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January 30, 2015

BDS Passed at UC Davis, Other BDS Campaigns Also Occurring

Last night at the University of California, Davis, a divestment resolution was passed by The Associated Students, University of California (ASUCD) with a vote of 8-2-2. The resolution, which calls on the UC Board of Regents to divest from companies that allegedly “aid in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and illegal settlements in Palestinian territories,” targets specific corporations such as Caterpillar, G4S, Veolia Environment and Raytheon.

Students from Davis Divest celebrate after their BDS resolution was passed with an 8-2-2 vote.

Students from Davis Divest celebrate after their BDS resolution was passed with an 8-2-2 vote.

Several other Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaigns are simultaneously occurring on other college campuses across the U.S. This is consistent with our predictions in our “Anti-Israel Activity on Campus After Operation Protective Edge” report about upcoming challenges on campuses where student-groups are looking to convince their universities to divest from corporations that they believe perpetuate or profit from the Israeli occupation.

In some cases, new student groups have been founded to launch these campaigns and in other cases, established anti-Israel student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), have taken the lead. In many cases, these student groups have attempted to form partnerships with other groups on their campuses to build broad coalitions and to latch onto other social justice causes. For example, these groups have sponsored events such as “From Ferguson to Palestine and the Wall,” which took place in mid-January at Stanford University and described as an opportunity to “discuss the specifics and connections between the movements for justice in Ferguson, the US-Mexico Border and Palestine.”

During the first semester of the current academic year, the UCLA SJP chapter was able to get “A Resolution to Divest from Corporations Engaged in Violence Against Palestinians” passed by their student government. The resolution, which was sponsored by 15 student organizations and endorsed by another 17, was voted on with an 8-2-2 margin. In addition, at the end of last semester, the UC Student-Workers Union, UAW Local 2865, voted in favor of a resolution urging the UC Board of Regents to join the BDS movement against Israel.

In addition to UC Davis, there are another six campuses in the U.S. that are currently engaged in BDS campaigns. Below is a rundown of their activities:  

  1. DePaul University – The DePaul Divest coalition submitted a request to the Fair Business Practices Committee (FBPC) to uphold a decision made last spring when DePaul students voted on a referendum in favor of divestment during Student Government elections. The companies that they were targeting for divestment included Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Veolia, and Caterpillar, but the proposal was reportedly rejected by the FBPC.
  1. Northwestern University – A newly-founded group called NU Divest has been hosting pro-BDS events to inform their student-body about BDS and they are planning to submit a divestment resolution for vote to their student government at some point this semester.
  1. Stanford University – A new student group called Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine has been hosting pro-BDS events on campus and plans to submit a divestment resolution to their student government this semester.
  1. SDSU – A group calling itself SDSU Divest recently launched a divestment campaign and has 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.” The group is also hosting its “First Open Forum for Divestment” next Tuesday, February 3.
  1. University of South Florida – The USF SJP chapter recently put a billboard up near their campus that claims that “10,000 students were silenced” and calls on USF to divest from corporations allegedly profiting from the Israeli occupation. They claim that students were silenced because the university did not pursue divestment after they circulated a pro-BDS petition that reportedly received over 10,000 signatures.
  1. Ohio State University – A newly-founded group called OSU Divest started a divestment campaign on their campus and disseminated a press release which calls for OSU to divest from companies that allegedly “engage in or otherwise profit from policies that oppress and marginalize Palestinians.”

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December 2, 2014

Marginal Anti-Israel Group Alters Holocaust Photo to Condemn Israel

A Facebook group called “I Acknowledge Apartheid Exists,” with over 91,000 fans, recently posted a photoshopped picture of Holocaust survivors holding signs that read “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza,” “Gaza, the world’s biggest concentration camp,” “Stop U.S. aid to Israel,” and “Break the silence on Gaza!!” Below the picture was text that stated, “Whatever happened to ‘Never again?’” [sic].i-acknowledge-apartheid-exists

The “I Acknowledge Apartheid Exists” group was founded on March 30, 2013 and its administrators frequently post images that delegitimize Israel and describe it as a “terrorist nation.” Recent posts include an image that described the State of Israel as “Nazi Israel” and another that stated “End genocide in Gaza.” Other posts ended with hashtags such as “#StopTheNazis” and “#StopIsrael.”

The group’s Communications Director, Derek Hummel, told TheRealNews.com in an April 2013 interview that the page was briefly shut down by Facebook because of complaints that were submitted by users who were offended by content that the group was posting. He added that Facebook reversed the decision shortly thereafter and that a fan of the page had written to tell them that, “an army of Jews were out to disband our Facebook page.” Hummel claimed, “the very next day, we were shut down.”

