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September 25, 2015

University Departments Sponsor Key BDS Advocates

University departments on five different college campuses have sponsored or co-sponsored anti-Israel programs promoting Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns so far during the 2015-16 academic year. The founding goals of the BDS movement and many of the strategies employed in BDS campaigns are anti-Semitic.  Such sponsorship creates the perception that specific university departments sanction these goals and strategies, lending an added degree of legitimacy and credibility to anti-Israel advocacy and campaigns that may alienate Jewish and pro-Israel students.omar-barghouti-berkeley-flyer

Since the 2012-13 academic year, there have been at least 99 anti-Israel events that received university department sponsorship, including 44 events which took place in the 2014-15 academic year.

On September 18, 2015, Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), spoke at the University of California-Berkeley. His presentation, which discussed the role which he believes academia should play in BDS, was sponsored by the campus Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter and co-sponsored by eight different University departments, including the Center for Race and Gender, Asian American Studies, Native American Studies, Ethnic Studies, English, Chicano Studies, Near Eastern Studies, and African American Studies.

Barghouti, a founder of the movement who recently stated that he believes BDS is turning mainstream, has used Holocaust imagery to condemn Israel and its supporters in past presentations and interviews. He also has advocated for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, along with the right of return for Palestinian refugees, claiming that one state would mean “equality for everyone–irrespective of identity, ethnicity, religion or any other attribute.”

Barghouti’s event is not unique for this year though, as the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Michigan Technological University sponsored a similar presentation from Israeli anti-Zionist author Miko Peled on September 15, 2015. Over the years, Peled has made several statements about Jews, Israel, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would not define “inclusion” or “diversity.” These statements include his allegation that Israel turned Gaza into an “enormous concentration camp” or more recently, when he stated that “neither Iran, Hezbollah or Hamas pose a threat to Israel, they pose a threat to the Israeli occupation and oppression of Palestinians.”

Other events which received department sponsorship this year include an upcoming performance by Remi Kanazi, an Organizing Committee member of the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), at John Jay College. At John Jay, Kanazi’s performance is being co-sponsored by the Department of Gender Studies.

In addition, a September 16 presentation at Drew University by Bassem Tamimi, a Palestinian anti-Israel activist who has been arrested in Israel several times, was co-sponsored by the Middle East Studies Department; and a presentation from Vijay Prashad, the former Edward Said chair in American Studies at the American University of Beirut, was co-sponsored by the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs Program.

While not all advocates of BDS are anti-Semitic and may be driven by perceived legitimate criticism of certain Israeli policies toward Palestinians, many individuals engaged in BDS campaigns are driven by opposition to Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state. Because of this, it’s unfortunate that university departments would lend their sponsorship to events that can create an environment that is hostile to Jewish and pro-Israel students.

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November 16, 2012

Anti-Semitism and Legitimization of Terror Abound in Reaction to Israeli Operations in Gaza

Anti-Israel activists are using various social media platforms to express their opposition to Israel’s ongoing military operations in Gaza and comment on the unfolding situation. These remarks frequently contain extreme language. Several statements tend to legitimize Hamas and rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilian communities. Others compare Israel to Nazi Germany.

The banner at right, for example, which has been widely circulated on Facebook, calls the operation, “the Holocaust in Gaza.”

Mary Hughes-Thompson, co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement, commented on her Facebook page: “Operation Israeli Gestapo is underway in Gaza.” Another anti-Israel activist who posted on Facebook almost immediately after the strike that killed Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari yesterday wrote: “Jewish Zionist ‘morality and bravery’ on display in Gaza is no different than that which was displayed by the Nazis in the Concentration Camps.”

George Galloway, a former member of the British Parliament and leader of Viva Palestina, used extremely caustic and virulent language on a program he hosts on Press TV, an English-language Iranian satellite station. Galloway called on viewers advocating for nonviolent resistance and/or diplomacy to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to “get off their knees” and acknowledge that diplomacy won’t be useful against Israel’s “blitzkrieg of death and gas.”  He also claimed that Palestinians in Gaza are being “gassed” and “roasted” by Israel.

Attempts to legitimize or minimize Hamas’s rocket attacks against Israeli civilians have also appeared. A student at George Washington University who is involved with Students for Justice in Palestine on campus wrote, “The Resistance has reached Tel Aviv! Long Live the Resistance.” The comments appear to celebrate that an Iranian rocket launched by Islamic Jihad in Gaza had landed in Tel Aviv. After a comment appeared questioning his support for violence, the student responded, “Violent resistance is our right” and compared the situation to a raped woman striking her assailant in self-defense.

Ben White, a prominent anti-Israel activist and author of “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide,” wrote on his Facebook page: “Israel’s hasbara says context for assault is rocket fire. Well, context for rocket fire is 64 years of expulsion and occupation.” (As a side note, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank began in 1967. White’s reference to “64 years” of occupation suggests that he considers all of Israel to be occupied Palestinian land.)

Noura Erakat, a fellow at Georgetown University and former organizer with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, expressed frustration with what she deemed to be a response from Israel that was wholly unprovoked. She wrote on Twitter: “#Hamas has observed ceasefire, Shalit returned, now what?” [Contrary to this claim, Hamas did not observe the ceasefire and was responsible for launching more than 100 rockets into Gaza in the days preceding Israel’s response.]

Other extreme comments include statements by:

  • Julio Pino, a professor at Kent State University who infamously shouted “Death to Israel” during a pro-Israel presentation on campus last year. Pino called the action a “genocide” on his Facebook page.
  • Alison Weir, the director of the Council for the National Interest and If Americans Knew, who referred to Israel’s actions as a “slaughter.”
  • Remi Kanazi, an anti-Israel activist and rapper based in New York who wrote, “Dear Zionists: You have never ‘defended yourselves.’ You came in, stole land that wasn’t yours & maintained a racist state through massacres and brute force.”
  • Sherry Wolf, a Jewish anti-Zionist and member of the International Socialist Organization, who wrote: “The homicidal racists who run Israel have launched an all-out bombing campaign on Gaza…#FuckIsrael.”

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