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November 26, 2014 0

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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November 20, 2014 0

Anti-Israel Activity Prevalent On Massachusetts Campuses This Year

With recent anti-Israel activ­ity at mul­ti­ple uni­ver­si­ties in Massachusetts,the state has become a hotspot for cam­pus events pro­mot­ing Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns and the use of con­fronta­tional tac­tics to protest pro-Israel events.students-for-justice-in-palestine-2014-national-conference

Nine anti-Israel events have been held in Mass­a­chu­setts so far this aca­d­e­mic year, more than dou­ble the four events that took place last year dur­ing the same time­frame. This aca­d­e­mic year’s events fol­low the nine anti-Israel demon­stra­tions that were held in Mass­a­chu­settsover the sum­mer dur­ing Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge, some of which fea­tured signs with slo­gans like “Not even the Holo­caust gives you the right to do this!” and “Do you think that Israel is a vic­tim? Zion­ism = Nazism.”

In Octo­ber, the fourth annual National Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) Con­fer­ence took place at Tufts University.SJP, a stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion with over 110 chap­ters at Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties, held the con­fer­ence so that stu­dents from around the coun­try could unify for a week­end to learn about SJP’s stance on the con­flict. The con­fer­ence was titled “Beyond Sol­i­dar­ity: Resist­ing Racism and Colo­nial­ism from the U.S. to Pales­tine,” a ref­er­ence to SJP activists’ efforts to con­nect vary­ing strug­gles and move­ments to the Pales­tin­ian cause, and it fea­tured work­shops such as “Noth­ing Nor­mal about It: Coun­ter­ing Nor­mal­iza­tion of Israeli Oppres­sion on Cam­pus,” and “Israeli Apartheid: Real­ity on the Ground after the Pro­tec­tive Edge Mas­sacre and End­ing Geno­cide in Gaza.”

Open Hil­lel, a student-run cam­paign call­ing on Hil­lel Inter­na­tional to alter its “Stan­dards for Part­ner­ship,” held its first con­fer­ence at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity, call­ing on Hil­lel Inter­na­tional to allow “free dis­course” on the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict. Orga­niz­ers claimed that the con­fer­ence would allow cer­tain view­points to be voiced that would be excluded from a Hil­lel build­ing because of Hil­lel International’s “Stan­dards for Part­ner­ship,” which do not allow for speak­ers that dele­git­imize Israel or deny its right to exist. The Open Hil­lel con­fer­ence fea­tured dis­cus­sions such as “Unpack­ing Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions,” and “Anti Nor­mal­iza­tion Work­shop: Open Dis­course in the Con­text of Power Dif­fer­en­tials.”
Both the SJP and Open Hil­lel con­fer­ences focused on top­ics such as BDS cam­paigns and the tac­tic of anti-normalization, which advises stu­dents against dia­logue and rejects any attempt to engage in a debate of the con­flict with pro-Israel students.

Speak­ers at the con­fer­ences rep­re­sented a net­work of groups that have worked to demo­nize and dele­git­imize the Jew­ish State. Those speak­ers included Rebecca Vilkomer­son, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Jew­ish Voice for Peace (JVP) who spoke at the Open Hil­lel con­fer­ence; Rashid Kha­lidi, Edward Said Pro­fes­sor of Mod­ern Arab Stud­ies at Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity and an Advi­sory Board mem­ber of the US Cam­paign to End the Israeli Occu­pa­tion who also spoke at the Open Hil­lel con­fer­ence; and Sara Ker­sh­nar, a cofounder of the Inter­na­tional Jew­ish Anti-Zionist Net­work who has made false alle­ga­tions includ­ing that Israel uses “Nazi tac­tics” against Pales­tini­ans, spoke at the SJP conference.

Other recent anti-Israel events in Mass­a­chu­setts orga­nized by stu­dents include:

  • A panel dis­cus­sion about the BDS move­ment took place dur­ing the Har­vard Arab Week­end, which is spon­sored by the Har­vard Arab Alumni Asso­ci­a­tion and sev­eral cor­po­rate spon­sors, includ­ing Bank Audi, Shell, and the Boston Con­sult­ing Group. The BDS dis­cus­sion, which took place to “high­light recent suc­cesses from the BDS move­ment, dis­cuss approach, and exam­ine its tra­jec­tory,” fea­tured Noam Chom­sky, an Amer­i­can scholar who has a his­tory of mak­ing anti-Israel state­ments; Andrew Kadi, a mem­ber of the US Campaign’s Steer­ing Com­mit­tee; and Yousef Munayyer, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Jerusalem Fund; as guest speakers.
  • On Novem­ber 1, at the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (MIT), Omar Bargh­outi, a co-founder of the Pales­tin­ian Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic and Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel (PACBI), a group that works to bring about a com­pre­hen­sive eco­nomic, cul­tural and aca­d­e­mic boy­cott of Israel,delivered a pre­sen­ta­tion about BDS cam­paigns to stu­dents. In past state­ments, Bargh­outi has used sen­si­tive Holo­caust imagery to con­demn Israel and its sup­port­ers and has alleged that an “Israel lobby” con­trols U.S. pol­icy and sup­presses debate.
  • In late Octo­ber, mem­bers of var­i­ous Boston SJP chap­ters protested a Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) fundraiser out­side of the Westin Boston Water­front Hotel where the event was tak­ing place.  Pro­test­ers led chants and held signs that read, “The IDF is GENOCIDAL,” “From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine racism is a crime,” and “Friends don’t let friends com­mit war crimes.”
  • At Smith Col­lege in Northamp­ton, the “Fes­ti­val of Resis­tance” fea­tured an anti-Israel rally out­side of Northamp­ton City Hall that led directly into a day-long teach-in about the BDS move­ment in late September.

