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February 27, 2015 2

College Campuses Continue To Face Divisive BDS Campaigns

Through­out the 2014–15 aca­d­e­mic year, a con­sor­tium of stu­dent groups have ini­ti­ated cam­paigns on cam­pus call­ing on their schools to divest from com­pa­nies that they believe either profit from or aid in the Israeli occupation.BDS-campus-anti-israel

The efforts are part of the larger Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) move­ment, a global effort to iso­late and pun­ish Israel because of its poli­cies toward the Pales­tini­ans. While sup­port­ers of the BDS move­ment claim to embrace the tac­tic as a non­vi­o­lent way to pres­sure Israel into nego­ti­a­tions, one of the prin­ci­pal com­po­nents of the cam­paign calls for a full and com­plete right of return for Pales­tini­ans which would result in a non-Jewish major­ity and erase the Jew­ish char­ac­ter of Israel. The BDS cam­paign is clearly a biased effort to demo­nize Israel and place the entire onus of the con­flict on the Jew­ish state.

While these ini­tia­tives have failed to have any prac­ti­cal out­comes in terms of uni­ver­sity invest­ment poli­cies, it can­not be ignored that some have had a divi­sive and cor­ro­sive effect on the cam­pus cli­mate. On some cam­puses, divest­ment ini­tia­tives have left Jew­ish and pro-Israel stu­dents feel­ing belea­guered and iso­lated. Other stu­dents report a tense atmos­phere on cam­puses where stu­dents and stu­dent lead­ers are pres­sured to “choose sides” on a con­flict they know lit­tle about.

So far this aca­d­e­mic year, nearly 300 anti-Israel events have been sched­uled, with about 40% of them focused on BDS cam­paigns. In addi­tion, BDS res­o­lu­tions have been voted in stu­dent gov­ern­ment on or ini­ti­ated by anti-Israel stu­dent groups on 11 campuses.

In the com­ing weeks, addi­tion BDS activ­ity will be coor­di­nated on cam­pus as part of the eleventh annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), which began on Feb­ru­ary 23 and is sched­uled to run through March. IAW Events have been sched­uled on at least 25 col­lege cam­puses in the U.S. thus far. Some cam­puses are sched­uled to host pre­sen­ta­tions on top­ics such as the false Gaza-Ferguson anal­ogy and oth­ers will set up mock “apartheid walls” on their cam­puses, and/or dis­trib­ute mock “evic­tion notices.”

Below is a list of cur­rent cam­pus BDS cam­paigns and res­o­lu­tions which have been voted on:

  • North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity – The North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity stu­dent gov­ern­ment passed a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion sub­mit­ted by the student-group NU Divest on Wednes­day, Feb­ru­ary 18, 2015. The vote was 24–22-3.
  • Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity – The Under­grad­u­ate Sen­ate of Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity passed a BDS res­o­lu­tion sub­mit­ted by the student-group Stan­ford out of Occu­pied Pales­tine on Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 17, 2015. The vote on the res­o­lu­tion was 10–4-1.
  • Uni­ver­sity of Toledo – The Uni­ver­sity of Toledo stu­dent gov­ern­ment ruled that a BDS res­o­lu­tion sub­mit­ted by the cam­pus Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine chap­ter was uncon­sti­tu­tional on Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 17, 2015.
  • Uni­ver­sity of California-Davis – The UC Davis Stu­dent Sen­ate passed a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion that was sub­mit­ted by the cam­pus Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine chap­ter on Thurs­day, Jan­u­ary 29, 2015. The vote on the res­o­lu­tion was 8–2-2, but it was chal­lenged and over­turned by the student-led Court of Asso­ci­ated Stu­dents, which is beyond the juris­dic­tion of the Stu­dent Senate.
  • United Auto Work­ers (UAW) 2865 – The Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Stu­dent Work­ers Union (UAW 2865) endorsed a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion on Thurs­day, Decem­ber 4, 2014 call­ing on the UC Board of Regents to divest from com­pa­nies that are allegedly prof­it­ing from or aid­ing in the Israeli occu­pa­tion. The res­o­lu­tion also called for an end of U.S. aid to Israel and for UAW Inter­na­tional to divest from the same cor­po­ra­tions. The vote was 1411–749.
  • Uni­ver­sity of California-Los Ange­les - On Tues­day, Novem­ber 18, 2014, the UCLA stu­dent gov­ern­ment endorsed a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion that was sub­mit­ted by the cam­pus Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine chap­ter. The vote on the res­o­lu­tion was 8–2-2.