Over the years, Holocaust imagery has been used by many anti-Israel groups and individuals that look to make false comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany in an effort to cast Israel as a demonic state that is bent on exterminating the Palestinian people. Many examples of this appeared during Operation Protective Edge when participants at anti-Israel rallies and demonstrations held signs with slogans like “From Auschwitz to Palestine, My Ancestors are Crying…” and “Doesn’t the Holocaust teach us that it must never happen to anyone ever again?” In addition, participants at some of those rallies held signs showing the design of the Israeli flag with a swastika replacing the Star of David or the picture of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wearing a swastika armband.

houston-holocaust-museum

Comparing Israelis to Nazis during a protest in front of the Holocaust Museum in Houston, January 16, 2009. Source: Jewish Herald-Voice, Houston

Protesters at anti-Israel rallies that took place during Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 also used similar rhetoric, calling for an end to “the Nazi occupation of Gaza,” describing Gaza as today’s “Warsaw Ghetto” and accusing Israel of committing a genocide and massacre of the Palestinian people. That sort of rhetoric was also used during rallies and demonstrations that followed Operation Cast Lead.

One of those examples took place in Houston where the Houston Coalition for Justice and Peace staged anti-Israel protests and demonstrations around the city. At one of those rallies, which took place outside of the Holocaust Museum in Houston, participants wore mock concentration camp prisoner uniforms and looked to charge Israel with the crime of “genocide” against the Palestinians.

Student groups have also used Holocaust imagery to condemn Israel and its supporters on many occasions. An example of this took place less than a month ago when the University of Central Florida’s Students for Justice in Palestine (UCF SJP) chapter posted a graphic on their Facebook page that showed a face with a swastika talking to what appears to be a face with an Israeli flag. The face with the swastika said, “You aren’t a real human race! DIE!” and below it was a similar picture that showed a face with an Israeli flag talking to a face with a Palestinian flag, stating, “You aren’t a real human race! DIE!” Above the image, UCF SJP wrote, “History, unfortunately, has repeated itself.”

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October 20, 2014

The Lancet Editor Reconsiders Israel

In a significant about face, Dr. Richard Horton, the editor of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, published an article on October 11 reflecting on his recent visit to Israel and announcing several policy initiatives the journal will now undertake which will more accurately reflect the Israeli medical system and deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Horton’s visit to Israel and his written reflections came in the aftermath of a firestorm that met The Lancet’s posting on July 23 of a highly one-sided, propagandistic  “Open Letter for the People of Gaza,”  condemning Israeli “aggression” in Gaza and charging Israel and Israeli physicians with full culpability for the situation in Gaza.    The letter, signed by 24 individuals who identified themselves as “doctors and scientists, who spend our lives developing means to care and protect health and lives” (many of whom have been strongly critical of Israel for a long time), appeared on The Lancet website without any counter-perspective and, initially, the publication encouraged readers to add their names. As of July 30, the website had garnered 20,000 signatures before the signing function was shut down. The Lancet later posted a handful of letters in response to the Gaza open letter on its website, including many by Israeli physicians and medical professionals.

Controversy over the letter raged at the height of the Israel-Hamas conflict, with many, including ADL, calling into questions Dr. Horton’s decision to feature such a “partisan” and “highly politicized screed.”

In September, Horton, invited by Professor Karl Skorecki of the Rambam Hospital in Haifa, decided to visit Israel for the first time. (See a video of his speech at Rambam below.)   The reality of Israel apparently took Dr. Horton by surprise.  He writes:

At Rambam I saw an inspiring model of partnership between Jews and Arabs in a part of Israel where 40% of the population is Arab. I saw Rambam offering an open hand, gladly grasped by families from Gaza, the West Bank, and Syria, who were living with life-threatening health-care needs. I saw Rambam as one example of a vision for a peaceful and productive future between peoples, which I learned exists throughout Israel’s hospitals.

Significantly, Dr. Horton admitted :  “I have seen for myself that what was written in the Manduca et al letter does not describe the full reality.”

He also laid out new guidelines for the editors to more thoroughly review the “interests” of authors, as well as consider how to approach potentially divisive and polarizing content, and announced plans for a Lancet series on Israel’s health and medical system.

In a letter to Dr. Horton, ADL commended his article and statements and requested that a link to it appear prominently alongside the “Open Letter” which can still be found on The Lancet website.   ADL also noted that:

In your October 11 article you state that “…The Lancet opposes all forms of boycott.”   You may be aware that numerous anti-Israel resolutions presented in universities, professional associations and the like – including those calling for boycotts of and divestment from Israel – cite material from The Lancet in bolstering their advocacy.  We urge you to speak out against all efforts to link The Lancet to advocacy in favor of boycotting Israel, its academics and professionals.

Dr. Horton says he will return to Israel in January 2015.  Medical professional around the world will watch with interest what might result from this new awareness and openness to Israel.

 

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