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March 4, 2014

SJP Member Appears On Press TV To Promote BDS Movement

Kumars Salehi, a member of New York University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter, appeared last week on Press TV, Iran’s government-run English-language satellite news network, to promote the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.kumars-salehi-sjp-presstv-iaw

During the interview, Salehi claimed that BDS, “targets the state of Israel, institutions within Israel that refuse to be against their government’s policies, as well as companies that profit from the occupation and Israel’s occupation economy.” Salehi made sure to also point out his support for a full boycott of Israeli goods, stating that the BDS campaign is against, “not just those products that are made in the settlements.”

Press TV has emerged as the Iranian government’s primary propaganda tool to promote a wide range of pernicious anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in English to a worldwide audience. Press TV has provided a platform for some of the most well-known anti-Semites, including anti-Semite David Duke, anti-Semitic columnist Kevin Barrett, and Holocaust-denying book publisher Michael Santomauro, among others.

Salehi’s interview coincided with the start of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), which is taking place in various cities around the world. SJP has organized many IAW activities in the U.S., including the distribution of mock eviction notices at Ohio State University, University of North Carolina, and Northeastern University.

During Salehi’s appearance last week, the program’s host described the U.S. Congress being “controlled by the likes of AIPAC and the other pro-Israel lobbies” as a hurdle to the success of BDS.

Salehi has appeared on Press TV at least four times since December 2013. During his December interview, Salehi alleged that Israel is sabotaging the ongoing peace negotiations in order “to continue killing Palestinians”and build settlements in the West Bank.

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February 27, 2014

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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March 15, 2013

“So What Are You DOING About it?”… How ADL Counters Anti-Israel Activity on College Campuses

American college campuses continue to be a proving ground for various anti-Israel campaigns, tactics and messages. Last week, our blog reported on several different initiatives we’ve seen recently, including nonbinding Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolutions at the University of California, San Diego, Riverside and Irvine; Israeli Apartheid Week and, of course, university sponsorship of anti-Israel programs.

So what role did ADL play to counter these messages and advocate for Israel?

Outreach to University Administrators: ADL encouraged the Chancellors at Irvine, Riverside and San Diego to speak out against the non-binding divestment resolutions that passed on these campuses and reassure the Jewish and pro-Israel community that the universities intend to follow the UC-wide policy against divestment. The chancellors at all of these schools have commendably done so.

In a few days, Naim Ateek, the director of a “Palestinian Liberation Theology” organization called Sabeel, is scheduled to speak at Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University. Ateek frequently uses Christian imagery to demonize Israel and Zionism, including claims that Israel is engaged in a “crucifixion” campaign against Palestinians. Similarly, he has accused Israel of committing a Holocaust against the Palestinians. His appearances are sponsored by academic departments at the two universities. ADL has communicated to both universities that the school’s sponsorships of Ateek are inappropriate and that the universities should consider hosting pro-Israel speakers as well.

In the past few months, ADL staff has also met with high-level administrators at a variety of campuses to talk about how Jewish students experience anti-Israel activity on campus. We have brainstormed with them about ways to make the college campus a true “marketplace of ideas” where all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are adequately represented. Over the past 100 years, ADL has developed a reputation as an honest and credible voice for the Jewish community. ADL is therefore uniquely positioned to educate university officials about the Jewish and pro-Israel community’s perspective and encourage them to speak out against extreme anti-Israel activity and anti-Semitism.

Expressions against Divestment: ADL responded to a non-binding Associated Students Council resolution urging divestment at the University of California, San Diego, by submitting a statement against divestment to the student senators considering the resolution. The statement, read during the public discussion on the resolution, described how BDS doesn’t advance the cause of peace because it “deepens the divisions between Israelis and Palestinians” and places all the blame for the conflict on Israel. The statement also warned that the resolution targeted companies that help Israel better protect its citizens and that a call for divestment would illustrate the UCSD students’ lack of commitment to Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense.

Exposing and Educating: In this week’s edition of J., a Bay Area-based newspaper, the regional director of ADL’s Central Pacific office contributed an op-ed about how the three stated goals of the BDS movement demonstrate that the movement’s objective is to isolate Israel, not create the conditions for peace. ADL regularly exposes anti-Israel activity through op-eds, as well as our blog, website and other platforms.

Training Students: In San Diego, ADL runs a program called I-Pitch for Israel which helps train pro-Israel students on campus to lobby against divestment and other anti-Israel campaigns. Training also includes information about free speech rights and the myths and facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Several I-Pitch participants spoke out against divestment at the public discussion as well.

As anti-Israel campaigns continue to play out on college campuses across the country, ADL will stand with our partners in the local Jewish communities and with students to counter these initiatives and advocate on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people. Do you have any other ideas for responding to anti-Israel activity? Use the space below to let us know!

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