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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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December 11, 2013

University Of Michigan Latest School To Be Hit With Anti-Israel Mock Eviction Notices

Mock eviction notices were recently distributed at the University of Michigan by the pro-Palestinian student group “Students Allied for Freedom and Equality.” More than one thousand students reportedly received the notices on their residence hall room doors on Tuesday, December 10, which warned them that their dormitory would be demolished by December 13.michigan-mock-eviction-notice

The notices were made to appear as though they were issued by the university’s Department of Housing and were designed to mimic the eviction notices received by some Palestinians in the West Bank if their homes were built illegally or needed to be demolished because of Israeli security concerns. The notices, however, claim that Israel evicts Palestinians from their homes for the purpose of “mak[ing] life so miserable for Arabs that they leave.”

Students affiliated with SAFE also published a “Viewpoint” piece on the university newspaper’s Web site calling for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel and claiming that the eviction notices are a “tool of political satire.”

These notices, which have appeared on at least a half a dozen other campuses in the past few years, have previously made some students feel threatened or intimidated.

For example, after students at Rutgers University received the notices in October 2013, Esther Reed, the rabbi of Rutgers’s Hillel was quoted in the campus newspaper saying, “students were made to feel that they were not safe in their residence halls.” Similarly, at Florida Atlantic University, students reported feeling confused or scared after receiving eviction notices in March 2012, according to Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams, who spoke to a local newspaper shortly after the incident occurred.

Other students have criticized the tactic for failing to create dialogue. At Yale University, students wrote an op-ed in the campus newspaper and called the mock eviction notices “offensive,” claiming that there was not “even the faintest attempt at building a constructive dialogue.”  

In the past few years, anti-Israel student groups at the following universities have circulated mock eviction notices on campus:

  • Rutgers University, October 2013 – Students from the Rutgers-New Brunswick SJP chapter posted mock eviction notices in residence halls throughout the campus to “educate” students about the experience for some Palestinians whose homes are demolished. Text on the mock eviction notices read, “your suite is scheduled for demolition in the next three days… If you do not vacate the premise within this time frame, we reserve the right to destroy all remain­ing belongings…This may seem like unre­al­is­ti­cally harsh treat­ment, but this is the actual state of affairs in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”
  • San Diego State University, March 2013 – Mock eviction notices were posted on students’ residence hall room doors by members of the SDSU SJP chapter. The notices, which claimed that “$30 billion US tax dollars have been used to fund Israeli apartheid in the past decade,” were meant to raise awareness over Israel’s alleged human rights violations against Palestinians.
  • Harvard University, March 2013 – Members of the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee posted mock eviction notices on students’ doors in freshman and upper class residence halls. The notices, which warned students that their residence hall rooms were “scheduled for demolition in the next three days” were posted in order to publicize “Israel Apartheid Week” on campus and to raise awareness about Israel’s policies.
  • Florida Atlantic University, March 2012 – Mock eviction notices were posted on nearly 200 student residence hall rooms. The action, organized by the FAU SJP chapter, warned students that their rooms were being demolished and that “anyone left inside is not our responsibility.” This episode attracted significant ire because the flier contained the official seal of university’s Hous­ing and Res­i­den­tial Life Department.  
  • University of Chicago, May 2011 – Over 200 mock eviction notices were distributed by the SJP chapter on campus. The notices stated that affected students would have their rooms demolished and that if they did not vacate them, “we reserve the right to destroy your housing unit. We do not maintain responsibility for anyone remaining inside.” 
  • Yale University, April 2011 – Mock eviction notices were distributed by SJP at Yale University to criticize “the actions of the Israeli state” and to promote the group’s upcoming events.

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November 20, 2012

“End the Nazi Occupation in Gaza”: A Round-Up Of U.S. Anti-Israel Protests On November 19

Close to two dozen anti-Israel rallies took place across the United States on Monday, from Greensboro to Gainesville, Seattle to Santa Cruz. Nearly half of Monday’s demonstrations occurred on university and college campuses, an indication of how student-driven the anti-Israel reaction is to the latest round of violence taking place in the Middle East.

Below is a sampling of yesterday’s anti-Israel protests:

New Brunswick, NJ

At Rutgers University, a state university with more than 50,000 students, a rally organized by Students for Justice in Palestine drew approximately 150 demonstrators to Brower Commons. One of the signs displayed by students read, “It would be my greatest sadness to see Zionists do to Palestinians much of what Nazis did to Jews.” Demonstrators also chanted “Intifada, Intifada” during the evening protest.

At least four representatives of Neturei Karta, an ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist organization, participated in and spoke at the rally. Jewish anti-Zionist groups often view their role as “protecting” the anti-Israel movement from allegations of anti-Semitism. It seemed to work here. Shortly after the protest ended, several students expressed how happy they were to have the Neturei Karta representatives, with one student noting, “I’m tired of being criticized as an anti-Semite for having critical views of Israel, when in fact I have no qualms with our Jewish brothers and sisters, but rather an apartheid nation.”

San Francisco, CA

A rally outside the Israeli Consulate drew activists from Jewish Voice for Peace who held banners and signs that read “The Siege of Gaza Betrays Jewish Values” and “Israelis Against War and Apartheid.”

Chicago, IL

More than 300 demonstrators rallied outside a Federal Building in Chicago and then proceeded to march to Daley Plaza, chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Speakers alleged that Israel is a “terrorist state,” a “brutal killing machine” and that Jerusalem is “occupied.” One young woman held a sign that read, “End the Nazi Occupation in Gaza!” The same sign also showed the Israeli flag with a large red swastika drawn over it and the words “real terrorists.” The rally attracted the support of American Muslims for Palestine, Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, Palestine Solidarity Group, US Palestinian Community Network and Jewish Voice for Peace.

Ithaca, NY

Anti-Israel students at Cornell University squared off against pro-Israel students who were holding a rally to support Israel’s actions and then marched across campus chanting, “Hey Netanyahu, what do you say, how many kids did you kill today?” “Brick by brick, wall by wall, Israel’s apartheid’s got to fall” and “When people are occupied, resistance is justified.” The rally, called “Solidarity from Ithaca to Gaza,” was heavily attended by Jewish anti-Zionists, including representatives of Jewish Voice for Peace-Ithaca who held signs that read, “Jewish Voice for Peace Says Divest From the Occupation” and “I am another Jew opposed to Israeli attacks on civilians.”

Tallahassee, FL

The Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at Florida State University organized a protest that drew several dozen students. The students held signs that read, “Resist Zionism and Imperialism,” “Support Peace, Defend Gaza” and “Denouncing Israel’s War Crimes is not Anti-Semitic.” One of the leaders of SJP was interviewed by local media and said, “We’re out here because Palestinians are being brutalized, are being bombed, are being killed every single day with American tax dollars and we think that’s inherently wrong.” He also apologized for Palestinian terrorism, saying it is the result of how “miserable and hopeless” the Palestinians feel and predicted that the “extremism” will only end when the situation for Palestinians improves.

For information about other anti-Israel protests that have taken place since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, please see these previous posts:

“Israel should be Ended Once and For All,” “Crucify Him, Crucify Them…Israel’s Policy:” A Round-Up of Anti-Israel Protests in the U.S., November 17–18

Demonstrators at Anti-Israel Rallies: “Gaza is the Real Holocaust,” “Long live the Intifada!”

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