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November 24, 2015

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.

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March 28, 2014

Update: BDS Resolutions Fail At Michigan And Loyola

Last week, we blogged about impending divestment resolutions on four U.S. college campuses. Two of those resolutions were voted on, and ultimately voted down, this week.

Here’s what happened:Michigan Divest

  • At the University of Michigan, a divestment resolution introduced by SAFE (Students Allied for Freedom and Equality) was defeated by a 25-9 vote and five abstentions by the Central Student Government (CSG). ADL praised the CSG for defeating the resolution and also spoke out against reports that CSG representatives were allegedly threatened and called anti-Semitic slurs such as “kike”’ and “dirty Jew.”
  • At Loyola University, the Student Senate held a second vote on SJP’s divestment resolution on Wednesday, March 25. The resolution initially passed with a 12-10 vote with and nine abstentions. The next day though, the President of Loyola’s United Student Government Association, Pedro Guerrero, vetoed the resolution, explaining his decision to do so on the grounds that the resolution “caused harm among the student community” and that “diversity of thought on campus was not taken into consideration.”

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March 21, 2014

Divestment Resolutions Abound on U.S. Campuses This Week

In the wake of Israeli Apartheid Week, which recently wrapped up after taking place on several dozen college campuses during the month of March, divestment resolutions were introduced on four U.S. college campuses this loyoladivestweek.

Here’s a rundown on the resolutions – two of which passed, two of which were held up – that were introduced this week:

Loyola University – Although the Loyola Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter had disseminated a petition urging the university to withdraw investments in five corporations, the campus was blindsided by the surprise introduction of a divestment resolution in  the Student Senate on Tuesday. The resolution, which passed by a vote of 26-0-2, had not previously been announced and students who sought to oppose it were not given the opportunity to express their perspective.

Arizona State University – Also on Tuesday, a resolution calling on Arizona State University (ASU) to divest from Caterpillar, which provides heavy machinery to the Israeli army, was tabled by the Undergraduate Student Government. The bill was introduced by the group “ASU Divest from Caterpillar Inc.” and it will reportedly be amended and reintroduced by ASU’s SJP chapter in the near future.

University of Michigan – The Central Student Government (CSG) was scheduled to vote on a divestment resolution initiated by the anti-Israel student group “Students Allied for Freedom and Equality” (SAFE). The meeting attracted an overwhelmingly large number of students and as the room became overcrowded, the meeting was moved to another location on campus where an announcement was made that the voting session would be postponed indefinitely. According to the Michigan Daily, the crowd then “pressed up against the stanchions dividing the room and chanted ‘Divest’ at the CSG members for several minutes.” In addition, more than 100 students gathered outside of the Michigan Union to rally in favor of divestment.

The following day, members of SAFE declared that they were conducting a “sit-in” near the student government offices until the CSG would hold a vote on their divestment resolution. The students  took over the space and refused to leave until they were told that they would be arrested. Reports on Twitter indicate that members of the group are currently reconvening for the third day of their “sit-in.”

San Diego State University – San Diego State University’s (SDSU) Student Diversity Commission passed a divestment resolution by a vote of 11-6-2 on March 19. The resolution now will reportedly be brought before the university council.

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