Below is a list of BDS cam­paigns cur­rently tak­ing place:

  • Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan –  The student-group Stu­dents Allied for Free­dom and Equal­ity (SAFE) at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan announced plans to ini­ti­ate a divest­ment cam­paign called “#UMDi­vest” on Feb­ru­ary 18, 2015. To go along with this, they are host­ing a BDS sym­po­sium to dis­cuss the cam­paign, read the res­o­lu­tion, and answer ques­tions from the audience.
  • Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton – The Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter announced plans to ini­ti­ate a BDS cam­paign on Feb­ru­ary 12, 2015. The group spon­sored a pro-BDS demon­stra­tion on their cam­pus that day where the cam­paign was announced.
  • Ohio State Uni­ver­sity – A newly-founded group called Ohio State Uni­ver­sity Divest (OSU Divest) started a divest­ment cam­paign on Jan­u­ary 29, 2015. They announced their cam­paign through a press release and state that they were call­ing on the Uni­ver­sity to divest from com­pa­nies that allegedly harm and/or profit from harm­ing Palestinians.
  • San Diego State Uni­ver­sity – SDSU Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine launched a divest­ment cam­paign and new group called San Diego State Uni­ver­sity Divest (SDSU Divest) on Jan­u­ary 25, 2015. To go along with the cam­paign, they have 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.”
  • Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Florida – The Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Florida SJP chap­ter put up a pro-BDS bill­board near cam­pus to claim that 10,000 stu­dents were silenced because BDS was not enforced by the Uni­ver­sity Admin­is­tra­tion after the group allegedly col­lected 10,000 sig­na­tures call­ing on the uni­ver­sity to divest from cor­po­ra­tions that allegedly profit from the Israeli occupation.

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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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March 28, 2014 1

MPAC Steps Up Involvement In Anti-Israel Activity

The Mus­lim Pub­lic Affairs Coun­cil, one of the lead­ing Amer­i­can Mus­lim advo­cacy orga­ni­za­tions in the U.S., has shown increased involve­ment in grass­roots anti-Israel activ­ity this month.

On March 30, the group will co-sponsor pre­sen­ta­tions by anti-Israel activist Mazin Qum­siyeh at two churches in Cal­i­for­nia. The pre­sen­ta­tions, titled “The Impor­tance of Pales­tine in Mid­dle East Pol­i­tics and The U.S. Citizen’s Role,” will be deliv­ered at All Saints Church in Pasadena and St. Mark Pres­by­ter­ian Church in New­port Beach.

Qum­siyeh, a pro­fes­sor at Beth­le­hem and Birzeit Uni­ver­si­ties and for­mer pro­fes­sor at Duke and Yale Uni­ver­si­ties, has a long record of engag­ing in extreme cam­paigns against Israel, includ­ing advo­cat­ing for a one-state solu­tion to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, sup­port­ing the Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tion (BDS) cam­paign against Israel, and par­tic­i­pat­ing in “non­vi­o­lent” protests against Israel in the West Bank that often turn violent.

Al Marayati at IAW Loyola

Salam Al-Marayati post­ing at Loy­ola Marymount’s mock “apartheid wall.”

After the Boston Marathon bomb­ing last April, Qum­siyeh wrote a post on his blog derid­ing the “Zion­ist spin” of the story, which he claimed was try­ing to hold Mus­lims respon­si­ble for the attack but ignored “past false flag oper­a­tions by the Israeli Mossad.” He has pre­vi­ously accused Israel and its sup­port­ers in the United States of being respon­si­ble for “wars on Arab and Mus­lim countries.”

In addi­tion, last week, Salam Al-Marayati, pres­i­dent of MPAC, par­tic­i­pated in the first Pales­tine Aware­ness Week at Loy­ola Mary­mount Uni­ver­sity in Los Ange­les. The event was orga­nized by the newly formed chap­ter of Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine on cam­pus. On his Face­book page, Al Maray­ati posted a pic­ture of him­self stand­ing near the mock “apartheid wall.”

Although MPAC expressly sup­ports “a just and com­pre­hen­sive two-state solu­tion,” its coop­er­a­tion with and par­tic­i­pa­tion in events that sup­port BDS and a one-state solu­tion to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict raise seri­ous con­cerns about the organization’s stated platform.

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