP later issued a com­ment on Twit­ter that “some stu­dents don’t like fac­ing uncom­fort­able facts about Israeli apartheid.”northeastern-iaw-eviction-2014-2-sjp

The notice, var­i­ous ver­sions of which have been dis­trib­uted at sev­eral other col­lege cam­puses in recent years, was also made to appear as if it was issued by a munic­i­pal court, mak­ing the threat of demo­li­tion seem more real to the stu­dents who received them.

In the past year, anti-Israel stu­dent groups at the fol­low­ing uni­ver­si­ties have cir­cu­lated mock evic­tion notices:

  • Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan, Decem­ber 2013 – Over 1,000 stu­dents received mock evic­tion notices posted by mem­bers of the stu­dent group “Stu­dents Allied for Free­dom and Equal­ity” at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan, Ann Arbor.  These notices claimed that Israel evicts Pales­tini­ans from their homes for the pur­pose of “mak[ing] life so mis­er­able for the Arabs that they leave.”
  • Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity, Octo­ber 2013 – Stu­dents from the Rutgers-New Brunswick SJP chap­ter posted mock evic­tion notices in res­i­dence halls to “edu­cate” stu­dents about the expe­ri­ence for some Pales­tini­ans whose homes are demol­ished. Text on the mock evic­tion notices read, “Your suite is sched­uled for demo­li­tion in the next three days… If you do not vacate the premise within this time frame, we reserve the right to destroy all remain­ing belongings…This may seem like unre­al­is­ti­cally harsh treat­ment, but this is the actual state of affairs in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”
  • San Diego State Uni­ver­sity, March 2013 – Mock evic­tion notices were posted on stu­dents’ res­i­dence hall room doors by mem­bers of the SDSU SJP chap­ter. The notices, which claimed that “$30 bil­lion US tax dol­lars have been used to fund Israeli apartheid in the past decade,” were meant to raise aware­ness over Israel’s alleged human rights vio­la­tions against Palestinians.

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