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September 25, 2015 20

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 1

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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