In addi­tion to orga­niz­ing such events, anti-Israel stu­dents also oppose pro-Israel pro­gram­ing through con­fronta­tional tac­tics. This past Mon­day, stu­dents from the Tufts Uni­ver­sity Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter, con­ducted a die-in to protest a pre­sen­ta­tion from a pro-Israel speaker. In a more extreme exam­ple of protest­ing against pro-Israel pro­gram­ming on campus,anti-Israel sen­ti­ment crossed the line to anti-Semitism when swastikas were drawn on fly­ers adver­tis­ing a pro-Israel event at North­east­ern Uni­ver­sity.  North­east­ern University’s swift con­dem­na­tion of the inci­dent was clear, timely, unam­bigu­ous, and served as an impor­tant reminder of effec­tive uni­ver­sity responses to acts of hate and intol­er­ance on campus.

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August 28, 2014 3

Ferguson = Gaza: Manufacturing A False Comparison

gaza-ferguson-new-york

Pro­test­ers on the Man­hat­tan Bridge

See also: Fer­gu­son = Gaza: The Con­tin­ued Invo­ca­tion Of A False Comparison

As events in Gaza and high pro­file police bru­tal­ity cases have con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate recent head­lines, a num­ber of groups and indi­vid­u­als have tried to find a con­nec­tion between these unre­lated events in an attempt to bring atten­tion to their activism.

Sev­eral anti-Israel groups have couched their hos­til­ity towards Israel in social jus­tice terms by link­ing the con­flict in Gaza to the events in Fer­gu­son in an attempt to appeal to a broader base of sup­port. For example:

  • Brook­lyn Col­lege Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine adver­tised a Sep­tem­ber 2 event on Face­book: “From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine, racism, injus­tice and human rights vio­la­tions are being com­mit­ted against peo­ple of color.”
  • The Ohio Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Group spon­sored an August 25 demon­stra­tion at Ohio State University’s African Amer­i­can and African Stud­ies Com­mu­nity Exten­sion Cen­ter, “to show our love and sup­port for mem­bers of our Colum­bus com­mu­nity who have lost inno­cent loved ones in Gaza in recent Israeli attacks, to stand in sol­i­dar­ity with Michael Brown, John Craw­ford, and vic­tims of racism and police bru­tal­ity all over the US…”
  • At protests in Oak­land on August 23, anti-Israel pro­test­ers report­edly shouted, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” co-opting the chant used at Fer­gu­son protests
  • An adver­tise­ment for an August 22 Indi­ana Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity event on Face­book read: “The dis­re­gard and dis­re­spect for black bod­ies and black life is endemic to the white suprema­cist sys­tem that rules the land. Your strug­gles through the ages have been an inspi­ra­tion to us as we fight daily for the most basic human dig­ni­ties in our own home­land against the racist Zion­ist regime that con­sid­ers us less human.”
  • On August 20, the Pales­tin­ian BDS National Com­mit­tee issued a state­ment say­ing, “We rec­og­nize those tac­tics being used in Fer­gu­son and the men­tal­ity behind them…the meth­ods of unbri dled vio­lence and con­trol being used by secu­rity forces are all too famil­iar to Pales­tini­ans liv­ing under Israel’s decade-old occupation.”
  • On August 20, pro­test­ers on the Man­hat­tan Bridge chanted, “From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine, occu­pa­tion has got to go.” At least one pro­tester held a sign that read “We are FERGUSON We are GAZA, because We are Human.”
  • In an August 20 press release, Jew­ish Voice for Peace stated, “We rec­og­nize that the devalu­ing of African-American lives built into the fab­ric of US gov­ern­ment and soci­ety is mir­rored in Israel’s unequal treat­ment of Palestinians…It’s also not sur­pris­ing to see the sim­i­lar­ity in the tac­tics and tech­nolo­gies of repres­sion against those who are ris­ing up non­vi­o­lently in both places.”
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Protest in Staten Island

While some are sim­ply try­ing to rouse sup­port for an anti-Israel agenda by attract­ing like-minded activists, oth­ers have gone so far as to imply that Israel is to blame for the vio­lence in Ferguson.

This alle­ga­tion sur­faced in a tweet by Trita Parsi, head of the National Iran­ian Amer­i­can Coun­cil (NIAC). On August 14, Parsi tweeted, “Won­der­ing why the exces­sive police vio­lence? Here’s a guess: #Fer­gu­son police chief got train­ing in Israel…#Gaza.” An August 15 arti­cle from San Fran­cisco Bay View titled “Israel-trained police ‘occupy’ Mis­souri after killing of Black youth” echoed this sentiment.

Sim­i­lar com­par­isons have appeared at protests regard­ing other high pro­file police bru­tal­ity cases, such as at an August 23 rally call­ing for jus­tice in the death of Eric Gar­ner, who was unarmed when killed by an NYPD offi­cer ear­lier this sum­mer. Among the posters seen at the protest were “Google It!!! Israel trains the NYPD.”

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